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Encyclopedia > Winter Soldier Investigation

The "Winter Soldier Investigation" was a media event intended to publicize war crimes and atrocities by the United States Armed Forces and their allies in the Vietnam War, while showing their direct relationship to military leadership and the foreign and "anti-Communist" policies of the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon Presidential administrations. The three-day gathering of 109 veterans and 16 civilians in Detroit, Michigan, from January 31-February 2, 1971, was organized by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Honorably discharged soldiers, as well as retired civilian contractors and medical personnel, all gave testimony about war crimes they had committed or witnessed during the years of 1963-1970. In the context of war, a war crime is a punishable offense under International Law, for violations of the laws of war by any person or persons, military or civilian. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... The armed forces of the United States of America consist of the United States Army United States Navy United States Air Force United States Marine Corps United States Coast Guard Note: The United States Coast Guard has both military and law enforcement functions. ... Combatants Republic of Vietnam United States Republic of Korea Thailand Australia New Zealand The Philippines National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam Democratic Republic of Vietnam People’s Republic of China Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea Strength US 1,000,000 South Korea 300,000 Australia 48,000... A foreign policy is a set of political goals that seeks to outline how a particular country will interact with the other countries of the world. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article may require cleanup. ... For other persons named John Kennedy, see John Kennedy (disambiguation). ... Lyndon Baines Johnson (August 27, 1908–January 22, 1973), often referred to as LBJ, was an American politician. ... Nixon redirects here. ... Former crewmembers of the battleship Missouri pose for photos shortly after the Anniversary of the End of World War II ceremony, held aboard the famous ship. ... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ... January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ... Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) is a tax-exempt Non-profit organization and corporation, originally created to oppose the Vietnam War. ...


While the event was largely unmentioned by most mainstream media channels, a reasonably large number of journalists and film crews recorded the event, and a transcript[1] was later entered into the Congressional Record. Organizers described the event as "anti-war," not in the sense of opposing all wars (compare pacifism) or as a statement against the internal conflict between the 'North' and 'South' political entities, but as strictly in the sense of opposing America's involvement and escalation of the internal conflicts in Southeast Asia. Mass media is the term used to denote, as a class, that section of the media specifically conceived and designed to reach a very large audience (typically at least as large as the whole population of a nation state). ... The Congressional Record is the official record of the proceedings and debates of the United States Congress. ... Pacifism is the opposition to war or violence as a means of settling disputes. ... The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN), or less commonly, Vietnamese Democratic Republic (Vietnamese: Việt Nam Dân Chủ Cá»™ng Hòa), also known as North Vietnam, was proclaimed by Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi, September 2nd1945 and was recognized by the Peoples Republic of China and the... Official language Vietnamese Capital Saigon Last President Duong Van Minh Last Prime Minister Vu Van Mau Area  - Total  - % water 173,809 km² N/A Population  - Total  - Density 19,370,000 (1973 est. ... Wikiquote has a collection of quotations by or about: United States Wikinews has news related to this article: United States United States government CIA World Factbook Entry for United States House. ...


A documentary film of the event, called simply Winter Soldier, was first released in 1972. Due to the controversial nature of the subject matter about an ongoing war, it got little distribution and support at that time and had been archived by its creators, collectively called the Winterfilm Collective. In September, 2005, it was re-released across the U.S. in small art house theatres. Most media reviews have regarded the film highly, as a "powerful" and "emotional" record of the era. [2] The Winterfilm Collective consisted of: Fred Aranow, Nancy Baker, Joe Bangert, Rhetta Barron, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, David Grubin, Jeff Holstein, Barbara Jarvis, Al Kaupas, Barbara Kopple, Mark Lenix, Michael Lesser, Nancy Miller, Lee Osborne, Lucy Massie Phenix, Roger Phenix, Benay Rubenstein, and Michael Weil. ... This article or section is in need of attention from an expert on the subject. ...

Contents

Background

Prompted by numerous investigations into war crimes, such as the Russell Tribunal, National Veterans Inquiry and Citizens Commissions of Inquiry, the Vietnam Veterans Against the War wanted to have a large scale public hearing. With the courts martial for the My Lai Massacre making front page news, and the recent disclosure by members of the CIA's Phoenix Program of its record of alleged human rights violations, the VVAW was determined to expose a broad pattern of war crimes that they claimed to exist in Vietnam. The Winter Soldier Investigation (WSI) was intended to prove that incidents like My Lai were not isolated and rare occurrences, but were instead the frequent and predictable result of official American war policy. The Russell Tribunal was a public international body organized by British philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell, along with Ken Coates and several others. ... The National Veterans Inquiry, was a national-level inquiry into American war crimes in Vietnam. ... Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) is a tax-exempt Non-profit organization and corporation, originally created to oppose the Vietnam War. ... Photographs of the My Lai massacre provoked world outrage and made it an international scandal. ... The CIA Seal The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is an American intelligence agency, responsible for obtaining and analyzing information about foreign governments, corporations, and individuals, and reporting such information to the various branches of the U.S. Government. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Photographs of the My Lai massacre provoked world outrage and became a national scandal. ...


Organizers

The groundwork for what would become the Winter Soldier Investigation was laid by Jeremy Rifkin, Tod Ensign, Michael Uhl and Bob Johnson of the Citizens Commission of Inquiry (CCI). In search of first hand information on war crimes, they contacted the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and gained the support of VVAW co-founder Jan Crumb. During the summer of 1970, the CCI were approached by Al Hubbard who had become a full-time organizer with VVAW. Hubbard suggested that CCI combine their efforts with Jane Fonda, Rev. Dick Fernandez of Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam (CALCAV), Mark Lane and Donald Duncan (who had previously testified at the Russell Tribunal in Denmark). An initial steering committee formed of Duncan, Ensign, Fonda, Lane, Hubbard, Rifkin, and Fernandez continued to organize the WSI through September, 1970. Jeremy Rifkin (b. ... Bob Johnson can refer to different people: Bob Johnson (1905-1982), Indian Bob, the Major League Baseball player. ... Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) is a tax-exempt Non-profit organization and corporation, originally created to oppose the Vietnam War. ... For the LSD apostle, see Alfred Matthew Hubbard. ... Jane Fonda (born December 21, 1937) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. ... Mark Lane can be: Mark Lane (author) the JFK assassination researcher who wrote Rush to Judgment Mark Lane tube station in the London Underground This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... Donald F. Duncan, Sr. ... The Russell Tribunal was a public international body organized by British philosopher and pacifist Bertrand Russell, along with Ken Coates and several others. ... Ensign of the Imperial Japanese Navy. ... 1970 (MCMLXX) was a common year starting on Thursday (the link is to a full 1970 calendar). ...


Among the growing collective of organizers, differences of opinion and direction arose concerning the planned public event. VVAW leaders felt it should be an all-veteran event, to maintain its credibility. Less than three months into planning for the Winter Soldier Investigation, most of the Vietnam veteran organizers and Jeremy Rifkin had become adamant that WSI disassociate itself from Mark Lane. Lane had recently published a book, Conversations with Americans, in which Lane relied on unverified interviews with veterans, some of which were later exposed as unreliable by Neil Sheehan in a New York Times book review [3]. Lane was removed from the project, and a new six-member steering committee for WSI was composed of three national office leaders (Al Hubbard, Craig Scott Moore, and Mike Oliver) and three members of the growing list of chapters (Art Flesch, Tim Butz, and William F. Crandell). Cornelius Mahoney Neil Sheehan (born October 27, 1936) is an American journalist. ... The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ...


The organizers of the national hearings separated into two groups, each developing their own events. The CCI advanced its plans for a December event in Washington, DC, while the WSI's new organizers continued with the original plan to hold its hearings in Detroit. The Washington, DC, event would be called The National Veterans Inquiry. The Detroit event would be called the Winter Soldier Investigation. Seven of the 142 total participants would provide testimony at both events. Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor... The National Veterans Inquiry, was a national-level inquiry into American war crimes in Vietnam. ... Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor...


The support of antiwar celebrities was considered crucial to generate both money and publicity. A series of benefit productions, "Acting in Concert for Peace," were created and featured performances by Jane Fonda, Dick Gregory, Donald Sutherland, and Barbara Dane. Two concerts by Crosby and Nash, as well as folk singer Phil Ochs, also raised funds. Jane Fonda (born December 21, 1937) is a two-time Academy Award-winning American actress, writer, political activist, former fashion model, and fitness guru. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... For other persons named Donald Sutherland, see Donald Sutherland (disambiguation). ... Barbara Dane is an American folk, blues, and Jazz singer. ... Image:Http://www. ... Graham Nash on cover of his recording, Wild Tales, 1973 Graham William Nash (born February 2, 1942) is an English-born singer-songwriter known for his light tenor vocals and songwriting contributions in pop group The Hollies and folk-rock band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and as a photography collector... Philip David Ochs (December 19, 1940 – April 9, 1976) was a U.S. protest singer (or, as he preferred, a topical singer), songwriter, musician and recording artist who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, earnest humanism, political activism, insightful and alliterative lyrics, and haunting voice. ...


The WSI also relied on considerable support from the Detroit community. Dean Robb and Ernie Goodman solicited donations from their fellow local attorneys, and several clergymen arranged housing for the witnesses. In the words of the Director of Missions for the Detroit Metropolitan Council of Churches, Dr. John B Forsyth, "It is important that the public realize that American atrocities in Vietnam are an every day occurrence." The Secretary-Treasurer for the United Auto Workers, Emil Mazey and Michigan Secretary of State Richard Austin also helped raise funds for the event. [4] Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor... The United Auto Workers (UAW), officially the United Automobile, Aerospace & Agricultural Implement Workers of America International Union, is one of the largest labor unions in North America, with more than 700,000 members in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico organized into approximately 950 union locals. ... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ...


Purpose

The purpose of the Winter Soldier Investigation was to show that American policies in Vietnam lead to war crimes. In the words of one participant veteran, Donald Dzagulones, "We gathered not to sensationalize our service but to decry the travesty that was Lt. William Calley's trial for the My Lai Massacre. The U.S. had established the principle of culpability with the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis. Following those principles, we held that if Calley were responsible, so were his superiors up the chain of command — even to the president. The causes of My Lai and the brutality of the Vietnam War were rooted in the policies of our government as executed by our military commanders." This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Photographs of the My Lai massacre provoked world outrage and made it an international scandal. ... The Süddeutsche Zeitung announces The Verdict in Nuremberg. ... Photographs of the My Lai massacre provoked world outrage and became a national scandal. ...


The name "Winter Soldier Investigation" was derived from Thomas Paine's first Crisis paper written in December 1776, in which he wrote: Thomas Paine Thomas Paine (January 29, 1737, Thetford, Norfolk, England – June 8, 1809, New York City) was a pamphleteer, revolutionary, radical intellectual, and deist. ... Year 1776 was a leap year starting on Monday (see link for calendar). ...

"These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Paine's words were written to inspire American patriots that remained after several defeats - the "sunshine patriots" and "summer soldiers" having deserted because the going was rough. In contrast with the "sunshine patriots," those patriots who chose to continue to fight even in rough times were thus by implication "winter soldiers."


Future Senator John Kerry, then a decorated Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve (Inactive), while later speaking before a Senate Committee, further explained "We who have come here to Washington have come here because we feel we have to be winter soldiers now. We could come back to this country; we could be quiet; we could hold our silence; we could not tell what went on in Vietnam, but we feel because of what threatens this country, the fact that the crimes threaten it, not reds, and not redcoats but the crimes which we are committing that threaten it, that we have to speak out."[5] John Forbes Kerry (born December 11, 1943) is the junior United States Senator from Massachusetts. ...


Planning

The collecting of testimony from veterans had begun under the auspice of the Citizens Commission of Inquiry the previous year, and it took almost two months of on-site planning in Detroit to organize the conference. Detroit was proposed by Fonda because of its central location in the American heartland, and the "blue-collar" social status of most of the residents. The steering committee set up a collective in a house on the industrial east side of Detroit with the help of Catholic antiwar activists; and five clergymen of different denominations, including the director of missions for the Detroit Metropolitan Council of Churches, offered housing for the witnesses. Motto: Speramus Meliora; Resurget Cineribus (We Hope For Better Things; It Shall Rise From the Ashes - this motto was adopted after the disastrous 1805 fire that devastated the city) Nickname: The Motor City and Motown Location in Wayne County, Michigan Founded Incorporated July 24, 1701 1815  County Wayne County Mayor...


The program consisted primarily of testimony, with 109 Vietnam veterans to appear on panels arranged by unit so they could corroborate each other's reports. Grouping these veterans by unit would also help to establish that events and practices to which they testified were unit-wide policy, and not just random and rare occurrences. Several civilian experts who had been to Vietnam were also to speak during this event. Arrangements had been made to include the testimony of several expatriated Vietnamese students residing in Canada, but they were denied visas to the United States by the Canadian government.


Organizers also investigated the legal implications of veterans publicly admitting to criminal acts which they had witnessed or participated in. With legal advice from the Center for Constitutional Rights the organizers were assured that the armed forces could not charge or try veterans for alleged crimes committed while they were on active duty. The veterans giving testimony were also instructed not to reveal the specific names of others involved in war crimes. The goal of these hearings was not to indict individual soldiers, but instead to expose the frequency of criminal behavior and its relationship to U.S. war policy. NOTE: The following text may have been literally copied from http://www. ...


Verification of participants' credibility

The organizers of the Winter Soldier Investigation took several steps to guarantee the validity of the participants.


Each veteran's authenticity was checked before the hearings by the investigation event organizers, and subsequently by reporters and Pentagon officials. In addition, they also gave specific details about their units and the locations where the alleged events had occurred. Those who wanted to testify were carefully screened by the officers of VVAW, and care was taken to verify the service records and testimony of the veterans. After the severe criticism of the accuracy of Mark Lane's book a month before the event, the organizers of the Winter Soldier Investigation made the credibility of the participants a top priority. All veterans participating in Winter Soldier were required to bring their discharge papers (DD-214's) and IDs.


As noted in VVAW records, each veteran's authenticity and testimony were checked after the hearings by Nixon's "plumbers." Charles Colson was assigned the task. In a confidential "Plan to Counteract Viet Nam Veterans Against the War", Colson wrote, "The men that participated in the pseudo-atrocity hearings in Detroit will be checked to ascertain if they are genuine combat veterans." At one point, the Nixon team suggested in a memo about VVAW, "Several of their regional coordinators are former Kennedy supporters." VVAW was also targeted by the FBI for observation as a possible dissident organization. Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) is a tax-exempt non-profit corporation, originally created to oppose the Vietnam War. ... The White House Plumbers or simply The Plumbers is the popular name given to the covert Nixon White House Special Investigations Unit established July 24, 1971. ... Charles Wendell Chuck Colson (born October 16, 1931) was the chief counsel for President Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973 and was one of the Watergate Seven, jailed for Watergate-related charges. ... The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a Federal police force which is the principal investigative arm of the United States Department of Justice (DOJ). ...


Although military documentation was provided, some media organizations such as the Detroit News made further inquiries into the hearings by questioning the authenticity of the testifying veterans. Discharge papers were closely examined; military records were checked against the Pentagon records; after all their digging, not one fraudulent veteran was found. The Detroit Free Press reported daily of participants that had been confirmed by the Pentagon as veterans. Along with The Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News (owned by Gannett) is one of the two major Metro Detroit newspapers. ... The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located at 48 N. Rotary Road, Arlington, Virginia 22211 (Map). ... The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located at 48 N. Rotary Road, Arlington, Virginia 22211 (Map). ...


NBC News later reported that VVAW executive and Winter Soldier co-organizer Al Hubbard had lied about being an officer during a Meet the Press television interview several months after the WSI hearing. Journalist William Overend states he had met Hubbard and he had also been introduced as being a former Air Force captain. Overend learned Hubbard was only an E-5 Staff Sergeant when Hubbard had apologized on the Today Show a few days later for exaggerating his rank. NBC's Frank Jordan recalls, "He was convinced no one would listen to a black man who was also an enlisted man." Hubbard did not testify at Winter Soldier, but detractors of the WSI frequently raise Hubbards fabrication to generate doubt. For the LSD apostle, see Alfred Matthew Hubbard. ... Aircraft of the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing and coalition counterparts stationed together at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, in southwest Asia, fly over the desert. ...


Fritz Efaw, a Chapter Representative of VVAW, stated: "The claims that the WSI hearings contained falsified testimony from men who were not veterans is an old one, and it's definitely false. The testimony was startling even at the time it took place: startling to the general public, startling to the military and the Nixon administration, and startling to those who participated because each of them knew a piece of the story, but the hearings brought a great many of them together for the first time and provided a venue in which they could be heard for the first time. It's hardly surprising that those on the other side would set out almost immediately to discredit them."


Seven years after the hearings, writer Guenter Lewy claimed in his book, America in Vietnam, that allegations against Marines were investigated by the Naval Investigative Service. Lewy wrote that the report stated that some veterans contacted by the NIS did not attend the WSI hearing in Detroit or had never been to Detroit, and many refused to be interviewed. However, government officials today cannot verify the report's existence, and no other historian has seen it.[6] Lewy later said that he could not recall if he had actually seen the alleged report or simply been told of its contents.[7] [8][9] NCIS Badge The Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) is the United States Department of the Navys primary law enforcement agency and successor to the former Naval Investigative Service (NIS). ...


See the text of this excerpt from Guenter Lewy's book, America in Vietnam, in wikiquote


In addition, the Army found the allegations made by 46 veterans at the hearings to merit further inquiry, and were able to identify 43 of the complainants. The Army's CID investigators attempted to contact 41 of the people who testified; of the 36 they were able to locate, 31 submitted to interviews. [10]


Winter Soldier panels

See Opening statement excerpt in wikiquote


The three days of testimony was presented by unit:

  • Sunday, January 31st, there were speakers from the 1st Marine Division, 3rd Marine Division, and 1st Air Cavalry Division
  • Monday, February 1st, from the 101st Airborne Division and 5th Special Forces
  • Tuesday, February 2nd, from the 25th Infantry Division, 1st Infantry Division, 4th Infantry Division, 9th Infantry Division, and Lieutenant Calley's Americal Division

In addition to the testimony panels, the veterans also held open discussions on related subjects such as "What We Are Doing to Vietnam," "What We Are Doing to Ourselves," violations of international law, Prisoners of War, racism in the military, and also press censorship. Dr. Bert Pfeiffer of the University of Montana presented the first public testimony about the potential toxicity and health effects of the chemical Agent Orange. A special panel of psychiatrists was convened, many of whom had served in Vietnam, to discuss the impact of the war on American society. Midway through the hearings, the organizers insisted that no one make statements on behalf of the Vietnam veterans except for vets. It was presumed by reporters that this was to separate the participation of veterans from that of people like Mark Lane.[11] January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... February 1 is the 32nd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. ... The 9th Infantry Division was a unit of the United States Army in World War II. World War II Activated: 1 August 1940. ...


Testimony from veterans

Testimony given during the three day event covered both broad policy concerns, such as the use of chemical agents, indiscriminate bombing, and free-fire zones as well as more specific and unusual war crime incidents, including rape, torture and desecration of the dead. The testifying veterans were usually grouped by branch of military service, and geographic location of service. Before launching into their detailed testimony, each gave a brief statement of personal information including rank, division, unit, length of service and a summary of what their testimony would cover. While only 109 veterans gave testimony, over 700 veterans attended the hearing. Excerpts from the testimony transcripts:

Stephen Craig: "...My testimony covers the maltreatment of prisoners, the suspects actually, and a convoy running down an old woman with no reason at all..."
Rusty Sachs: "...my testimony concerns the leveling of villages for no valid reason, throwing Viet Cong suspects from the aircraft after binding them and gagging them with copper wire..."
Scott Camil: "...My testimony involves burning of villages with civilians in them, the cutting off of ears, cutting off of heads, torturing of prisoners, calling in of artillery on villages for games, corpsmen killing wounded prisoners..."
Kenneth Campbell: "...My testimony will consist of eyewitnessing and participating in the calling in of artillery on undefended villages, mutilation of bodies, killing of civilians, mistreatment of civilians..."
Fred Nienke: "...My testimony includes killing of non-combatants, destruction of Vietnamese property and livestock, use of chemical agents and the use of torture in interpreting prisoners..."

After giving their brief initial statements, a moderator had each of them elaborate upon their testimony, and then the press and observers were given time to ask questions of the veterans. Scott Camil (born 1946 in Brooklyn, New York, United States) is a noted political activist. ...


Laos operation revealed

The previously secret two-week U.S. penetration into Laos in February, 1969, which was part of Operation Dewey canyon (primarily taking place in South Vietnam at the time), became a controversial subject at this event since the Pentagon had only days before denied that any American troops had crossed the Laotian border and carried out military operations. Five veterans from the Third Marine regiment who had returned from the war were present at the WSI and refuted the claims of the Pentagon. They described their secret operations in Laos and also revealed that they were given meticulous orders to hide the fact that they were American including, but not limited to, the removal of identification from uniforms and switching to Russian arms that were typically used by the NVA. They were also ordered to deny all knowledge of involvement of American troops in Laos. A Marine Corp spokesman persisted in issuing a statement at the WSI saying, "no platoons or any large number of Marines ever crossed the border." This quickly prompted investigations by American media such as the "Detroit Free Press," "St. Louis Post-Dispatch" and the "Boston Globe" which were successful in turning up testimonies from other veterans that they had crossed into Laos throughout a 16 month period extending through all of 1971, well past the enactment of the Cooper-Church amendment forbidding such actions (Cooper Church came into effect in January 1971). The 1969 operation was committed by a company commander and was subsequently authorized by General Creighton Abrams, commander of all US forces in Vietnam. The reason given for moving his company into Laos was to combat the North Vietnamese Army and protect his men, later claiming "The political implications of going into Laos were pretty unimportant to me then." [12] Investigations also revealed that the Laos operations extended beyond the Marines as helicopter pilots from the 101st Airborne admitted participation in the American co-ordinated secret operation called Prairie Fire (helicopter pilots were not forbidden under Cooper-Church). These revelations that the U.S. government had violated the Cooper-Church amendment further darkened the public's trust in the administration as well as its opinion on the war.[13] Year 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1969 calendar). ... Official language Vietnamese Capital Saigon Last President Duong Van Minh Last Prime Minister Vu Van Mau Area  - Total  - % water 173,809 km² N/A Population  - Total  - Density 19,370,000 (1973 est. ... The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located at 48 N. Rotary Road, Arlington, Virginia 22211 (Map). ... The Cooper-Church amendment was introduced in the United States Senate during the Vietnam War and is known as the first amendment to limit presidential powers during war time. ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ... Year 1969 (MCMLXIX) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1969 calendar). ... The Cooper-Church amendment was introduced in the United States Senate during the Vietnam War and is known as the first amendment to limit presidential powers during war time. ...


Winter Soldier results

Senator Hatfield's Address to Congress

On Monday, April 5, 1971, Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon made an address on the Senate Floor urging Congress, State Department and Defense Department to act: April 5 is the 95th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (96th in leap years). ... 1971 (MCMLXXI) was a common year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1971 calendar). ... Mark Odom Hatfield (born July 12, 1922) is an American politician from Oregon. ... Official language(s) None Capital Salem Largest city Portland Area  Ranked 9th  - Total 98,466 sq mi (255,026 km²)  - Width 260 miles (420 km)  - Length 360 miles (580 km)  - % water 2. ...


See the full text of Senator Hatfield's address to Congress urging State Department and Defense Department to act in wikiquote

"A recurrent theme running throughout the testimony is that of institutionalized racist attitudes of the military in their training of the men who are sent to Vietnam--training which has indoctrinated them to think of all Vietnamese as "gooks" and subhuman."
"Further, the thrust of the allegations made in the 3-day testimony is that such actions were the consequence of reasonable and known policy adopted by our military commanders and that the knowledge of incidents resulting from these policies was widely shared."
"Several of the allegations made in this testimony would place the United States in violation of the Geneva Convention and other international agreements relating to the conduct of war which have been ratified by our Government."

The senator went on with recommendations: The Geneva Conventions consist of treaties formulated in Geneva, Switzerland that set the standards for international law for humanitarian concerns. ...

  • Therefore, first I ask unanimous consent that the testimony presented by over 100 honorably discharged veterans in Detroit be placed in the Congressional Record. I realize that the testimony is very lengthy, but its full force and content must be made available so that it can be read and judged on its own merits.
  • Second, I will transmit this testimony to the Department of Defense and the Department of State and urge, in accord with its stated policy, that the evidence and allegations it contains be fully investigated.
  • Third, I urge the appropriate committees of the Congress to conduct hearings on the policies governing the use of military force in Indochina and their relation to international agreements our country has ratified.
  • Fourth, I recommend consideration be given to forming a special commission that would investigate in full these matters and would provide a forum to assess the moral consequences of our involvement in Indochina to us as a Nation and a people.

Hatfield transmitted the testimony to the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the Marine Commandant, Leonard F. Chapman, Jr., in particular and urged that the evidence and allegations it contains be fully investigated. The Pentagon has not publicly responded to this investigation request. Leonard Fielding Chapman, Jr. ... Look up pentagon in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...


Changing perceptions of veterans

As noted by author Gerald Nicosia in his history of the Vietnam veterans movement Home to War,

"Winter Soldier heralded a significant change of opinion in the American public toward the Vietnam veterans -- not only in terms of a new willingness to hear their side of things, but also in the amount of respect and credibility they were accorded. Over a dozen members of Congress endorsed the hearings. South Dakota Senator George S. McGovern, who would challenge Richard Nixon in the 1972 Presidential race, and Congressman John Conyers, Jr., of Michigan called for full Congressional investigations into charges leveled by the veterans at Winter Soldier; and Berkeley's radical black Congressman Ronald Dellums offered the veterans office space in Washington, where they could repeat their charges within a stone's throw of the House Armed Forces Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"Perhaps most striking about Winter Soldier was the great humility of all involved. These men, who deserved to be honored for the courage it took to bare their pain and to assume responsibility for actions their country had asked them to perform -- even as they had already been honored (at least minimally, with medals and citations) for risking their lives in the performance of those deeds -- now came before the world in an attitude of profound apology. On the last night of Winter Soldier, several carloads of veterans drove across the border to Windsor, Canada, to meet with a delegation of Vietnamese students in exile, who had been denied visas by the Canadian government to come to Detroit for the hearings. These American veterans signed their own symbolic "people's peace treaty" with the Vietnamese there. As Jan Barry recalls, the gesture was intended as a means of embracing the people they had harmed, of asking forgiveness for those they had killed.
"Despite the leftist orientation of many of its sponsors, Winter Soldier did not come off as an attack on the United States. What the veterans insisted over and over was that America knew better than to do the things it was doing in Vietnam. They pointed out that search-and-destroy missions, free-fire zones, the relocation of people into strategic hamlets (which were enclosed by barbed-wire, and hardly more congenial than a concentration camp), defoliation of agricultural land, and B-52 pattern-bombing raids against undefended villages and populated areas (which refused to distinguish between combatants and civilians) were all in violation of codes and treaties which the United States had previously signed or accepted: the Rules of Land Warfare, the Geneva Conventions and Accords, and the Nuremberg Charter.
"In effect, the veterans were asking America to listen to its own much-touted morality, and to begin to practice what it had spent two centuries preaching. At the same time, though, the veterans were careful to point out that the war crimes the United States was committing in Vietnam did not stem from the misconduct of individual soldiers -- which the government had tried to establish by scapegoating Calley and a handful of his fellow officers -- but resulted rather "from conscious military policies... designed by the military brass, National Security Council, and major universities and corporate institutions, and passed down through the chain of command for conversion into Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs) in the field."

While no one involved with the Winter Soldier Investigation, and subsequent Senate hearings, ever accused "all" servicemen of misconduct - it was made evident the problem had grown beyond "isolated incident" status. The problem was perceived by the participants as epidemic, and was seen as ignored and even condoned by leaders at all levels in the military and government. Winter Soldier was the culmination of efforts to bring national attention to this situation, and to expedite the end of America's participation in the Vietnam conflict. Official language(s) English Capital Pierre Largest city Sioux Falls Area  Ranked 17th  - Total 77,163 sq mi (199,905 km²)  - Width 210 miles (340 km)  - Length 380 miles (610 km)  - % water 1. ... George McGovern on May 8, 1972 cover of Time Magazine Dr. George Stanley McGovern (born July 19, 1922) was a United States Congressman, Senator, and Democratic presidential nominee, who lost the 1972 presidential election in a landslide to incumbent Richard Nixon. ... Nixon redirects here. ... John Conyers John Conyers, Jr. ... Official language(s) None (English, de-facto) Capital Lansing Largest city Detroit Area  Ranked 11th  - Total 97,990 sq mi (253,793 km²)  - Width 239 miles (385 km)  - Length 491 miles (790 km)  - % water 41. ... Ronald Vernie Dellums (born November 24, 1935), U.S. Democratic Party politician, was a U.S. Representative from California from 1971 until 1999. ... U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations is a standing committee of the United States Senate. ... Development of the Geneva Conventions from 1864 to 1949. ...


Media coverage

Mainstream media all but ignored the Winter Soldier Investigation. The East Coast papers refused to cover the hearings, other than a New York Times story a week later. The local field reporter for the Times, Jerry M. Flint, commented with disinterest, "this stuff happens in all wars." In a February 7, 1971 article he wrote that "much of what they said had been reported or televised before, even from Vietnam. What was different here was the number of veterans present." Several of the VVAW representatives speculated that there was an "official censorship blackout," and they would express this theory later in their newsletter. A few articles that were sympathetic to the veterans appeared in lesser-known publications, and Pacifica Radio, known for its left-wing perspective, gave the event considerable coverage. The CBS television crew that showed up were impressed, but only three minutes made it to the nightly news on the first night -- three minutes that were "mostly irrelevant to the subject," according to VVAW. [14] The New York Times is an internationally known daily newspaper published in New York City and distributed in the United States and many other nations worldwide. ...


The Detroit Free Press printed several stories about the event, including comments from the military. This included confirmation by the Pentagon that WSI participants investigated by reporters were indeed Vietnam veterans. The Pentagons denials of large scale U.S. activity in Laos was reported as well, until reporters learned from several marines not involved with WSI that operations in Laos had been conducted. Along with The Detroit News, the Detroit Free Press is one of the two major metro Detroit newspapers. ...


The words of the participants have been permanently recorded in the Congressional Record. Portions of the testimony, as well as some photos of the event, appear in a book produced by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War and John Kerry entitled The New Soldier.


In addition, film footage of the event, as well as some pre-event and post-event footage, and commentary can be found in Winter Soldier: A film / Winterfilm Collective in association with Vietnam Veterans Against the War. Winterfilm, Inc., 1972. The Winterfilm Collective consisted of: Fred Aranow, Nancy Baker, Joe Bangert, Rhetta Barron, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, David Grubin, Jeff Holstein, Barbara Jarvis, Al Kaupas, Barbara Kopple, Mark Lenix, Michael Lesser, Nancy Miller, Lee Osborne, Lucy Massie Phenix, Roger Phenix, Benay Rubenstein, and Michael Weil. ... Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) is a tax-exempt Non-profit organization and corporation, originally created to oppose the Vietnam War. ...

  • Film version: 1972, B&W, 16mm, 93min.
  • Videotape: 1992, B&W with some color, 110 or 130 minutes
  • The Winterfilm Collective consisted of: Fred Aranow, Nancy Baker, Joe Bangert, Rhetta Barron, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, David Grubin, Jeff Holstein, Barbara Jarvis, Al Kaupas, Barbara Koppel, Mark Lenix, Michael Lesser, Nancy Miller, Lee Osborne, Lucy Massie Phenix, Roger Phenix, Benay Rubenstein, Michael Weil.

Despite significant fund raising efforts by supporters of the VVAW, the cost of the Winter Soldier Investigation event financially bankrupted the organization. Organizers of the event hoped to recoup some of their expenditures through the above mentioned book, film and recording deals. Orders were taken at the event for copies of the film footage, which was to be made available for $300. The Winterfilm Collective consisted of: Fred Aranow, Nancy Baker, Joe Bangert, Rhetta Barron, Robert Fiore, David Gillis, David Grubin, Jeff Holstein, Barbara Jarvis, Al Kaupas, Barbara Kopple, Mark Lenix, Michael Lesser, Nancy Miller, Lee Osborne, Lucy Massie Phenix, Roger Phenix, Benay Rubenstein, and Michael Weil. ...


In 2005, a website wintersoldierfilm.com was established to spread information about this documentary and to spread information about further showings of the film (in the United States). [15]


Winter Soldier controversy

Further information: Criticism of the Winter Soldier Investigation
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Winter Soldier Investigation

Veteran Steve Pitkin, who was 20 years old at the time, has claimed that he was not originally planning to testify at the WSI, but came to Detroit to support his fellow veterans and listen to live music [16]. Pitkin says he was asked by event leaders to speak on the second day of the event. On the panel Pitkin criticized the press for its coverage of the war, and detailed what he considered poor training for combat in Vietnam, and low morale he claimed to have witnessed while there [17]. Pitkin is quoted as saying he was later contacted by a reporter for Life Magazine who asked about war crimes and atrocities. "I didn’t tell him what he wanted to hear," Pitkin is quoted as saying, and nothing he claims to have said was included in the final story [18]. In August, 2004, 33 years after the Winter Soldier Investigation and during the 2004 presidential campaign season, Pitkin signed an affidavit stating "John Kerry and other leaders of that event pressured me to testify about American war crimes, despite my repeated statements that I could not honestly do so." [19] It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Winter Soldier Investigation. ... Image File history File links Wikiquote-logo-en. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ...


Upon hearing of these statements by Pitkin, another participant named Scott Camil filed his own affidavit refuting Pitkins statements [20]. Pitkin has subsequently admitted his recollections were flawed, and has re-issued a second affidavit now reflecting a different date of discharge from the Army, different people traveling with him to the Winter Soldier event, and different circumstances under which he joined the VVAW [21]. On September 15, 2004, Pitkin signed a second affidavit stating that he had been instructed by organizers to "publicly state that I had witnessed incidents of rape, brutality, atrocities and racism, knowing that such statements would necessarily be untrue" [22]. However, although he introduced himself by saying, "I'll testify about the beating of civilians and enemy personnel, destruction of villages, indiscriminate use of artillery, the general racism and the attitude of the American GI toward the Vietnamese," his actual testimony contained no such statements [23]. An affidavit is a formal sworn statement of fact, signed by the declarant (who is called the affiant), and witnessed (as to the veracity of the affiants signature) by a taker of oaths, such as a notary public. ...


The U.S. participation in the Vietnam conflict was the source of much deeply divided sentiment among Americans. The Winter Soldier Investigation produced a conglomerate of testimony resulting in the implication and indictment of American leadership in criminal conduct, and thereby further drove a wedge between proponents and opponents of the war. Many people viewed the Winter Soldier proceedings with a critical eye, and questions have been raised about the testimony given at the Winter Soldier Investigation. Details in the testimonies have been questioned, as have the identities of participants, since the first day of the three day investigation. It has been claimed that participants were frauds; that they were told to not cooperate with later investigators; that their testimonies were inaccurate or just plain fabricated. For more than thirty years since the WSI, individuals and organizations have sought to discredit or at least minimize the painful revelations brought forth at that event. To date, no records of fraudulent participants or fraudulent testimony have been produced.


Footnotes

  1.   From John Kerry and VVAW
  2.   Column Sixty-Eight; February 1, 2002 (Article with excerpts from the book); Nicosia, Gerald (2001). Home To War: A History Of The Vietnam Veterans' Movement. Crown. ISBN 0-8129-9103-6. 
  3.   Jackson, David (February 22, 2004). "Foes lash Kerry for Vietnam War words". Chicago Tribune: (Page 3). "Government officials today cannot verify that Naval Investigative Service report's existence. "We have not been able to confirm the existence of this report, but it's also possible that such records could have been destroyed or misplaced," said Naval Criminal Investigative Service public affairs specialist Paul O'Donnell. "I don't think Lewy is interested in presenting any of [the Winter Soldier testimony] as truthful," said University of Richmond history professor Ernest Bolt. "He has an angle on the war as a whole." Bolt said it is impossible to tell whether Lewy fairly characterized the naval investigative report because no other historian had seen it. "He's using the points of their investigation that fit his purposes," Bolt said.";
  4.  Bowman, Tom (Feb 14, 2004). "Kerry went from soldier to anti-war protester". Baltimore Sun: 1A. "Lewy said he does not recall if he saw a copy of the naval investigative report or was briefed on its contents. "I'm quite confident the information is authentic," he said."

See also

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to:
Winter Soldier Investigation
  • "Going Upriver" - Documentary detailing John Kerry's participation in the Vietnam war and subsequent antiwar movement.
  • "Vietnam War Crimes Working Group Files" - Briefly declassified (1994) and subsequently reclassified (c. 2002) documentary evidence compiled by a Pentagon task force detailing endemic war crimes. The files, prepared by Army investigators, substantiate 320 incidents, which include seven massacres from 1967 through 1971 in which at least 137 civilians died (not including My Lai), as well as 78 other attacks on noncombatants in which at least 57 were killed, 56 wounded and 15 sexually assaulted; in addition, 149 instances are documented in which U.S. soldiers tortured civilian detainees or prisoners of war.

Image File history File links Wikiquote-logo-en. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Going Upriver: The Long War of John Kerry is a documentary film on U.S. Senator John Kerrys military service during the Vietnam War and his subsequent participation in the peace movement. ... The United States National Archives and Records Administration houses a collection of formerly secret documents compiled by Pentagon investigators in the early 1970s. ...

External links

Further reading

  • Kerry, John & Vietnam Veterans Against the War (1971). The New Soldier. CA: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-02-073610-X
  • Nicosia, Gerald (2002). Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans' Movement. CA: Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-609-80906-7
  • Lewy, Guenter (1978). America in Vietnam. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-502391-9. ISBN 0-19-502732-9 pbk.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Winter Soldier - The Film | About The Film (766 words)
Winter Soldier documents the "Winter Soldier Investigation" conducted by Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW) in Detroit, Michigan in the winter of 1971.
The film is a rare and raw telling, by soldiers in the war in Vietnam, of the training for and the experience of war, in which young men kill and do horrific things to other human beings, in the name of patriotism and comraderie.
The Winter Soldier Investigation was an attempt at the process of truth and reconciliation, initiated and carried out by veterans of the war in Vietnam and largely ignored by the government that was continuing to carry on that war.
VVAW and the Winter Soldier Investigation (1971) (736 words)
Although the media showed little interest in the Winter Soldier Investigation, veterans such as John Kerry, a VVAW leader by 1971, testified about VVAW's investigation in a Senate committee hearing April 22, 1971.
Richard R. Moser's The New Winter Soldiers: GI and Veteran Dissent during the Vietnam Era (1996) is the latest treatment of this subject.
Moser's view is that there were "new winter soldiers" in the winter of 1971, those who testified at the VVAW's "Winter Soldier Investigation." Former GIs who had served in Vietnam as citizen-soldiers (nonprofessionals, draftees largely) spoke out as citizen activists for peace and justice.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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