Daily Video

May 22, 2008

Iraq Veterans Speak Out Against Conduct of the War

The Congressional Progressive Caucus recently heard presentations from returning troops alleging widespread misconduct they personally witnessed or participated in during their time in Iraq.

They have dubbed themselves “Winter Soldiers,” the same name used by Vietnam veterans who reported similar alleged abuses during that war. Their personal stories include accounts of unwarranted killings of Iraqi civilians and mistreatment of detainees that were met with indifference or encouragement by commanding officers.

In this video report NewsHour correspondent Kwame Holman analyzes this situation with the help of two military experts with divergent views.

Quotes

“I was involved in firefights during which the rules of engagement were lifted by the chain of command or were simply ignored, resulting in needless and strategically counterproductive civilian deaths.” – Sgt. Jason Lemieux, Iraq War veteran

“If they feel that strongly about it, for the sake of their consciences, then they should name the names. Otherwise, what they’re indicating is that something was widespread and it wasn’t widespread.” – Cpt. Bing West, U.S. Marine Corps

“What’s going on or what was going or has been going on in Iraq and Afghanistan is so pervasive that we haven’t got enough lawyers, if we were going to charge everyone that we suspected of having committed such an act.” – Lt. Col. Gary Solis, U.S. Marine Corps

Warm Up Questions

1. Are there rules in war? What do you think the rules are?

Discussion Questions

1. When should you expose wrongdoing? Why do some people stay quiet when they see abuse or illegal activity?

2. Do you believe the soldiers? Why would officers lie in reports?

3. If you were a soldier, would you speak out about illegal activity if you saw it? What are the pros and cons?

Additional Resources

Read the transcript

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