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A panel of Democrats in the House of Representatives heard presentations last week from a group of veterans who say they witnessed and participated in widespread misconduct during their time in Iraq.
As the House debate continued last week over funding the Iraq war, leading anti-war Democrats convened nearby to hear from a group of veterans who say they witnessed and participated in widespread misconduct during their time in Iraq.
The stories came from a dozen or so former Marines and soldiers who left Iraq at least two years ago. They include accounts of unwarranted killings of Iraqi civilians and mistreatment of detainees that were met with indifference or encouragement by commanding officers.
Two of the men said the weight of such experiences led them to suicide attempts.
They have dubbed themselves "Winter Soldiers," the same name used by Vietnam veterans who reported similar alleged abuses during that war.
They were welcomed by California's Lynn Woolsey.
REP. LYNN WOOLSEY (D), California: We now have an opportunity to hear from not the military's top brass, but directly from you.
Jason Lemieux was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps two years ago following three combat tours in Iraq.
FORMER SGT. JASON LEMIEUX, U.S. Marine Corps:
Please understand that what you hear from me is the tip of the iceberg.
Lemieux described an incident near Ramadi early in 2006. A Marine platoon had received intermittent gunfire, four shots in all.
In preparing a report on the incident, he said the unit responded with excessive force, firing thousands of rifle and machine gun rounds, anti-tank weapons, and other heavy weaponry in the general direction of the incoming shots.
Lemieux said, when he tried to enter those facts in a report, a superior officer stopped him and then changed the report.
SGT. JASON LEMIEUX:
And he said, "You said here that the platoon only took four rounds of enemy fire. There's no way they expended all that ammo and they only took four rounds." He then proceeded to sit down at my intelligence computer and falsified the very same report that he had just accused me of falsifying.
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