Winter Soldier Testimony… a mother witnesses the confessions of our atrocities.

Here is more from a witness of the Winter Soldier testimonies from the Global Research page:

On Friday, Day 2, testimony began at 9 AM with a panel about the “Rules of Engagement”. Speakers from the Army and Marine Corps. — people that I have known for the last few years — recounted the atrocities that they not only witnessed but participated in. Anyone who is interested can listen online at www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier. But about halfway into that panel, I lost my objectivity. The stories they were telling about the rules of engagement they learned while training at boot camp, or on a military base “back home”, were the same as what I had heard from my son. I broke down sobbing. The photographs they were showing on the five viewing screens of bloodied bodies torn apart by close gunfire, 50-calibre Machine guns, rocket launchers, and every other damn weapon our great military industrial complex has created, were all too familiar to me. When my son returned home from both war zones, he was so eager to share his stories and pictures.

I could not fathom that my son, whom I raised to be a Catholic, whom I took to Sunday school, who received Communion and Confirmation, had not only been a participant in such horrors, but had pictures to prove it. I immediately told him that I would not listen to his stories or look at those pictures. He could speak with his father. My response may seem too many as being hard on my son, who only wanted to unload what he was feeling on his mother. But I couldn’t come to terms with it then — or now.

Watching and listening to the testimony made me very ill. Here were these young men and women, handsomely dressed, some wearing medals, talking about how they shot civilians who were holding nothing more threatening than a cell phone, groceries, a shovel, a white flag, or a pair of binoculars. Anyone deemed suspicious by the particular soldier or Marine on watch was fair game, subject to the orders, “Take ‘em out!” The Rules of Engagement, as stated by Garrett Rapenhagen were “a joke and disgrace, and ever changing.”

I knew that. I had heard it back home from my son. He told me he had to survive; he had to protect his buddies, so that they could all come home alive. They didn’t know who the enemy was, so they would just “blast them away.” The Marines are taught that. They shoot and don’t even ask questions. Their motto is “Kill ‘em all and let God sort them out!”

Camilo Mejia, who is the chair of IVAW, spoke about how soldiers were trained that dehumanizing the enemy is necessary to survival, and how they are taught to think of Iraqis as “hajjis”. In fact, all of the panel members said Iraqi citizens were repeatedly referred to as hajjis. I know that word all too well; I have heard my son talk about it, as well as other anti-Iraqi slurs such as “towel head,” and “sand nigger.” The expression “if you feel threatened, use your weapon” was also a familiar phrase to me. So, too, was the slogan, “Do what you need to do.” That meant that you use your rifle anytime, and you can crush whoever you want with your vehicle in the street.

Members on the panel recounted how, when they were bored, they blew up dogs and other animals to keep themselves entertained. All too well I had heard these stories, which gave me the creeps more than anything else. I also heard the testimony of former Cpl. Matt Childers, who said that after American soldiers had already beaten and starved detainees in their custody, one of them removed a hat from one of the detainees’ heads and smeared it with his own feces, before feeding it to one of the prisoners who was so hungry that he actually attempted to eat it.

One other Marine, whom I happened to interview personally — which produced a conversation I hope to describe more fully in a future article — was Bryan Casler. Casler was part of the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. He described Marines taking their MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat) which were in plastic bags, and defecating in them before tossing them out to Iraqi children on the side of the road. Those who picked them up would think they were food and attempt to eat the contents. Casler also said soldiers would urinate in bottles and throw them at children. They would also remove the chemical packets that were within the MREs (which helped heat the food) and hand them to children to eat. He said that when they went into Babylon, the marines would drive vehicles into mosques and historic ruins, and break off pieces to take home with them.

Some of the soldiers’ testimony was characterized by defiant anger. At the end of his testimony, former Marine Mike Totten ripped up the commendation he had received from General Petraeus, and threw it on the floor in front of him, to a huge applause. One day earlier, former Marine Jon Turner had taken a chest full of medals and thrown them into the audience. “I don’t work for you anymore!” Turner said. At the end of his heart-wrenching account of the atrocities he had witnessed or committed, Turner begged the Iraqi people for forgiveness.

All too well I know these stories, and have known them for years. So I kept crying and asking myself how these young men and women wound up in this position. How someone who joined the military out of a sense of “patriotism” wound up doing such horrible and heinous things that would make a mother sick to her stomach. How do we let our children do this? Casler, like my son, joined right out of high school. Many others do the same. And many don’t have to be recruited; they join voluntarily, out of a desire to serve their country. Many feel that doing so is what makes heroes.

So I spent three days listening to heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching stories, and continuously asked myself the same question: “Why?” More specifically, why do these soldiers and Marines, who represent a critical new breed of resisters, still feel so tied to the military that many of them espouse some variation of the sentiment, “I am proud of my service in the military. I am not proud of what I did.” For someone like me, I can clearly see that statement making sense. But then I had to ask myself why I thought it made sense.

How could you be proud to be in the military, and yet not like what you participated in while in the military? I have often asked my son this question. He says, “I love the Marine Corps. , but hate the government.” What a deep statement – one that conjures up very mixed, confusing emotions. So I have to examine not only the statements of love, but of loathing for war. War is a dirty business, forever has been and forever will be. So why do we encourage our citizens to think otherwise?

Read more here:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=8445

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