MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST: As veterans of the Iraq and Afghan war testify here about their experiences, over 30 protesters are standing outside. They’re holding flags and signs saying, “We support the troops.”
March 14, 2008
EAGLES UP PROTESTER 1: We want to make sure that we have the backs of our Iraqi veterans, Iraqi warriors, Afghani warriors, those who are in harm’s way right now. We are very concerned about the IVAW’s motives. We know what happened in 1971 when John Kerry conducted the first Winter Soldiers investigation, and all of those that testified were false. They were proven false. And, unfortunately, there was no vetting done of their testimony; it was simply accepted as fact, sent to the Congress. The Congress smeared an entire generation of warriors by surrendering Vietnam and causing us to be labeled as rapists, killers, you know, killers of, shooters of animals, and all that. Mistakes are made in war from time to time, but the military takes those actions, investigates them, and prosecutes when there are actions that warrant those types of things. But we want to see the truth come out here. We fought and died and bled so that we could all speak freely, we could all assemble freely. But we have basically a model that we would like to see the Iraq Veterans Against the War follow. That would be any testimony that they give with regard to either the government or the warriors to identify time, date, place, witnesses, chain of command, and do so under oath. And if they do that, then we’re going to ask the following question: why didn’t you report what you are claiming at the time?
PALEVSKY: Is there something that is dangerous about testifying to your experience, as the vets are doing, that you are against?
PROTESTER 1: As long as it’s truthful. That’s our whole reason for being here is we want truth. If someone makes a statement about a criminal act, no one gets prosecuted just based on a rumor. I mean, our justice system, you know, there’s an investigation done, there has to be proof, and that’s what we’re asking in there. We don’t begrudge anybody for saying what they want to say, but don’t broad-brush and smear an entire generation of Iraqi warriors or Afghani warriors because of some rumor. They have to be able to substantiate and prove what they’re saying.
PALEVSKY: Something brought you out here before the testimonies began. What was that?
PROTESTER 1: Exactly. What brought us out here was what happened to us, the Vietnam-era veteran, because we were smeared with false information, a whole generation of Vietnam veterans, simply because there was false information. We don’t want to see that happen to a new generation. We’re here standing up for our Iraqi veterans.
PROTESTER 2: I’m out here, you know, for the same reason as everybody else. If these guys have some evidence of any atrocities or anything that’s been committed in Iraq and Afghanistan, do it in a sworn forum, do it under oath, present it in a forum where it can be verified. And if anything happened, the people who did it can be held accountable. Every organization in the world has its bad apples, from the military to corporations. I’m not going to say whether it’s not normal from what I’ve seen, it’s not normal from anything any of my friends who have served over there now have seen. Again, if this stuff happened, even if it’s just the indiscriminate actions of a few, there’s no way you can slander the whole, because the majority of our soldiers who are over there, they’re doing the right thing, they’re serving honorably. And whatever comes out of this investigation, true or not, it’s going to be made to slander the whole, and that’s what we’re trying to prevent here. I understand their sentiment. I don’t support it, but I understand it. They’ve more than earned the right to say what they need to say. The only thing I’m asking for as a veteran is let’s do it in the correct forum, and I believe this isn’t it.
PALEVSKY: What was your rank, and what was your experience?
PROTESTER 2: I was a petty officer, second-class. I was aboard the USS Constellation during the shock and awe strikes at the beginning of the war.
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.