Monday, December 25, 2006

New Boss same as the Old Boss?
Dialogue: The Fuel of Truth...
Willie Hager
(sometimes aka Wilder)

Now that the “worst” Congress in history has adjourned…by worst; I mean the least representative of the interests of the American people since Nixon and, in their own toady kinda way, the most representative of corporate and far Right political interests with their armies of high dollar lobbyists and 527s…I think that it is appropriate to look back for lessons. Like, how to make sure that it never happens again; only for real, this time!

Before we do, we must acknowledge that while the Repugs and Neocons were soundly defeated as far as control of Congress is concerned; they are definitely not out of biz. Like cockroaches, they simply scurried for cover when the light of Political Truth began shining too brightly. Should that light dim again, they will all come swarming back. We must also acknowledge that it was our own complacency in not maintaining the very principles which we had rallied around to bring about the historical toppling of the Nixon machine that lost the Left the much needed attention and support of the “political center”, who it seems, had melted back into the heartland, and/or into the Me-ness of the 80’s as a result of that oversight.

This sad state of affairs came as a result of the astonishing lack of attention to Constitutional principle of government for all the people. The very principle which had driven us all to victory through an evolution of personal, social, and political repression and metamorphosis. All of this with a price tag of personal economic sacrifices, as well. Not keeping this fresh in our hearts, in our consciences, and in our daily lives is what allowed that amazing breathe of fresh air called Political and Social Freedom to be sucked out of our nation. That, and repression and re-framing of the political arguement by the Right, to suit their own ends. Tyranny, once again, had become as rampant and as divisive as it was during the fascist years of Nixon and his cronies.

This losing sight of the ball on the part of the American People ultimately led to the Political Correctness model of those from the Left seeking public office through pandering to demographically assured voter blocs, and to the self appointed spokespersons of said blocs. New Boss; same as the Old Boss…and we were indeed, fooled again. This was, without a doubt, the great undoing of the most powerful weapon that we had when we ended the Vietnam War and the Nixon reign and lifted the boot-heel of oppression from the necks of many of those very same above mentioned demographic voter blocs The Unity of Purpose and Principle that had carried us to victory in the first place was soon forgotten in the political purges and infighting over the spoils of political and social revolution by the Left of the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

All of this occurred with utter disregard for the equality of personal freedom of speech, religion, sex, and race that were the original impetus for that most important, but ultimately self-defeated, political and social revolution. It manifested itself in powerful minority issue caucuses and Civil Rights lobbyists dealing with religion, sex, guns, and race reinforced with Political Correctness. This lack of dialogue, my friends, is what fueled the equally successful Gingrich Revolution and it’s Contract with America/Family Values agenda and the coming to power of the Neocons. All of this with the gleeful assistance of many of the ol’ Repug Nixon gang, now embedded as lobbyists and 527 political hate groups such as the Swift Boat Vets (known here at VetSpeak respectfully as NSSV’s, or Not So Swift Vets). I guess that it is true that power corrupts.

I hope not. I hope that we have transcended the greed and corruption of personal power that seeped into our great Movement the last time around, and that we now have set out to build a political future for the true soldiers in the current political revolution; the American People. The ones, regardless of party registration that voted the for the candidates and the issues as they apply to their daily lives, and not the agenda of Special Interest groups, whatever their persuasion or cause. All issues should now be considered by their worth and benefit for the largest number of American Citizens, regardless of religion, race, economic status, or party registration. This means bringing an end to the era of “Political Correctness” and divisive rhetoric from all parties that are struggling around these issues. In other words, civility and respect for one another in our dealings with the matters that most affect us as citizens of a free and great nation. The time has come to separate political party registration from the concept of “affiliation”, or “allegiance” and begin to consider what would be the best decisions for us as a majority of American Citizens, rather than as members of individual advocacy groups, locked into divisive Politically Correct agendas, whether they happen to be from the Left or the Right.

Unity of Purpose and Principle is what got us to this major Congressional power shift this time around, just like it did back in The Day. We should stick with it, this time. Being a registered Democrat does not mean, by any stretch of imagination, that one does or must, for fear of personal retribution or political or social ostracization, vote the party candidate or line. Blacks don’t necessarily have to vote the Democratic ticket, anymore than middle class white folks must vote the Republican ticket. In order to be good Americans, we each simply need vote our conscience. And when the vote is in, respect and support the results. Political Parties, corporate lobbying groups, 527s and minority advocacy groups aren’t mentioned in the Constitution. However; guarantees of Individual Liberty, Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Choice most certainly are. In America, according to our Constitution; we are entitled as U.S. Citizens, to speak our personal thoughts and ideas, and to vote our personal choice without fear of oppression from any individual, corporation, political party or faction. In the end; it’s not up to anybody but us to make sure that we don’t get fooled, again.

We cannot retreat into our own personal worlds again. We are all in this together. The Repugs haven’t retired from the fray, they are simply re-grouping, waiting for an exposed artery…or for the light of Truth to dim, again. We must remain vigilant. If we are truly going to make a better quality of life for all of the citizens of our great nation, we must remain engaged. We have a responsibility to stay tuned in, and to speak up assertively when someone is singing out of Constitutional tune, or forgets the words and guarantees, no matter what political party or special interest that they might represent.

We must not allow personality cults or personal power and enrichment to corrupt our political/social leadership at our own personal expense or welfare, ever again. We cannot neglect our constitutional duty to continue to Speak Truth to Power. We must, as a people united, set the agenda, and not allow the 527s, or the political campaign managers, or the minority caucuses, or the media pundits to usurp our privilege and responsibility, ever again. That is our responsibility as a free thinking, self governed People. We cannot allow the new congressional leadership to define and set policy, any more than we can allow the Neocons to take charge again; we must remain engaged in open respectful dialogue at all levels in order to ensure that our Representatives indeed represent an agenda perceived as correct by the majority of American Citizens, and not one designed by corporate lobbyists and special interest groups.

Dialogue is the fuel of Truth…silence is the fuel of tyranny. The choice is ours.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Open mouth, insert foot...
What goes 'round, comes 'round..."Manifestation of Foot In Mouth Syndrome"
Bill Hager AKA Wilder

O.k., O.k.; I wish it would just go away, too. But it ain't gonna. So, it seems to me that rather than hunker in the bunker during this round of incoming from the spinmiesters of the Far Right, maybe we ought to tough up and return fire. Identify the source of fire and gain and maintain fire superiority while employing USMC Fireteam tactics of envelopment to turn the attack and neutralize the attackers...pretty basic stuff, but very effective; ask any USMC Grunt who has served in combat.

The incoming fire is coming from the same ol' gang that brought you the successful frontal assaults on the Kerry campaign re his Vietnam service, back during the last Presidential election (?), those cockroaches who seem to always successfully scurry out of sight when the lights come on exposing their scavenger political activities; Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, or as I call them, the Not So Swift Veterans (NSSVs). They have now spread throughout cyber-space in multiple disguises They only come out when the light of truth has gone out, in order to politically scavenge for leftovers from politically juicy situations for the Repugs to feed themselves and others on, in their march to fascism.

Once again the target of that hostile fire is John Kerry. Been there, done that. VetSpeak was created as a result of the outright lies of the NSSVs during the Presidential election that was stolen by the Neocons (Neoconservatives). It was born from a group encounter by old VVAW (Vietnam Veterans Against The War) types from The Day and the NSSVs while at the 5th Triennial Vietnam Symposium at Texas Tech University (TTU) in Lubbock, Texas (Just scroll down, the NSSVs are on at 0845 on Saturday, March 19th, and we follow at 1030. You can view unedited video feed of the event and find our submitted papers there, as well as at
We weren't at TTU to support John Kerry's political aspirations, per se; we were there to Speak Truth to Power in a direct rebuttal of the tactics of the Repugs in their use of 527s, especially the NSSVs (left over operatives from the Nixon Shame), and their lies regarding Vietnam Veterans, VVAW, and John Kerry and his testimony before Congress during VVAW's Operation Dewey Canyon III in Washington D.C. in April of 1971, during aforementioned election run-up.

The NSSVs smear campaign was in response to John Kerry's political aspirations and his then active campaign for the Presidency. We were there at TTU to respond directly to the NSSVs' outrageous rhetoric in the campaign, which was decidedly derogatory with reference to Vietnam Veterans in general, but which was disgusting in it's absence of fact when applied to those who had fought there and now opposed our further participation in that National disaster known as Vietnam, and was filled with outright lies. I should include here that it is a fact that John Kerry was one of my heroes and an inspiration back in The Day, but his hunkering in the bunker during that despicable assault by the NSSVs definitely tarnished my image of him, and most likely was a determining factor in his loss of many otherwise supportive veterans' support in the critical final days of the election. That's a bummer as it was Dewey Canyon III in general along with Kerry's testimony before Congress on live TV, and the somewhat earlier Winter Soldier Investigation that initially inspired my activities with VVAW for the subsequent four years, and my personal support for him in his recent Presidential bid.

Now, for the "Rest of the story...", as it applies to this latest flare-up twixt the NSSVs and their favorite whipping boy Senator John Kerry, and it's impact on the rapidly approaching mid-term elections. Let me say first that Senator Kerry's under fire comments, whether the ones that were spoken in the piece, or the originally scripted ones that were the supposed to be a joke about The Shrub, were both inappropriate for the occasion and, frankly, lame rhetoric. As a result; he is a tarnished political icon now, like so many other living icons of the Democratic Party and activist Left. A creatively unsolicited distraction for those who truly seek to take our country, our quality of life, and our Flag and Constitution back from the Neocons who currently control the Republican party (and the 527s) from with-in the White House (Yikes!...I'm having a Nixonian flashback!).

Oddly enough, and unfortunately, I think that it is because of his lack of education and judgement on the current facts and issues, and not the troops' lack of good study habits that could possibly keep them stuck in Iraq for at least another two years. Especially if the Democrats don't succeed in taking the House or the Senate this go 'round. It is true that during the Vietnam era, if you were a student and you didn't do well; your ass was headed for the Nam...that went on for ten years. That was a result of the draft, and it's favoritism towards the sons of the rich, well educated, well placed, elected or appointed officials. Remember, "I ain't no Senators son", a ballad from The Day, by John Fogarty? A good report card was the only way out for a guy who didn't fit any of the above categories. In the world of the "All Volunteer Army", which incidentally was brought about as a result of VVAW's, the student anti-war movement's, and the millions of others' protests against the draft for Vietnam; this dynamic of under-educated troops is not a reality. Talk about irony!

In Vietnam most draftees were high school drop-outs, and if you were over 20 years old in Vietnam you were usually referred to as Old Man or Pappy. Today's Armed services are the most highly educated of all time, and while I can't find a statistical reference as to the median age in the armed forces today, it is not unusual for troops to be in their late twenties or early thirties. I can't believe that Kerry could subliminally "Botch a joke" with that knowledge comfortably stashed in his VVAW leader/Senatorial rhetorical grab-bag. Presidential type guys should know the facts about what war they are referring to when they speak out against it, one would think. If it's truly Baby Bush's (Shrub's) education he was referring to, as he says; Shrub, like Clinton and other Presidents, went to Yale. That doesn't make him smart by any stretch, but I gotta say; it makes him "educated" by American standards. So, if it was a joke on Bush (who in himself is a joke); I, for one, didn't, and still don't, get it. Neither I suspect did "middle America", the largest pool of undecided voters. Neither, apparently, do those troops up there in the header picture of this article, regardless of the explanations and subsequent apology.

Sadly, his efforts at explanation, and then it's exploitation by the Repug 527s, led by the NSSVs, has energized the Right and has undermined what was fast becoming a Democratic blitzkrieg on the House of Representatives and the Senate in the upcoming mid-term elections on November 7th. Bush isn't even running, why focus on him with a denigrating joke (as much as he deserves it, considering his I don't have a clue persona)? It's his failed policies, and those who champion them, that should be the focus at this crucial time leading up to the mid-terms. Kind of hard to get the support of the troops when they think that they've been insulted (see picture above) as the result of a "botched joke". This, as a result of the efforts of the NSSVs and other Repug 527s in spinning what was, I believe to be, a badly timed slip of judgement and tongue on Kerry's part, into the message to the American people that Kerry was dissing the troops in order to trash the Democrats regarding their anti-Iraq War message. By playing into the spin with his "explanation". He opened the door for the spinmiesters to take everyone's eye off the ball just before the mid-terms.

His published "full text" of the joke didn't help out, either...with no written reference to Bush; the joke, it turns out, was on Kerry. As I listened for the past few days, I was in pain for Kerry as his convoluted efforts to explain the faux pas away became more and more pathetic. I was reminded over and over of watching Rosemary Woods' testimony before Congress with reference to the erased 18 minutes of the Nixon White House tapes. She just couldn't get her leg up high enough to reach over the desk and "accidentally" hit and hold the "record" button for 18 minutes thereby causing the erasure, in the manner that she claimed before the Congress. Now, that was a joke. Kerry's joke and his explanation of it was like he was shooting himself in the foot with an automatic pistol with a 14 round clip.

More bad judgement, more damage to the Democrats' efforts to focus on the war in Iraq and the reasons for rethinking our commitment to that failed Bush policy. More ammo for his political enemies. When John Kerry should have spoke up against these attacks by the NSSVs during the Presidential election; he remained silent and distanced himself from those who were willing to stand with him. Now, it seems, when discretion is the better part of valor; he can't keep quiet and just stand on his record. Both are a reflection on his judgement, in my opinion. Moral of the story, as so eloquently stated by Lou Dobbs; when you know you are already in a hole, stop digging. And, that's no joke.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Matthew 7:15
…A primer on the mid term elections to be
held on November 7th, 2006…

Bill Hager

As the run-up to the 2008 presidential election begins, the evil that resides in men’s (and women’s…PC!) souls once again begins to bubble and froth to the surface. It’s currently getting a warm up in the form of the 2006 so-called mid-term elections. We’ve all been to this movie before. Emotionally stirring, gut wrenching, often times mind numbing, and almost always filled with celluloid heroes and heroines saving the day and riding off into the sunset…and living happily ever after. No matter how many times we see it, the story and the ending remains the same. It repeats itself visually and verbatim, numbing our senses to the reality that it was created from, or that it claims to represent. No matter the genre, the message is always a reflection of the prevailing values of our time. And we love it! Box office receipts reflect that…as do cable residuals, I might add.

This is the 21st Century, after all. A virtual electronic bombardment of the senses by wondrous feats of technology. Fascinating and compelling in their make up and ability to facilitate research, learning, entertainment, communications, and the general improvement of the quality of life for those who can afford it. And yet, frightening in their ability to condense the state of the world to a few spoon fed sound bytes. Bytes delivered to us from icons of our own making, who are either paying or being paid to deliver mind numbing, insulting, patronizing, factually incorrect, and often subliminal messages on behalf of the highest bidder, whether they be commercial or political…Left or Right; “Let’s Make a Deal!”, personified. A lot easier for “us”; but sadly, a lot easier for “them” to manipulate “us”, as well.

The problem is that in the 21st century we don’t have time to sit and read and digest well written and documented essays reflecting our differences of opinion. Even if the topics are critical to all of ours’ very quality of life and in some cases, actual survival. Instead, our icons feed us the “information” via a multi-plex of multi-media, transported to the masses via the “Information Highway”. We eat it with a very large spoon, as well as with an incredibly short attention span and uncritical eye for, not to mention an unstimulated interest in; the details of the information being disseminated. My grandmother used to say, “Sonny Boy, the Devil is in the details…”. Bad for “us” and good for “them” is the fact that we are imbued with, what seems to be an incredible retentive power for imagery. Therefore, we let the “Talking Heads” of the electronic media do our thinking and deciding for us in the language of sound bytes and spin. This frees us up to paying attention to more important matters, like trying to survive in an economy hostile to all but the corporate coffers and political war chests.

All of this so that our (the masses) personal time will be freed up to concentrate on surviving in the 2 ½ children per family; two under-paid jobs per family; economically corrupted; devoid of meaningful health care; Melting Pot gone awry; racially divisive; educationally backsliding, home of the shrinking middle class and alienated Blue Collar workers…not to mention record corporate profits. The place we proudly call America. Hell, we’re the fuel and the oil for the Big Machine of corporate profit…we should be proud and thankful! Who was it that said; “The business of America is business…”? What a visionary they were! How remiss we are for allowing it to have come to pass.

It’s not hard to understand how we got here. Major world events from Vietnam to Iraq, and natural catastrophic events of the scope of hurricanes Andrew and Katrina have increased our need for “information”, but have unfortunately condensed it for the purposes of our considering it and/or digesting it in ever increasing volumes of impingement. All of this has taken our eye off the ball. We have, since The Great Political Awakening and the political activism of the Nixon Years, slowly back-slid into relinquishing our personal voice and our political soul, the very items we worked so hard and sacrificed so much for under the banner of “political self-determination” back in The Day.

Now, under the “political leadership” of “political pundits”, “Party leaders” and “special interests advocates”…read that as; Lobbyists and well as divisively extreme minority agendas that are driven by, as well as shackled by, the antiquated and devisive ideas of the current “civil rights leadership” icons who have become the High Priests of Leftist politics, and in so doing they’ve taken over the temple of Truth and the money-lenders are back in business, right there on the steps. These are the False Prophets that I am referring to. Beware of them! They truly are what was meant when the term “sheep in wolves clothing” was coined. We take our political direction from those who have since exploited our efforts and successes for their personal, political, and financial gain without consideration to the overall political and financial advancement of the majority of the American people; the very source of those magnificent efforts and successes which they are so adeptly exploiting.

How does this all apply to False Prophets and our choices in the 2008 mid-term elections? Well, for starters; the premises and the topics and the issues are being manipulated by power mongers from both the Left and the Right. Folks who would spend more money in a day of “campaigning” than most of us in “middle” America will ever see or have at one time in a life-time of financially struggling to just barely keep up with "the Joneses" or stay alive as families. Folks who care more about status and power than the day to day health care of our greatest treasure; our children. Folks who would deplete the educational gene pool in order to negate future political competition.

We have surrendered our power to them. Whether as a result of the Gingrich revolution and the re-emergence of many of Nixon’s operatives under the banner of the better organized Neocons who have successfully learned to frame the American political debate; or the stagnation of the concept of united social consciousness of the Left, which set in after the much deserved fall of the Nixon creature from the political stage. We have left in it’s place a Left divided against itself and mainstream societal values as a result of it’s scrabble for increasingly limited resources against a financially bloated and ever “on message” Right. This dynamic has led to the subsequent perpetuation of the ol’ “Civil Rights” activist wing of the Left who have fought valiantly to gather political crumbs through it all, and who have in the process lost The House, The Senate, and The Presidency, and the National Agenda through the disunity and lack of consideration of personal responsibility or personal intellectual growth brought about by Political Correct thinking and tactics. We were fooled again; the “…New Boss, Same as the Old Boss…" is the sad result of this situation.

What to do? Educate yourselves to the issues, and take control of the political agenda by thinking for yourselves about them, instead of parroting what someone else wants you to think about in the lead-up to election day. Think for yourself, speak for yourself. Vote based on your personal knowledge and your own personal political concious. Do not vote along Party lines…instead, vote the candidates character and record based on principles rather than spin. The politics based on practice rather than rhetoric. Apply objective criteria to your evaluation of political messages that reflects the best direction and the best quality of life in all matters political and social for the largest number of those privileged to be Citizens of this great Democracy. This with absolutely no consideration of their race, historical origins, or religion…but for their quality of life, just as it is written in our Constitution and Bill Of Rights, and most importantly; vote every opportunity that you get to support those principles. In doing so, be open to New Ideas and strategies. The old ones sure ain't working out too well, these days. That would not only be the most rewarding thing that we could all do for America and those who claim it’s greatest privilege; Citizenship. It would also be the most Patriotic.
Semper Fi!

Monday, October 16, 2006


A few political operatives of the Right have spent millions of donated money to appear as a "mass movement" of outraged Right-thinking Americans. In reality, there are pitifully few of them, but they have enough support from the Bush/Rovian/Nixonesque political establishment to oil their machines.

The logistics are easy: Take $10 million dollars, hire a web consultant and fancy P.R. firm, reserve a few snappy, misleading domain names, and post your "truth-as-fact" in as many places as it takes to scatter the opposition.

If you're lucky, you might get to rewrite history your way. If not, well, a quick change of identity using what I call cybercamo; and who will know the difference?

Button up, I say. We're coming. And we know exactly Who's Who!

Take, for example, John Kerry's presidential candidacy and the efforts of the Not-So-Swift-Vets For Truth" (NSSV) to discredit Kerry's legitimate Vietnam service record and participation in Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Through the formation of PACs, 527s and multiple websites with names like, (pure cybercamo; it's also the name of a powerful VVAW action now being re-released nationwide on film), the NSSV won a great victory, the Presidency, but left many Americans disheartened and distressed.

Truth is not found in a slogan, or an icon; nor is it found in the coffers or the words of the politically powerful. It is found in the hearts, minds and experience of those who sacrifice to get the word out despite a dazzling glitter of half-truths, distortions, character assassinations and outright lies.

As organizations like the NSSV spin webs of deceit to sustain their personal and political (and largely financial) interests, we little folks and progressive types (like VVAW) sail our modest cybersled computers right alongside them, but with a completely different mission: We refuse to have our history rewritten.

You see, even a child of the forties like me recognizes the potential of the Internet to grassroots' organizing. Thanks to Bill Gates, it no longer takes millions to raise consciousness. Getting the word out by website/email costs as little as $11.95 per month. When the war in Iraq came along, for example, we were no longer stifled by the cost of paper and postage. We reassessed our positions, reframed our arguments in the spirit of George Lakoff, and rejoined the ranks that had sagged after the sorry results of the November elections.

In the spring of 2005, we rallied our resources to participate in an historical open debate with the NSSV at the 5th Triennial Vietnam Symposium at Texas Tech University (TTU) in Lubbock. As expected, the NSSV employed the same self-serving tactics, tricks and smokescreens they used under various names in the Nixon era. Our panel, consisting of early VVAW leaders, artists and authors, countered the way we always have: with the truth.

The TTU debates demonstrate that while cybercamo may work online for the NSSV, even with a $10 million dollar bankroll left over from anti-Kerry/VVAW campaign, it is hard to fool a live audience. Not only were the NSSV's attempts to rewrite history exposed in Texas by their words and actions, the unedited TTU videos are available online for everyone, history included, to judge for themselves.

The Inspiration of TTU

After Lubbock, some of us took positive action, forming, vowing to speak truth to power whenever the NSSVs or the like-minded attempted to publicly minimize and rewrite the sacrifices and contributions that VVAW (and other progressive organizations) make to America.

The NSSVs, however, realizing the serious credibility problem with Swift Boat Veterans For Truth, morphed into other liberal- or benign-looking identities (Google Scott Swett for a list) using, you guessed it, cybercamo. By repeating their messages in many forums, under many names, and using all the tricks that money can buy, the technique allows them to appear larger and more accepted than they are.

A strange and wonderful irony is that the more the NSSV attempts to destroy the image of VVAW, the more they actually enhance and reinforce it. (See Vietnam Veterans Legacy Foundation.) There are many examples that highlight the basic philosophical differences between veterans organizations like VVAW (powered by objective truth) and the NSSVs (funded by Big Money). At the very best, these vets are uninformed, automaton, self-proclaimed patriots. At the very worst, they are the paid henchmen of the Bush Administration, motivated by personal and political gain, to rewrite a history that was never theirs to rewrite.

Button up, I say. We're coming. And we've always known exactly Who's Who!

Semper Fi,
Willie Hager

Saturday, September 16, 2006


This is an article by Dana Stevens published online at It is a review of "The Ground Truth," a movie by Patricia Foulkrod.

PERMISSION TO SPEAK FREELY: The Ground Truth is a vital debriefing about Iraq.

With the record-setting exception of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004), documentaries about the Iraq war have performed dismally at the box office. Confronting the chaos and violence in Iraq, or the anguish of maimed young men and women returning stateside, is nobody's idea of a fun date at the multiplex. But viewer apathy can't be the only factor in the failure of Iraq documentaries to capture an audience. However hard-hitting and intelligent, many documentaries about the war still tend to feel like glorified versions of news segments you might catch flipping channels at home. An activist talking head critiques the administration's reasons for going to war. A Pentagon talking head presents the opposing view. Stock shots of jarheads in dusty vehicles and weeping wives at military funerals follow, leaving the viewer feeling, at best, sorrowful but vaguely edified: War is hell, and there's not a hell of a lot you can do about it.

The Ground Truth (Focus Features), Patricia Foulkrod's wrenching new documentary about returning veterans, may not single-handedly reverse the trend of ignoring Iraq docs in theatrical release, but it should. Though many of her subjects have missing limbs or burned and disfigured faces, Foulkrod chooses to focus less on the war's physical damage than on its psychological devastation. One after another, her subjects, mainly men and women in their early 20s, return to the strange fact of what war is: the organized mass destruction of one group of human beings by another. Recruited into the Army by visions of honor and promises of college tuition (and in one reservist's case, by a false guarantee that, if he enlisted, he could remain stateside), many of these young people failed at first to realize this simple truth.

David Grossman, a retired Army officer and the author of a book called On Killing, talks about the innate human resistance to killing one's own kind, and the little-discussed military training techniques used to overcome it. There are images from the target-training software used by the military, in which terrorists are picked off like villains in a video game. Some home video shot by a soldier during basic training recalls Vincent D'Onofrio's ordeal in Full Metal Jacket: A trainee repeatedly bayonets a foam-stuffed dummy mockup of the enemy as his sergeant encourages him to scream "Kill! Kill!" A jogging cadence cited separately by several Marines describes the thrill of slaughtering a schoolyard full of Muslim children.

Once the soldiers reach Iraq, the stories get much worse: A soldier remembers shooting a woman he took for a suicide bomber; investigating the body, he found a white flag in her purse. Another recalls telling his commander, "Today's been a bad day, sir. We killed a lot of innocent civilians," only to be contradicted: "No, today was a good day." As they recount these and other horrors, the vets seem to be neither glazed-eyed burnouts nor angry protesters; they're just confused and guilty young people, several of them clinically depressed, at least one contemplating suicide.

The Ground Truth lays out some statistics and facts about the war that you may not have thought or heard about, at least not in the clear-eyed way they're presented here. For example, because of improved medical equipment and treatment, more people are surviving wounds incurred in war than ever before. The upside of this development is obvious; the downside is that there are now 18,000 wounded veterans of the Iraq war. As one interviewee points out (with the hook that's replaced his right hand kept discreetly out of frame), it's all too easy to write off the wounded as lucky to be alive, even when, like him, some of them wish they weren't. The incidence of psychic damage is much harder to quantify, but even with the stigma surrounding a PTSD diagnosis, 35 percent of returning vets have sought out the military's mental health services, not always successfully. One man, complaining of recurrent guilt feelings about civilian deaths in his unit, was told by a VA official that "we don't treat conscientious objectors."

Sean Huze, an extraordinarily articulate former Marine who enlisted out of patriotism on Sept. 12, 2001, and came back from Iraq an anti-war activist and author, provides vivid testimony about what it's like to get up every day and fight a war you no longer believe in. But the film's most moving interviews may be the inarticulate ones. Robert Acosta, who enlisted to escape his dead-end life in an L.A. ghetto and came back with a missing hand, shattered legs, and a permanently injured spine, tries and fails to find words for his experience in Iraq: "Inside, I have a lot of … I don't know what it is, I just have a lot of it." After seeing The Ground Truth, so will you.

Friday, September 08, 2006



I have heard all my life that “Truth, as well as Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder”. A sentiment that I believe to be true, and one that I happen to subscribe to. So, it follows that a large percent of what people see, they believe. This observation points out to me that it is therefore very important to “see” things with an empirical and unwavering criterion in order to define and to discern the real Truth of a situation when confronted with contradictions.
I, along with thousands of others I am sure, received the following “Call to Action” on an fw: of an fw: of an fw: E-mail…well, you know what I mean. Anyway, it proposes a political action that, in my opinion, is fraught with contradictions, yet compelling in principle. Well here, see for yourself…

Contributed by Working Assets:

On September 10th and 11th, ABC -- which is owned by Disney -- is planning to air a "docu-drama" called "Path to 9/11," which is being billed as "an objective telling of the events of 9/11." In fact, the film was written by an unabashed conservative who twists the facts to blame President Clinton.

In fact, the list of counterterrorism initiatives undertaken by the Clinton administration is lengthy and comprehensive. Regrettably, the record shows that most of these efforts were watered down or abandoned by the Bush administration when they came into office. History will also record that President Bush was the one who received -- and while on vacation, chose to ignore -- a Presidential Daily Briefing on August 6, 2001 entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in US."

ABC's new six-hour film was apparently screened in advance only to conservative bloggers and journalists -- and received extensive praise from none other than Rush Limbaugh. ABC is advertising the film as being "based on the 9/11 Commission report" -- yet also admits that it's a "docu-drama," in which writers and producers are free to invent and distort facts. Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke has already completely refuted one of the key scenes of the movie.

It's simply stunning to think that as this fall's election approaches, a major television network would devote six hours of prime-time programming to air such a slanted and inaccurate program. There is simply no way that a conservative writer, with an anti-Clinton axe to grind, should be allowed to use public airwaves to broadcast a gross distortion of the truth -- especially on the anniversary of the worst day in our history.

Call to action:
Send a message to ABC asking them to cancel the show.


But, after reading it over a couple of times, and thinking about it…I'm sorry...I can't help it, I gotta say it; I’m thinking that we would all find ourselves on the other side of this issue if it was the Swift Boat Vets (NSSVs) that were mounting an internet campaign to block the airing of Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 on PBS.

In my mind; it's not really a question of the spin or the veracity of the content, it's more about the ol' Freedom of Speech issue. Should anyone have the right to suppress anyone else’s right to speak freely; in this case to air on commercial airwaves what they refer to as a "Docudrama" as opposed to what we all want to call a politically corrupt Rovized Documentary? To be honest with you; it's the books that they are reading, and the movies that they are seeing; most specifically the ones that I don't know about that really scare me. If you don't want the kids to see it, change the channel.

Semper Fi!

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Submitted by Diane Ford Wood

"In the first place, we know of individuals who are – or have been – spontaneous, whose thinking, feeling, and acting were the expression of their selves and not of an automaton.

These individuals are mostly known to us as artists...

The position of the artist is vulnerable, though, for it is really only the successful artist whose individuality or spontaneity is respected; if he does not succeed in selling the art, he remains to his contemporaries a crank, a "neurotic."

The artist in this matter is in a similar position to that of the revolutionary throughout history. The successful revolutionary is a statesman, the unsuccessful one, a criminal."

This quote, which I just dug up for myself after 30 years, is from the book "Escape from Freedom" written in 1941 by Eric Fromm. It has always hovered in the background of my life, helping me to guard against complacency in all things, even when I forgot the quote was there.

To me, it is just another humble reminder to avoid automaton complacency in my life and continue -- through art, music politics or other ways meaningful -- to speak truth to power.

Why include this photo? I am not at all sure! It was a leading, I guess.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


A New Strategy for a New Century from Cracker Swamp, Fla.

Reflecting on my recent re-awakening and re-entry into things political after a decade's hiatus from significant leadership roles in veterans' organizations, there are some conclusions about the future of the Left that I wish to share with you.

My resurrection was inspired by the 2005 release of a significant (but yet undiscovered) audiobook history of 1972 Calif. Vietnam Veterans Against the War Camouflage & Lace by Diane Ford Wood of which I am a central character; and my participation in March 2005 with other old Vietnam Veterans Against The War (VVAW) types in a face-off at Texas Tech University (TTU) , with the Swift Boat Veterans 'For Truth', moderated by Nancy Miller Saunders of VVAW.

The deeply personal "Camo & Lace", and the very public face off at TTU inspired reunions of friends, lovers, and former activists; some of whom had not spoken to or seen one another in over thirty years. From the renewed spirit and energy of those two VVAW related reunions, arose Vetspeak. A medium for Objective Political Truth, designed to honor the venerable history of VVAW and stop the Right's rewriting of VVAW's history, for their own purposes. It also inspired this Manifesto, which proposes broad strategic changes to the entire Left and Right methodologies.

But why now? After all these years?

In case you didn't notice; the Swift Boat Veterans (SBVs) acted as the Republican petard in the presidential election, mounting  527 attack campaigns on Sen. John Kerry’s character, Vietnam service, and subsequent anti-war activities with VVAW. These right wing political operatives filled the airwaves and cyberspace, and all other forms of media with their outright lies, half-truths, and distortions. Using millions in hate money that was donated by the special interest money machine, they proved the point that, as we used to say in the Old Corps; if you sling enough sh*t, some of it will stick.

Of course, Kerry’s silence on the issue was twice as loud as George W. Bush's thunderous lack of protestations to these scurrilous tactics, which hearken back to the Nixon style politics of dirty tricks, plumbers, and Watergate. But the silence of the rest of us regarding it, was indeed a true American travesty; one for which our beloved country is paying a very dear price. With these thoughts stirring my soul and stimulating my brain, here are my conclusions about how the grassroots electorate can evolve into a more powerful political force before the next elections.


We The People, are losing the reins of our government, and I believe that we have no one else to blame but ourselves. To quote the venerable Pogo, "I have met the enemy and he is us." We have been complacent with our victories from the 1970s, ending with the close of the Clintonista era of politics. However, the opposition has not slept. Tirelessly, the Far Right juggernaut and the like-minded continue their march on the Constitution; seizing the power and identity of the American People. In campaigns befitting the costs and ruthlessness of Sherman’s March On, and subsequent Siege Of Atlanta, they have a firm hold on the reins of government.

Even if you disagree with this perspective, you cannot deny that the Far Right is in control of all levels of government. The economy is a mess (no, it’s not Bill Clinton’s fault). There is a lack of medical care at all income levels (not Hillary’s fault). The educational and court systems have collapsed ( I don’t know whose fault that is). And about Iraq: Whether you are "fer it, or agin’ it"; the wheels are comin’ off and the wagon's heading downhill.

The Left was not politically outsmarted during the last election; we were politically outplayed. Sadly, the other team doesn’t have a clue about what to do with the ball, which they took for their own as a result of a few technical fouls. This is a very serious threat to Truth, Justice, and The American Way. In order to recapture our Flag and the true intent of the Constitution from the powers that be, I agree with George Lakoff ("Don't Think of an Elephant"). Lakoff propositions that we must absolutely reframe the American political argument. We must redefine for ourselves who we really are and not continue to allow those on the Right, with whom we so vehemently disagree, to orchestrate the definitions of terms relevant to this struggle.

We cannot continue to heel to the dictates of the power brokers and extreme factions of minority and special interest groups, or their spokespersons on either the Right or the Left. Neither can we heel to the Political Correctness advocates, and the exponents of white middle-class liberal guilt, to the exclusion or detriment of other American citizens. Although some civil rights' legislation rightfully furthers the intentions of The People; other legislation, actually furthers only the exclusive, political agendas favorable to the controlling elements of both the Democratic Party and the Left.

While it may be a shocking revelation that not everything labelled "Democrat" or "Left" is good, just as everything "Republican" and "Right" is not bad; I suggest that we radically change our way of thinking. I suggest these considerations with the spirit of a man who doesn't just write about what he believes; but who also acts on those beliefs, having been jailed for civil rights protests in Watts (1973), and having fought two tours of duty in Vietnam. This is the 21st century. It is time for NEW ideas, NEW ways of looking at things, and NEW leadership with the wind of the American voter in our sails.

We must no longer march lock-step to anyone’s set agenda, at the expense of our cultural or political identity as we did in 2004. At the very least, the Democratic Party itself must take a very studied, empirical look at these dynamics and change the way they do business. Without a new direction, they will be in the hurt locker in ’06 & ’08, despite the political power of Hillary Clinton as a candidate. As an organization with a limited political platform, the Democratic Party, like the Left, needs to redefine itself and what it stands for. Driven forward by antiquated and culturally unrealistic ideas, they continue to view themselves as the only solution to America's problems. They must recognize that the Party is best suited as a vehicle for progressive political thought, ideas, and candidates, and not as a "be-all, end-all" for social justice and anti-conservatism.

To stay focused on our defined mission; we must remain open to shedding allegiances with certain like-minded groups. This is especially applicable to groups whose mission may be honorable, but who in fact utilize the same despicable tactics as the SBVs. We need to ask ourselves: Are these alliances so important that we are willing to subvert our personal and political values to win their support or vote? Isn't that pandering? While closing the door may appear heartless, it is far more realistic to prioritize our missions by which brings the most good to the largest number of all of our citizens, as opposed to what brings the greatest benefit to any one economic group, ethnic group, religion or political party.

Let me tell you, My Friends, workable new ideas and humanistic concepts always earn more votes than tired, well worn ones. From whichever side of the spectrum they come, the old "Liberal Guilt" whip or "Liberal as Commie" label, are just plain tired. Exclusiveness is exclusiveness, no matter which side of the political spectrum it emanates from. (The same can be said for inclusiveness.) We must think for ourselves. We must not rely on the media and others’ definitions of us in order to truly know who we are. Most importantly; we must feel good about who we are, .and act and speak as though we know who we are, and be unafraid of being swiftboated. Which, from my perspective is both an honor, and a sign of our effectiveness. We should never be ashamed of being identified as an enemy of tyranny, or its proponents...Ever!

We must stop thinking of ourselves as Republicans or Democrats when it comes to allegiance to our country and Flag. First and foremost; we are Americans, warts and all. Whether earned, or by luck of birth; it is a privilege that requires duty to Family, Flag and Constitution. As American citizens, we have the duty and the Constitutional right to Speak Truth To Power regarding government wrong doings, and political excesses forced upon the American People. The Constitution grants this privilege without fear of swiftboating or reprisal by the powers that be. We must never again allow the forces of repression, selfishness, and greed, to redefine who we are for reasons of money or power. We must guard against this corruption of our rights by any faction, sector, interest, political party, country, or government who might choose to dictate to us who is a "good" American, and who is not.

We have the right to a free exchange of ideas and Objective Truth, regarding the thoughts and deeds of our elected government. The Constitution placed these rights in the hands, and in the hearts and minds of the American People via the electoral process. It is not vested in the hands or coffers of 527s and political special interest groups, nor the smoke and mirrors of the media manipulated by political candidates with fully loaded war chests. Money should not determine the criteria for gaining our votes on issues that directly effect our personal daily lives, and the very future of this beautiful country.

If we can make these changes, I believe we will also win the struggle for the hearts and minds of the undecided voters, which is crucial to our political future as we rally for the march into the 21st century. We do this by moving beyond the labels, boundaries, as well as divisions of political parties, religion, race, economic status, swing states, red states, or blue states, and appealing to these voters instead, as Fellow Americans. We must enlighten and inform voters with Objective Truth, as we did at the 5th Triennial Vietnam Symposium at Texas Tech University at 1030 hours on March 10th, 2005-- in the face of a massive machine that is working 24/7 full-tilt boogie to distort, change, and even lie about the Truth for reasons of money or power.

Therefore, in the spirit of redefinition of person and purpose; I propose that we:
  • Step out of the debate regarding whether we are "Liberals" and therefore somehow unworthy;
  • Think of ourselves as "Free Thinking American Citizens" with a voice and a part to play in our destiny as defined in the Constitution;
  • Remain optimistic (and not be defensive) regarding our personal philosophies and political beliefs;
  • Be well read and well versed, articulate, and assertive in our subscription to our philosophies and beliefs and principled in our practice of them; and respectful of our peers in our delivery of them;
  • Refuse to be subservient to any person, political party, or political philosophy, except to our Great Democracy as defined in the Constitution; and finally that we:
  • Be unafraid to say out loud who we are: "Proud Patriots Speaking Truth To Power."

COMMUNISM & VVAW: Letter to a Misguided Soul by Willie Hager

The following article was written in response to a blog entry implying that VVAW of "The Day" was used by the Communist party to further their story...
You poor misguided soul, Roysoldboy. Cheer up, you are not alone. Help is coming to all who have bought in to this orchestrated re-write of Objective History and distortion of Objective Truth, something my studies, research, and life experience reveal to me that the Commies in question call "Revisionism".

But no matter who calls it what, revisionism is what it is. The antithesis to this revisionist history and distorted political truths is coming in the form of a new consciousness (well, not really new; but revisited in new terms), and a new way of looking at politics in America. How politics have evolved into the sorry state -- and how Neocons are "re-framing" the political argument in America -- is addressed in the NY Times best seller by George Lakoff, Don't Think Of An Elephant, published by Chelsea Green Press.

And, from the looks of your comments, you can use a good read.

In the spirit of Speaking Truth To Power and providing documented, firsthand Objective Truth to the American people, I, Peacevet and others who have lived and affected this period of history, have joined together to find, record, and debate Objective Political Truth. We oppose the lies, distortions, and sleaze of the Not-So-Swift-Vets and other low-life minions and convicted felons who act as spokespersons and operatives of the current Neocon (way right wing) political machine. Many Neocons are left over from the Nixon creature's disgraceful administration such as G. Gordon (CIA Clown) Liddy, Chuck (Preacher) Colson, Bernard (Guns) Barker (there are too many to include here, but I think you get the point). Anyone suffocating in the current political environment is invited to respond here.

So, Roysoldboy, today at this site and opportunity, I am here to help you get back on the track to the real Truth of the VVAW/Commie question. I am also here to reinforce Peacevet, whom you guys have been working over pretty good in your blogs. Peacevet, being a combat veteran (I've seen the proof) armed with firsthand knowledge of the facts and real life experience alluded to in this discussion, is holding his own. But then, you guys don't bring much to the table outside of secondhand slogans and rhetoric passed down from undocumented sources and political operatives.

Your naive perspective on the world is fueled by such intellectual giants as Rush Limbaugh (someone actually proud to be known as a "Dittohead"), as opposed to empirically thinking open-minded people who desire facts before speaking out on issues that effect the quality of life of other people. People like Limbaugh are making millions of dollars and seizing the Constitution, even as we debate here. PEACEVET is eliciting acknowledgements, completely contrary to your early-on stated "facts," regarding these matters. This indicates that there is hope for you, my friend.

I will address the most inflammatory paragraph of your posts, a paragraph filled with lies that I have some extensive personal knowledge and experience about. You wrote:

"I will have to tell you that I have studied the methods of the Communist party USA and that I am sure that they did use VVAW to further their story. The fact that you were a Texas wheel in the group and never saw a Communist means nothing to me. What about the other 50 states? Do you feel the same about the POW - MIAs that you feel about those of us who accuse your organization of playing with the Communists? Let me know how you feel about them."

The first thing is to establish credits and credentials. You mention that you have studied the "methods" of the CPUSA. May I ask for: 1) a reference for those "studies," 2) where they took place, 3) who acted as your mentor or teacher on these matters, and 4) what were their credentials? 'Cause I gotta tell you; your postulations point to a heavy dose of the McCarthy Hearings, and "I Led Three Lives", starring Richard Carlson, a '50s vintage TV show "documenting" the life of an ordinary citizen who infiltrates the CPUSA on behalf of the FBI. They also perhaps point to a lot of Rush and G. Gordon radio rabblerousing as well.

I, on the other hand, have seen Communists, (or "perceived" Communists), real close up -- both in war and here at home.

"Communists" At War

In war, as a U.S. Marine Corps, two tour veteran of Vietnam (1965-1966 & 1968), I certainly killed my share of those identified as "Communists," and gladly did so for Flag and Country. "Killing Commies For Christ", we used to call it. The horror in that statement is that everyone that we killed was not a "Communist" as described by the administrations of the time. They were people fighting for independence from foreign governments and influences. With a history of resistance, the Vietnamese had been fighting steadily for 27 years by the time we got there. They fought and defeated the Chinese (a couple of times), the French, and finally (in spite of all our efforts on the battlefield), the US (who actually defeated themselves). The Vietnamese fought for the right to self determination at individual and governmental levels.

Originally we were their allies in this effort, instrumental in bringing about the Geneva Accords following the fall of the French. Shortly thereafter, we violated this alliance using the trumped up (and politically expedient) Gulf Of Tonkin incident and Resolution. We made war on Communism under the guise of the Domino Theory of containment (see, scholarly studies that document my statements. Scroll down on the site for the VVAW and Swifties panels.)

"Communists" at Home

At home, through personal antiwar activities, I came to know the CPUSA, campus/intellectual Commies (students and college professors) and political activists (usually unwitting operatives of the FBI COINTEL Program). This led me to becoming VVAW Regional Coordinator for California/Nevada from 1972 to 1974 with offices in Los Angeles.

And yes, ROYOLDSBOY, unlike in Tejas, there were Vietnam veterans who professed Marxist and Maoist doctrines popular on the campuses at that time, especially in the major cities of Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. For several years, we battled to keep them from re-writing the activist Vietnam Veterans' mission of stopping the war in Vietnam to their agenda of violent revolution in the streets of America. At that time in the movement, these were perceived to be related issues.

Since the Peace Movement really got started on campuses, it is not surprising that there were indeed what you and your friends call "Communists" in the Movement. Operatives/minions of strategic Far Right initiatives often label anyone who disagrees with them "Card-carrying Communists," hoping to color their political enemies as unworthy of consideration.

Not once did, ROYOLDSBOY, did I ever see a "card" like not. Nor am I sure who might have been "card carrying" and who was not. Either way; it did not seem relevant. If someone, in fact, chose to be a Communist in America, that was a Constitutionally-protected right, however unpopular it was among many blue collar workers and the middle class at the time. The same Constitution I served and protected for nearly ten years as a US Marine, my father served as an Army medic in World War II. Mortally wounded at Normandy on 6June1944, my dad now lies in a US cemetery in St. James, France.

Later, the basic "Constitutional Right" would be reinforced with the downfall of the little fascist "Tailgunner Joe," aka Senator Joe McCarthy. A shallow human being with a political bent that required hate-filled rhetoric, name calling and personal assassination, McCarthy's heavy boot heels attempted to destroy the Constitution, Truth and History for personal, capital and political gain.

You seem to have a real strange criteria for role models, ROYOLDSBOY.

You rhetorically chastised PEACEVET for not being aware of Communists or associates (or as Tailgunner called them, "Fellowtravellers") within VVAW. You even conceded that since PEACEVET worked in Texas, that fact might be plausible -- but his experience meant nothing to you. So, which way is it gonna be ROYSOLDBOY? It meant enough to you that PEACEVET or others in VVAW might be Commies or sympathizers to pour out your venom, misinformation, disinformation and speculation to the world via the Internet under the guise of Political Truth. Unsupported lies like that can damage others' humanistic causes and reputations. Yet, when proven wrong and presented with personal firsthand knowledge of events and documentable facts; it means "nothing" to you?

As you have already read, I am a combat veteran of Vietnam, and served as the California/Nevada Regional Coordinator of VVAW. During my tenure, I was wrongly accused of being a Communist by political foes, as well as an FBI operative by California Movement Commies. It is sad to note that sometimes the Far Right and the Far Left often bump ideologically into one another as they walk, hand and hand in the dark, attempting to influence the hearts and minds of freedom-loving, free-thinking American Patriots.

And as to your question regarding the leadership of the rest of the VVAW chapters in "50 states," I am glad to be of service! VVAW was not organized by states, as you suggested, it was organized into 28 regions, most led by Regional Coordinators I was personally familiar with, including some of the coordinators listed below:

Scott Camil (Florida/Georgia)
* Combat Marine, veteran of Vietnam
* Proven in Federal Court (check court documents, Dittoheads) during the Gainesville 8 Conspiracy trial not to have "Communist affiliations."
* Found not guilty of all charges in that farcical and unsuccessful endeavor by Guy Goodwin, Special Prosecutor & Nixon lackey, to break the back of the VVAW. It only strengthened our already steely resolve to end the war, and bring down the Nixon gang.
* Scott was and is no Communist. He is a patriot.

John Kniffen (Texas)

* Regional Coordinator subsequent to PEACEVET's tenure
* Combat Marine, veteran of Vietnam
* Acquitted of all charges, allegations and Communist affiliations as a defendant in the Gainesville 8 Conspiracy trial.
* Recently succumbed to his battle with cancer (as though he had not had enough s*** to deal with in life) as a result of his love and never ending struggle for Freedom and Democracy.
* John was no Communist. He was a true American patriot. All of us whom he touched and served with miss him terribly.

Gunny John Musgrave (Kansas)

*Combat Marine veteran...personal friend.
*Leader of men, champion of the underdog, soft-spoken, strong-fisted, smart, funny and politically astute. Another American Patriot.
*Commie, my ass!

John Kerry (New England)
* US Naval Officer, Swift Boat commander and combat Veteran
* US Senator and recent Democratic candidate for President of the United States
* Chairman of the Committee that brought the Nixon gang's crimes on POW issues to light, ensuring that POWs and MIAs would not be left behind and unaccounted for, as Nixon and Kissinger had done in Vietnam. Communist propaganda? Nope. You can read it in the Congressional Record.
* A true American patriot.

In closing, ROYSOLDBOY, I can state unequivocally from personal experience and documented firsthand research, that the leadership of VVAW were not Commies, but often struggled with attempts by Commies and others to co-opt VVAW's massive public appeal -- the same appeal that resulted in the downfall of the Nixon administration's war efforts in Vietnam. The VVAW National Steering Committee, made up of these 28 Regional Coordinators, met quarterly, voted on and unanimously approved several position papers disassociating itself with the Communist movement and associated front organizations.

As a final irony, you can find documentation for much that I have written here at under the "Complete VVAW FBI Files." This is the site put together by Scott Swett, a Not-So-Swift lackey webmaster designed to bash John Kerry and VVAW during the recent presidential election. The Winter Soldier name derives from the title added by Commies to VVAW in the closing days of the Vietnam War. This occurred after the battle to end the war had been won, and when most major VVAW patriots had gone on to other venues in life. How crazy is it that those virulent anti-commies of the Not-So-Swift variety would choose a documentable Communist banner to name their website? Go figure!

Semper Fi!
Willie Hager

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


VETERANS FIGHTING VETERANS: Is It Time to Remember Ourselves? by Calixto Cabrera

In yet another unfortunate salvo fired by veterans against veterans, the Vietnam Veteran Legacy Foundation "VVLF" (along with Red, White and Blue Productions and Vietnam veteran Carlton Sherwood) have sued John Kerry and his 2004 Pennsylvania campaign manager Tony Podesta over the film Stolen Honor. The Left had already fired the first salvo a few weeks prior. Kenneth Campbell and Jon Bjornson, long-time antiwar activists and members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), alleged that Sherwood, VVLF and Newsmax defamed them in the documentary.

I'm not sure what to make of this mess, that is to say veterans fighting veterans. When I was in Vietnam (either tour), we moved Heaven and Earth to save any soldier whose unit was pinned down or in danger of being overrun. For me, the choice was success or to die trying. There was no compromise. This is not macho bravado, but a deep-felt conviction that we don't abandon our own. That's what I was taught in the Marine Corps and that is what I took to heart. When CUPP 3 (Combined Unit Pacification Program) was pinned down by enemy mortars, when a PF platoon (Popular Forces or militia) were pinned down by small arms fire, we were there. This is historical fact, not bravado; deeds not hollow words.

My eyes moisten when I read about lawsuits like these, and remember what all of us would have given to save each other. But now that we are back in "The World," we call each other liars, traitors, communist, fascist, pigs, lackeys, political puppets, cronies and more. We demean ourselves when we participate in this name-calling and endless cycle of hate. Let me be clear: We don't have to agree with each other. We all fought for the right to freely express our feelings and beliefs. But when we interact, we should remember that the man or woman who opposes us now, is the same man or woman who watched our backs in Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.

I believe that the Swift Boat Vets have the same needs as mine:

* Acknowledgement that I participated in events I have a hard time imagining even today;

* Respect for my service to my country, whether or not you agree with my politics;

* Not to be disparaged because I fought that war for love of Country and family and saw it as my patriotic duty.

* To communicate in a manner that allows me to feel true to myself when the conversation is said and done, even if I don't convince anyone of anything.

With the Stolen Honor lawsuits, I see a chance to educate people not just about the Vietnam War or even the Iraqi War, but about War itself. The consciousness of this nation has already changed when it comes to the government sending our troops to foreign lands. We now take a longer, harder look at the reasons that a president may have for committing our troops to war.

The central issue in these lawsuits is whether Kerry lied or exaggerated the facts about what happened in Vietnam. Did American "troops" commit wide scale war crimes or not?

I cannot speak for all troops, but I can speak for myself as a former member of Lima Company Third Battalion 5th Marine regiment 1st Marine Division (1966 and 1967) and Alpha Co. 1st Battalion 7th Marines Regiment 1st Marine Division(1969-1970). I neither take pride nor will I cower from this answer:

From firsthand experience, my answer is yes. I'll say it again, yes.

* Burning Villages: We burned villages. Lima 3/5 loved to burn villages, a very common practice in Vietnam. In fact, I did not know that this was considered a war crime until last year. These actions were common knowledge all the way through the Battalion Commander, and I'm sure, higher up than that.

* Killing Enemy Wounded: I personally killed enemy wounded that I came upon in both tours because I thought that they may have a grenade on them.

* Desecrating Bodies: I saw Marines desecrate bodies by emptying whole clips of M14 or M16 bullets in to their bodies, never checking to see if they were still alive or not.

* Killing Animals: We killed the animals in villages that we identified as VC villages.

* Neglect and Physical Assaults of Prisoners: We physically assaulted prisoners in our possession. A VC suspect on a firebase was left so long in the sun without water that he drank his own urine.

* Physical Assaults on Children: A young Vietnamese boy about eight years old had a piece of his leg missing the size of my fist.No one stopped to render aid. (After all, it was our fire that injured him.) If this isn't a war crime, then it should be. We booby trapped a bunch of canisters of assorted ammunitions and lit the fuse that was long enough to give us about thirty seconds to get out of the area.As we walked away at a rapid pace about ten children all under eleven years old converged on the canisters, we kept walking and said nothing. Fortunately, one of them saw the fuse burning and they ran away. I don't know how many made it because we didn't look back after the explosion.

During my second tour of Vietnam, I was involved in more or less the same thing. This included the murder of a young Vietnamese woman (about 18 years old) one of my
team leaders, who was pulling her by her hair. She was carrying a baby in her arms and yelling hysterically. He got tired of pulling her and dealing with her resistance, so he released her hair and shot her dead on the spot. She was a good mother to the end. When she dropped, she made sure that the baby landed on her chest and was not hurt. What stands out the most from this murder was that when she fell dead, her black pajama top opened, exposing her breast. The baby (about 1 year old) then tried to suckle her breast.
Even after all I had seen and done, this shocked me to the core.

Later, when our unit returned to the world, the same team leader confessed to me that he and two other Marines raped a 70-year old Mama-san while I was away on R&R. Again I was shocked. Why didn't I turn this guy in?I still ask myself this question to this day, but at the time these were my reasons: First of all, he was one of my best friends in the unit. Secondly, Marines have a "green code," similar to the police "blue code," that you don't turn in your own no matter what. Thirdly, I didn't even record these incidents in my diary. The William Calley, Mai Lai mass murder thing was still a hot political issue. When all this happened, I was the senior man on the spot. We were still in a "hot zone" and I had
many other priorities.

The Swift Vets (and the Right in general) would say that these things just didn't happen. They would say that I exaggerate because I hate America. That I want to tear down America, or that I am out to defame the military and/or the government. Nothing can be further from the truth.

And the fight – veteran against veteran – begins.

I have been telling these same stories since I returned from Vietnam. At first, it was
to come to grips with what I had done: I simply could not believe that I shot wounded soldiers multiple times. When the truth finally set in, I was outraged at my conduct and deeply sick in my heart. I was furious with God for allowing me to commit these outrages against humanity.I had to find an enemy other than myself to blame for what I did. For a time, I chose the government, the police and the military. The flag and patriotism became hollow words and symbols to a heart bleeding profusely from psychological wounds. I was too much of a coward to commit suicide. The Marine Corps response to my two tours was in Vietnam? Three Purple Hearts, One Bronze Star, One Silver Star.

That was then and this is now.I have traveled a long road. I have matured. I have even forgiven myself for what I did. I no longer blame God, country or government; I have brought the responsibility and the forgiveness home to me. I write this story now – not out of vindictiveness, malice or hate – but to tell the American people that what Senator Kerry testified to were same things that I witnessed and participated in.

I do not know why the Swift Vets continue to say that these events are untrue, did not occur and were not widespread. Truth knows no political boundaries, and a cover up or denial will not set us free. Lying about the truth will not serve our nation, the military, my unit, or history. Yes, there are those who did not cross the line. I admire and salute any combat veteran that kept his or her integrity in such an extreme situation.

But I also must add my voice to the record: There are many of us who did commit war
crimes with the full knowledge, approval and even under the direction of our superiors. I ask that you respect this truth without impugning my patriotism, military record or integrity, just as I continue to honor yours.

To all American service personnel and veterans: Thank you for your service.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


This is one of five papers presented in person at Texas Tech University in March 2005 by Nancy Miller Saunders, Gerald Nicosia, Alex Primm, Terry DuBose and Willie Hager -- all early members/supporters of Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). The unedited video of this face off with the Swift Boat Veterans 'For Truth' can be viewed for free at the TTU website. Click the link at the end of this article to view the videos.


In 1971, the year that will figure so prominently in today’s presentations and discussions, I was 29 years old. I had served in Vietnam for two tours, totaling 21 months. My tours spanned the years 1965 thru 1968. I had been a United States Marine, Sgt. E-5. During my two tours I served as a Combat Engineer Team Leader and as a Helicopter Support Team Leader in multiple combat operations in the field in South Vietnam…specifically in I Corps…the Northernmost Military Region, which bordered the DMZ with North Vietnam. As Combat Engineers and Helicopter Support Teams, we were attached out in four person teams to the various Marine Regiments and Battalions and Companies for support for their combat operations. Therefore, we were assigned to and worked with Marine units of all sizes and from all Divisions; the 1st, 3d, and 5th Marine Divisions who were deployed in RVN at the time. In this capacity, we were exposed to the many fighting philosophies of these units, which were very diversified. In a nutshell; in our capacity, we saw it all.

I had seen enough by 1 March 1969, after a Marine Corps career spanning 10 years. I was decorated for my services in combat, and was Honorably Discharged as a Sgt. E-5 from the United States Marine Corps. Two years later, in 1971, I was a married to a beautiful woman, going to Saddleback College, in Mission Viejo, Ca, on the GI Bill (such as it was), surfing, and trying to put my experiences in Vietnam and the Marine Corps and all of the turmoil that thinking about it brought to me out of my mind. I was doing great at college and having a large time leading an almost dreamlike life, why sweat it, right?

Then one day, I saw a newspaper article on the inside pages of a newspaper that had a photo of a Marine hunkered down and firing his M-16 over a berm in a place called Go Noi Island, RVN. I forget the newspaper or the title of the article, or the exact date; but I sure didn’t forget the image of that Marine fighting on Go Noi Island. I had been there, two years previously. It all came flashing back to me; in the late summer of 1968; I was attached (USMC calls it TAD) out to successive units rotating on and off Go Noi Island, RVN, without myself having rotated out of the field for several of those unit rotations. Until one day, word came out to us in the field; the 27th Marine Regt, whom I had come over with in 5th Shore Party, from Kanehoe Bay, Hi, was being rotated out of Vietnam, along with the Army’s 82d Airborne Division, this withdrawal was scheduled for September of 1968. Now, here it was, two years later; and this Marine in this photo was still engaged with the enemy on Go Noi Island…just as I had been for so many weeks during that final in-country Operation. That was just overwhelming!

And then all of the other craziness of it all came roaring back on me...I was instantly reinforced that I had done the right thing in getting out of the Marine Corps, and away from any need to have to ever return to Vietnam…at the time I left, we had already been there for four years, with no end in sight…now, seven years, and counting, later; I was being confronted with the exact same scenario, in the exact same location that I had managed to escape from in 1968, upon the withdrawal of the 27th Marine Regiment from the field of battle in Vietnam. I felt so tremendously sad for that unidentified Marine, and for all those who were still dying needlessly, without rhyme or reason, and then, suddenly; for all of us.

I take the time and the space here to give you all of this, in order to set the context of the times, and of my state of mind, and my perceptions of events yet to come. A very different perspective, and a very different truth than those wannabe Plumbers, the Swift Boat Vets For Truth AKA Vietnam Veterans For A Just Peace, circa 1971 would have you believe existed in that day regarding VVAW and the Vietnam veterans who stepped up to the plate and testified at the Winter Soldier Investigation, in Detroit in 1971, and those who symbolically tossed their medals back to the government that issued them at Operation Dewey Canyon III. Both of these 1971 “Actions” were in protest to what was becoming in all clarity, a failed US policy in Vietnam that was supported by an Administration that lied to, and misled the American people about what the reality was regarding our deployment there.

All of this is documented by actual American History and other Truths to follow… i.e. The Pentagon Papers, the Watergate hearings, and last, but not least; the ultimate fall of the Nixon Administration, under the threat of impeachment and in total disgrace. And in recent times, subsequent to the aforementioned events; the duplicity of Nixon’s war criminals in leaving American POWs behind and unaccounted for in South East Asia, at the same time telling the American people that all the POWs were already home.

These are the Truths of the times, not the swill that the Swift Boat Vets are trying to foist off on America as truth. The Swifties are quite simply an ugly and dangerous resurgence of the Nixon Doctrine On The Governing Of The American People. Apparently we didn’t get all of the cockroaches when we turned on the lights during the fight for control of America’s political system back in the ‘70s.

In the volatility of those times, it was becoming extremely difficult for many veterans to reconcile their participation in all of that purposeless killing. That and the, seemingly, never ending deaths of the American GIs who followed in their foot steps. The one’s who followed were the numbers reported each night by the Networks; “ Only 10 Americans were killed in Vietnam today”… Only 10!? How do you interpret “Only”?

This was my first introduction to Right Wing spin on the news. The sad thing is that most of the GIs that went to Vietnam prior to 1971 were unaware of the objective truth. They went armed only with their government’s lies about their pending sacrifices. It’s one thing to fight and die bravely for something you believe in, but completely another to kill and possibly die for something that nobody other than Nixon’s war criminal cabinet and advisors believed in any longer. The lid was coming off the pot, and VVAW was becoming the cook, with a very big spoon for stirring things up. This was the image that I as a veteran of that war saw; not the one that the then Veterans For A Just Peace were trying to conjure up.

In our college and surfing community in Southern California, we had constant updates from student activists, and PBS Specials, as well as through our music and the LA Free Press; the primary underground news organ of the time. It was on those pages that I first became aware of Vietnam Veterans Against The War. At that time they were using the Free Press to recruit members and to stir up interest in Vietnam Veterans joining them in Washington D.C. for an action that they were calling Dewey Canyon III, A Limited Incursion into the Congress of the US, to protest further participation in the Vietnam War by US forces. Shortly after learning of the Winter Soldier Investigation which had recently taken place in Detroit, a documentary film of the event was made available. These guys were testifying publicly to acts that all of us knew were SOP, (Standard Operating Procedure) for the day, throughout the military in Vietnam.

However, for the most part, the rest of us had never even talked to our families about these kinds of things, let alone each other. Our shame was so great, and our emotions so numbed from having been a part of all those horrible things that these guys were now telling the American people about; that we had never dared given even a small thought to sharing them with anyone.

But, here it was…cat out of the bag…more Truth to deal with…these guys were the heroes that gave many of us, through their actions in 1971, an avenue to begin healing from wounds that we didn’t even realize that we had up to that point! Furthermore they shocked America awake as to the reality of a Tour Of Duty in Vietnam. They were saying words that my heart wished that I had the courage to say. I was catching on fire!

Dewey Canyon III was all over the news while it was going on, in what was growing coverage of VVAW’s actions by all forms of media…TV put the VVAW in all of the living rooms of America at the 6:00 P.M. hour (Before Cable News). This was extremely powerful imagery that was being put in front of Americans who huddled around their TV sets by the millions every night in those days. GIs throwing their medals away?! How could this be? What are they, a bunch of Communists? They can’t really be veterans! There must be a sinister plot of violent overthrow by radical dissidents in all of this.

That was the message the Swifties AKA VVFAJP were reinforcing as far and wide as they were able to, back in 1971. Or, was it something more; was something really happening here? Was it possible that these men were really tormented heroes pouring out their souls to their countrymen, as it appeared that they were? The American people chose to believe that conclusion…embraced that image, and accepted the Truth of the Reality that these men bore as bravely as they bore their combat wounds and mental scars resulting from their service to their country in Vietnam. VVAW became a household acronym. And so, as a reward for one of the most powerful, heart rendering, and yet peaceful statements ever made protesting our participation in Vietnam; the symbolic returning of medals earned in Vietnam; the Swifties AKA VVFJP, attacked us.

However, the American people took us to their hearts. This incredibly powerful imagery was calculated to do just what it did; stop the hearts of Americans as they watched Operation Dewey Canyon III unfold on TV. They watched, transfixed, as Combat Veterans with tears in their eyes and cries of frustration on their lips symbolically tossed their awards for service and heroism back to the government and, in so doing, made all those watching the evening news believers. Winning Hearts and Minds.

For their part; the then version of what is now slickly named The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth AKA Vietnam Veterans For A Just Peace, heaped derision, disrespect and lies about these men’s service to their country, and on their actions protesting further service by anybody on that failed mission. A shameful practice that continues to this day. Only now, their venom is primarily being directed at our younger Brothers and Sisters who are today Speaking Truth To Power, as we did back in The Day, the IVAW.

I know first-hand about the true character of the Winter Soldier Investigation Veterans, and of their claims. Theirs, and hundreds of other Vietnam Veterans who were there on the Mall in 1971 for Dewey Canyon III to Speak Truth To Power, and to the American People, about the real nature of their service to their country. I know this as I was to meet and come to know most of them personally over the next few years as I traveled the US on VVAW business…and I assure you that it was Courageous and Honorable service.

These VVAW types were dedicated to bringing about the 10 Objectives of VVAW, not assassination plots and anti-government conspiracies, as the Swifts’ AKA VVFAJP propaganda would have you believe. The forces of evil, in this case, are known under the modern day guise of Swift Boat Veterans For Truth. Who attempted then, and still to this day attempt to portray the symbolic Dewey Canyon III medal return action as a contrived left wing political plot to overthrow the legitimate government by a bunch of non-combat veterans and wannabes.

Wrong! The majority of the news watchers among the American people of the day rightly figured it out that; if the vets who had fought and managed to return from this war were there in Washington, D.C. for this, and are making this kind of statement in front of the world, there must be something to it.

It was unprecedented that American fighting men would return from a war and speak out so passionately and poignantly against America’s continued participation in that same war. It is still some of the most powerful and defining imagery in American history. The Swifts, on the other hand, in 1971, were basically unknown to the majority of the masses, and remained that way right up until the recent John Kerry Presidential election campaign. They once again reared their ugly heads and showed their black hearts.

Other than one subsequent debate where their “leader”, then and now; John O’Neill, was humiliated by John Kerry, and drowned in his own rhetoric on ABC's special June 30, 1971 broadcast of The Dick Cavett Show, they generated very little public interest in their Nixononian like postulations. They were not heard from in any kind of a meaningful way again until the recent Presidential election, where they once again fired up the hate machine, and again took up their assault on VVAW and John Kerry. They even had a new and timely name; The Swift Boat Veterans For Truth. The right wing money poured into their coffers, and they launched their campaign to sabotage the Presidential campaign of past VVAW leader and spokesman, Senator John Kerry.

They had curried favor with the Money Minions of the Right, with their pathetic attempts, way back in 1971, to derail the VVAW onslaught of those times. The 2004 election was pay-off time for them. They were given millions in financing, as well as free political license to perform character assassination on the Democratic nominee, Senator John Kerry.

The saddest part, this time around, was that John Kerry gave them a by. Americans scratched their heads and wondered why he didn’t respond; Could the Swift Boat vets be right they wondered, as Kerry failed to respond? Could these charges be true; why doesn’t he speak up? This one billion decibel silence on the matter by the Kerry camp empowered the Swifties, and fattened their war chest. And, most importantly today; it is the reason that this panel appears before you… it stops here; these thugs will not intimidate us, and they will not be allowed to dishonor our service, our politics or our heroes, ever again. Not without direct response from those who know, and have lived the Truth that these guys so badly distort for personal political and financial gain…today is the beginning of the end for these thugs and their Brown Shirt tactics.

John Kerry gained national prominence at Dewey Canyon III, when his countenance appeared on PBS TV at the Congressional hearings where he made the famous “ Last Man To Die Speech”. John was not speaking for himself, as the Swifties would have you believe. He was speaking as the selected representative of the thousands of VVAW Veterans who had descended on Washington D.C. for Dewey Canyon III, and said so right at the opening of his presentation… So, that was the VVAW Reality of the time, not the image that the Vietnam Veterans For A Just Peace AKA Swift Boat Veterans For Truth were trying to conjure up for their personal and political gain. That was the Reality of VVAW in 1971; not the lies and half truths of the politically opportunistic Vietnam Veterans For A Just Peace, who are once again wheeling out the old act, directed now at AARP; our parents and Grandparents…and it was a very powerful Reality, indeed. It was a compelling reality that was fueled with the fires of the souls of thousands of America’s best.

Winter Soldier Investigation, Operation Dewy Canyon III, and John Kerry’s soul wrenching speech in Congress was the VVAW that thousands of us Vietnam Veterans saw and knew in 1971…the Call that we answered. That Reality was the reality that America in general saw and knew to be VVAW. It was that reality that they responded to in their enthusiastic support of our always non-violent actions. Not the sordid and seedy surreal dime store novel image of wild and dangerous men plotting, and trying to hatch schemes of violent overthrow of our government, and assassination of our elected officials that the Swifts would have America believe to be the case.

That Reality was perceived and acted on by the majority of the real Combat Veterans of VVAW as a patriotic undertaking. Many forces tried to co-opt our image, and our military organizational skills, and what we perceived as our national mandate…we were infiltrated by the FBI and the communists, and both were very challenging to our efforts; but, like the good combat soldiers that we were; through it all, we never lost site of the objective, and we never faltered till we recaptured the American Flag from the Nixon administration, and brought America’s interest in involvement in a continuing war in Vietnam to an end.

Many of us will be paying the price, and bearing the personal scars for that commitment for the remainder of our lives; but it was a good thing…not the swill that the Swift Boat Vets spew in the form of snippets and half truths, self righteously assassinating people’s character and belittling their service to their country…damning them for exercising the basic American rights of freedom of thought, and freedom of speech. Values that they had shed blood for…theirs, and that of the enemy forces in the field in Vietnam.

Every time I get an image of the VVAW that I knew and participated in; my heart swells with the pride of having been a part of their Reality. On the other hand, speaking of images and reality; every time I think of the Swifties, I get images of Nixon and Jack-Boots. Beware, America; think for yourselves; don’t allow the forces of evil do your thinking and analysis of events for you. We fought and died in Vietnam, and later struggled to bring down a corrupt and evil Administration in order that you should be able vote your heart and your conscious, not the party line. That is the Reality of VVAW Vs The Swift Boats For Truth, and their pathetic and cruel manipulation thereof for personal and political gain. Truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and in the hearts of those who have lived it.

To view the video of this presentation, click here link and scroll down to Saturday, March 19, 2005, 10:30 A.M.