Thursday, March 20, 2008

Winter Soldiers Speaking Truth To Power

The Whole World Is Watching... Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan


Billy X. Curmano

Billy X. is a contributor who attended WS: Iraq & Afghanistan as part of our 12 person contingent of contributors and support personnel who attended this historically epic in order to cover it for VetSpeak, and also to serve as VVAW front gate security for the event.

I recently returned from the Iraq veterans Against the War (IVAW) Winter Soldier Iraq Afghanistan Testimonies (March 13-16) at the National Labor College near Washington D.C.

Because of my role on security, I could not attend all of the sessions. However, I was most impressed with the overall professionalism and dedication for the event. Our security team worked closely with the Labor College Security and Maryland Police to assure a safe and peaceful 4 days. Counter demonstrators and crazies were kept well away.

One disruptor with false credentials was able to utter only one sentence before being carried out and turned over to the police. Eyewitnesses said he was out in about 8 seconds. A couple of journalists with a disruptive style were escorted out. I personally was able to politely turn away a gentleman wanting to expose the KGB brain probes installed in Brittney Spears and George W. Bush. The more obnoxious and well financed Gathering of Eagles had made threats and promised hundreds of counter-demonstrators. In reality, they couldn't even fill their bus. Their SUV and a few of their bolder followers were turned away at the main gate.

Inside, veterans of the occupation testified to what they had witnessed. A special IVAW teamed screened all testifiers for authenticity and proof of service. Health care providers, counselors and lawyers were on hand to ease the testifiers through their often highly emotional state. Another level of bonding with peers, older combat vets, peace activists and, of course, Resistance the therapy dog also helped keep Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at bay. Unfortunately, as a Vietnam Veteran that has also testified to the barbaric culture of war, I know that their stress has not been exorcised.

As soldiers, we sign an oath to protect the constitution of the United States from all its enemies - not to follow blindly behind the president. The current administration has taken more liberties with this document than any in recent memory. Their policies have created a freshly disillusioned generation. Wars built on lies cause patriotic young people to question authority. Bonding together, they create their own new and vibrant culture with new music, art, films, books and poetry. Pay attention - Don't miss out.

My biggest regret while working the historic event was knowing much of the American media would ignore these brave young men and women. Film makers and news outlets from around the globe were there. The whole world was watching. The London Times covered it, but where was the New York Times? If you are a news outlet, please help America take our blinders off.

Supporting the troops is not driving around in an SUV with a magnetic yellow ribbon. It's listening to their concerns and acting upon them. It is still possible to view streamed video and hear testimonies on the web through Audio has been cataloged and archived by KPFA Radio at

Peace Out…