Winter Soldier 2008: Who Supports the Troops?
If I were a far better writer, I might -- might -- be able to convey the intensity of these Winter Soldier hearings.
On the way in were a few dozen right-wing protesters organized by the "Gathering of Eagles" -- a spin-off from the "Vietnam Vets for Truth" started during the 2004 campaign to go after Kerry. I've seen them at antiwar protests, and what struck me was that their messages were unchanged -- 'support the troops.' The concept that those giving testimony inside were the troops -- several with chests weighed down with decorations and metals -- was the definition of cognitive dissonance.
There was a heavy police presence surrounding the site of the hearings -- the campus of a local college in Silver Springs, Maryland. Snipers watched from rooftops, a mobile command post was set up and cops outnumbered protesters 2-1.
The panels were heart-breaking and gut-wrenching. Many of these vets are so young, and yet they've seen more than most of us can imagine. We talk about what the military is doing in our names, but to hear from people who were there doing it themselves, is something quite different. They talked about getting their first "kill," of having no clue what the mission was, of being in a clusterfuck of unbelieveable scope.