Thursday, January 10, 2008

Wanted: Bloggers, especially Military

One of the amazing things about the internet is the changes it offers. One of these is the new media, the blogosphere. Able to be more politically opinionated and more personal at the same time, answerable to no editor, they can be powerful forces for good or ill-and they tend to follow a free-market model. No one is forced to read anyone else's blog, and you're certainly always provided with an array of other options and opportunities.

Bloggers are breaking into more and more of the 'traditional' news world. They were at the presidential conventions. They were present at the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court Justices. And yes, Denis Keohane, they will be present at Winter Soldier.

In fact, we want them to come.

I can almost hear the protestations from here. People are probably readying their typing fingers now, getting ready to blog all about how IVAW will only be choosing their personal favorites, established anti-war bloggers.
If so, I have to say: you could not be more wrong.

We welcome bloggers, regardless of political affiliation or stance on the war

IVAW believes that Winter Soldier will stand on its own merits. We have no need to preach to the choir-we think that this testimony is and needs to be an important part of the dialogue about the war.

Preference will be given first to active duty military bloggers. Active duty military bloggers, regardless of their stance on the war, will have a seat. Active duty military bloggers unable to afford the financial burden of transportation to DC but still wishing to attend, please contact me at . It will next be given to veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and following that, all other veterans. This is an event by military and former military, and we want to help as many of you get there as possible.

There will, of course, be some criteria and ground rules. If you are active duty, some are waiverable.

1. This is nonwaiverable: you must not be associated or have endorsed radical violence, in your blog or in person, against idealogical opponents. This is for both sides of the political spectrum and war dialogue. If your words have suggested you will be unable to control and behave yourself with a gathering of your fellow bloggers and/or a large group of veterans with differing political views, you will not be permitted to attend said gathering.

2. You must have an established and regularly updated blog.

3. You must be willing to provide bonafides, particularly at the door, and especially if you claim military service for preference. (Nonwaiverable)

4. Many active duty members and veterans will be attending but not testifying at the Winter Soldier hearings. They are not the news, and they are not fair targets for blog attack. You must be willing to sign a nondisclosure agreement about these people and these people only-that you will not reveal audience members or publish audience words without their explicit consent.

5. Opinions are great. Diversity in ideas is welcome. It is by having the best ideas, not by distorting the facts to match the ideas, that success is possible. You must at least demonstrate the capability for an open mind-and have demonstrated via your blog that you are committed to the factual accuracy, whatever your personal spin.

6. You must have displayed a capacity for making arguments other than ad hominem attacks, and kept personal bile against military members and veterans to a minumum. For entirely fictitious example: saying "Army Sergeant was taken into custody by the police once for animal abuse, thus making all testimony suspect." is fine. "Army Sergeant is a filthy moonbat commie dog-kicker and should burn in hell" is not fine. Remember that whether you believe them or not, whether you believe in what Winter Soldier is trying to accomplish or not, the fact remains that everyone testifying has raised their right hand and swore an oath to their country. Many of them will never be the same again, and some may in fact suffer from PTSD. They do not deserve that kind of treatment.

Please feel free to repost this anywhere and everywhere. The widest circulation will promote the greatest amount of diversity in viewpoints and experiences. I would ask that you at least provide a link to this post, or to the email provided above, so that those sincerely interested can comment and ask questions. If there are other important concerns or items that I am not bringing up, please feel free to email or comment and I will have an answer for you and edit the post accordingly.

I cannot take responsibility for anything else outside of the limits of what I can touch. I am not responsible for all of Winter Soldier itself, and cannot answer questions about its entirety. But I give you my word, as a soldier, as a citizen, and as an NCO, that I will do all humanly in my power to make this piece of the puzzle as fair and just as I can possibly make it.


Denis Keohane said...

Way to go Sarge, and it took less than a week! Trust me that there are active duty and Iraq-Afghanistan milbloggers who will be very interested. One point you didn't say anything about is what the new blogging media has gotten a well deserved reputation for. That is digging into stories told to determine whether they are true or not! Think Rather's memos or Beauchamp's fables. WSI is being advertised by IVAW and supporters as a forum where these vets will speak of "atrocities" they and other soldiers and Marines committed. It is only reasonable to expect that any claim of such a serious crime will be treated - very seriously, including scrutiny of that testimony in excrutiating detail!

Minor point, wrote:

"You must have displayed a capacity for making arguments other than ad hominem attacks, and kept personal bile against military members and veterans to a minumum. For entirely fictitious example: saying "Army Sergeant was taken into custody by the police once for animal abuse, thus making all testimony suspect." is fine."

Actually, that would be by definition an ad hominem attack, unless say the testimony was about the treatment of animals! The ad hominem attack (againt the man) seeks to refute an argument by appeal to some defect of the character of the person making it as opposed to the validity of their argument. Point is, if someone was arrested for animal cruelty that would have zero bearing on whether his testimony about a war crime he claims to have witnessed is credible or not. On the other hand, if he was found to have lied before about claims he made that are relevant to his testimony, say about Iraq, that would not be ad hominem.

Sarge, I'll do my part to get the word out. Well done!


Army Sergeant said...

Hey. That's the great thing about an organization made up of veterans: when you offer to NCO up, people are always happy to take you up on it.

I would appreciate you putting out the word as well-this is a neutral offer and I'd like it to get places from people who might not normally read my site as well as those who would.

Scrutiny of that testimony is A-OK. As long as it's relevant and reasonable scrutiny, done with the intention of respect for military and veterans.

I think my initial point was that the cruelty would be relevant, but hey. Go ahead-keep me honest. My metaphors suck. :) But I'm basically trying to lay out simple rules that mostly amount to: don't be a jerk. It's a sad thing that it's necessary, but we live in a slightly rotten world these days.

Denis Keohane said...

Yeah, I get pedantic, but I'm with you 100% on the "don't be a jerk".

There'll be passion, Sarge, as there must be. Those who don't care one way or the other, well...

Again, well done.

BTW, my son is a Staff Sgt, Army. I've seen him do that NCO-up stuff. It's impressive.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the comment, I'm getting ready to head out again in a few so trips to DC are probably out of the question in the near future, keep me updated. Take care and good luck (not that I'm worried about the size of my voice in the slightest, I'm one of those sort of well established blogs)

Army Sergeant said...

Good luck yourself, you'll need it more than I will. This is hardly life-or-death, though I appreciate the sentiment. I'll definitely keep you updated, and also let you know how it all goes. Trust me, I understand being in and out, though-I should be leaving the States a little while after this whole thing goes down myself.

Denis Keohane said...


Be well and stay safe.


Thus Spake Ortner said...

I wouldn't get in. I could show all the bona fides I want, and Kokesh would still have me tossed. Would love to prove it, but I'm not wasting a trip to Philly, and I have Sniperpalooza that weekend.

Army Sergeant said...

Contrary to popular opinion, Adam Kokesh is not in charge of everything. He handles a lot of things, but the bloggers are my lane. If you met my criteria and promised to be respectful (that does include no deliberately antagonizing anyone, someday you will have to tell me why you and Kokesh have butted heads so vehemently), I would cheerfully stand up against anybody who gave me grief about it. Though I don't think he would, because again, my lane.

But it's DC, not Philly! Or did you mean Sniperpalooza is in Philly?

Thus Spake Ortner said...

Oh, I thought y'all were in Philly.

Either way, as I've stated before, I am not much of a confrontationalist, since it never changes anyones mind. So, have your thing, I wish you well, and any stories of atrocities will be vetted in considerable detail afterward. I just hope that some integrity is brought to the system, because Massey's fables were proven untrue, MacBeth's, etc etc etc.

As for Kokesh, don't even get me started.

Army Sergeant said...

The National Office is, but that's not where Winter Soldier is going on.

I will point out that people who don't believe in confrontation, but just disagree, are what it's all about, but that's the last I'll say on that. I won't try to convince you to trek somewhere just to cover an event you're not interested in.

I will try to get you started on Adam Kokesh, though. Feel free to email if you don't want to post it. I'm constantly mystified as to why he's attracted so much focus, but your response seemed a little personal, like you two had issues above and beyond what someone might expect.

Appreciate the well-wishing, btw.

Nixon said...

Argh! I would've been very interested to come to this thing, but I'm kinda tied up in Baghdad, d'oh. That's cool that you guys are welcoming those with differences of opinion (like me). I'm not sure what to expect, but I know it's going to be interesting. Good luck!

Jonn Lilyea said...

What kind of bona fides do I need? Where is it? What times? I don't see anything in this post that answers any of those questions. THAT'S what I mean by secret squirrel.

Army Sergeant said...

Bona fides required depends on what you're claiming. Claiming active duty to get first preference and maybe help with travel? You'd need to show some proof. Claiming to be a vet? DD214 and verifiable service record. Plain identification if you fall into the third tier of someone who just blogs about the military.

It is being held in DC, from the 13-16 of March, just like the website sneakily says! However, individual schedules will likely be worked out closer to time. If you can only blog for a specific block of time, and you meet criteria, then you'll probably be assisted with blogging that block of time, unless a horde of active duty military come in desperately needing that block of time. I'm not sure what precisely you're asking. Individuals can also address individual concerns via email.

Jonn Lilyea said...

What? Some of us have jobs - I know that's a tough concept for some of ya'all to comprehend. If you're trying to exclude bloggers by being purposely mysterious, it's starting to work. The whole rest of the world sets times and locations in advance.

I don't mind showing my DD214 if everyone who "testifies" shows me theirs. What's good for the goose....

Army Sergeant said...

Yes, having a job must clearly be difficult for someone in the Army, clearly a flake job where one can cut out early at a moment's notice, to understand.
/end sarcasm

Jonn: Much of this is being scheduled on the weekend. If you or anyone else needs specific accomodations, that's fine. However, to the best of my knowledge, the entire itinerary, down to who is going to testify at what time, is not set three months in advance.

Also, DD214s will be required for everyone present who is claiming veteran status. No, you will not be able to wander up to the testifiers and randomly demand to see their DD214s, and I can't imagine how you wouldn't see that as disruptive.

Jonn Lilyea said...

13-15 March is hardly a weekend - well, on my calender. maybe you have a special IVAW calender where Thursday, Friday and Saturday are all weekend days, but mine is just a GSA-issued calender.

If I don't get to see DD214s and verify service of speakers, what's the point? I know you IVAW guys aren't familiar with the term "journalistic integrity" judging by the "journalists" who've done your "reporting"

I guess that's my story, then; IVAW won't allow scrutiny of the supposed "witnesses". You'd think you guys wouldn't want the same kind of lying bozos that testified at the John Kerry theater production. But apparently not.

Army Sergeant said...

Question all you like, sir.

What's the point? Blogging the event, one would assume. Unless you were planning on showing up, disrupting the proceedings by demanding to interview every testifier personally and demanding they show you, personally, their DD214, then leaving disgusted once you found out they were actually veterans.

Sir, with all due respect, you are not the center of attention, and you are not the focus of the event. Bloggers are being invited so that they can cover the event. They are not being invited so that one or two can disrupt the proceedings by demanding special treatment.

You have apparently decided that there is no integrity in IVAW. That's your choice, of belief, sir, and I will fight to the death for your right to express it, much as I think it is entirely mistaken.

I believe in integrity, and whether you do or not, when I give my word I consider it sacred. I don't generally take kindly when folks question my integrity, but I'll accept that you're speaking from bias and ignorance.

Do you really think in a rational world that the rest of IVAW or I would take our time and trouble to verify the DD214s and proof of service of a group of media invitees getting preference, but not the prime testifiers? If you want to exist in a world of delusion where you write what you already believe, so be it. But that's not what's going to happen. Everyone, and I mean everyone, who is claiming service will have to have that service verified.

Do you seriously not see the logistical nightmare that would result from having roving reporters and bloggers randomly challenging testifiers to show their DD214s? Would you allow a reporter at an event to walk through a crowd and randomly start demanding IDs?

Jonn Lilyea said...

The last thing I want to do is disrupt your little drama play. That's not my intent at all. No where in this entire exchange have I demanded the right or the opportunity to disrupt your show. It's just that since you've demanded that I prove my bona fides, which I'm more than willing to do, but I think we should have the same courtesy extended to us.

The media was gullible enough to swallow the load from the last bunch of Winter Soldiers - as it turns out many hadn't even been in the military during the Viet Nam War let alone witnessed the things they claimed in their testimony.

I'm willing to provide not only DD214 (actually in two parts) this very moment, I'm also able to provide assignment orders and promotion orders for every event in my 20 years of service. I can also provide narratives of every award. I blog under my real name because I have nothing to hide (or fear).

There's even a fairly well-known blogger whom I've known since the first Gulf War who can provide details of my career.

It's been my experience that people who won't be forthcoming with their particulars are liars. All I'm asking for the same courtesy that I'm extending to you and your little band.

No, I don't trust IVAW - you have a vested interest in allowing fablists to "testify". How about a "press packet" of redacted DD214s which you don't allow to leave the proceedings?

I'm more than willing to work with you, but you seem unwilling to work with me. You won't take my word, but I'm supposed to accept everything you say at face value. That hardly seems fair or prudent, does it?

Army Sergeant said...

If you do indeed wish to blog the event, I would appreciate indeed advance copies of any documentation. More time means less rush-work, and I hate to procrastinate in that sort of thing.

Your experience clearly varies from mine-I know a lot of people who have reason to stay anonymous. I'm not entirely sure you're showing me an awful lot of courtesy, but I'll grant that you're at least trying.

I don't believe that IVAW has a vested interest in allowing frauds to testify-after all, when you use your reputation to guarantee someone, and they turn out to be a fraud, it's your reputation that's tarnished.

However, a 'press packet' of redacted DD214s is not a bad idea, and I will pass that suggestion up to the people that would handle it. It's a little outside my scope-I'm handling the bloggers, as stated. Personally, I think it sounds like a great idea, if it's a packet that can be flipped through.

I'm trying very hard to listen to what everyone has to say. Really. It's just hard when a lot of people have chips on the shoulder, some of them probably older than I've been alive.

Jonn Lilyea said...

When the public face of the IVAW is someone like the less-than-truthful Adam Kokesh, well, that detracts from the image that you're trying to put forward. I'm just helping you out - if you want to be taken seriously.

I think, though, you're about to get a rude awakening into the IVAW when you suggest they should verify their "witnesses" to the public.

The chip on my shoulder is older than you, but that doesn't stop me from being fair. You can peruse my blog and see that even though I despise the Left, my coverage of their events has been fair.

If you send me your email address, I'll email you a .pdf copy of my DD214.

Army Sergeant said...

Care to make a gentleman's wager? I believe that there will be a positive response from IVAW when I suggest redacted DD214s to be available for verification purposes to the media covering the event. You believe there will be a negative one.

If I'm wrong(though of course I don't believe that I will be) I'll admit that I made a bad call about other people's opinions, and it may be indicative that I need to pay more attention to your way of thinking. I'll even make a public post about it.

If you're wrong (though of course you don't think you will be) and they do make available redacted DD214s, you admit that maybe, just maybe, this Winter Soldier isn't exactly like the last one, and there may in fact be integrity, honor, and truthfulness involved.

Sound like a good deal?

Email, by the way, is

Jonn Lilyea said...

I'll make my decision as to whether it's honest and above board after the theater ends. Make no mistake, I'm skeptical but I'll only write what I see and hear. If you guys end up not liking what I see and hear, don't blame me.

I'll send my own redacted DD214 sometime this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Do you seriously believe that people who served and committed or witnessed atrocities are going to "testify" in a sham proceeding that exposes them to real, criminal charges?

Hopefully you've done your homework. As others have mentioned most of the "people" who "testified" at the first Winter Soldier had either never been in the military, been in the military but never served in Vietnam or served in Vietnam but never witnessed the "atrocities" that they testified about.

John Kerry's "testimony" before Congress was pure hearsay, completely inadmissible in court, and his comrades were out and out liars. Some even stole real service person's identities and "testified" as if they were them.

You have a high, high hurdle to cross if you expect anyone to believe anything that goes on at this "hearing". Every statement will be scrutinized and every claim of service will be vetted by those who were there and know what happened.

Color this Vietnam-era vet thoroughly disgusted and completely uninterested in being sucked in to supporting your event by "covering" it on my blog.

Army Sergeant said...

Yes, I do expect that, antimedia.

Because it's what's right.

If I had seen atrocities, I would try with every fiber of my being to eliminate or eradicate them. If I couldn't do it, I would shout it from the rooftops. If I was complicit in them, it would not stop me from shouting it, even if I had to go to prison for a thousand years.

Right doesn't change with the situation. In the end, all that matters is that you have to wake up with yourself for the next sixty years, and you'd better learn to like yourself. It's more important to never do anything for which you are ashamed than it is to have a little security.

As previously said, this Winter Soldier will have verification. I wonder, seriously, what will happen when that comes out? How will you dismiss the testifiers then?