Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Winter Soldier Investigation Revisited



If anyone read this blog, I'd have titled this post "J Mann gets results."

TNR recently posted a couple of pieces defending the Winter Soldier Investigation. TNR's basic point is that because (1) some atrocities certainly happened in Vietnam, and (2) the Winter Soldier critics have not proved conclusively that every soldier's testimony at the investigation was false, the Winter Soldier Investigation "was never discredited."

Fair enough. So here's what we know about the Winter Soldier Investigation:

1) The Naval Investigative Service tried to investigate the alleged atrocities, but was unable to verify even a single one. None of the "veterans" would cooperate with the NIS, even when promised immunity in return for their testimony, and when NIS contacted several of the veterans alleged to have participated, they denied even being there. (America in Vietnam, Gunter Lewy, 1978).

2) One of the Winter Soldier organizers, Mark Lane, had previously been exposed as having writted a book collecting fraudulent accounts of atrocities allegedly committed by US Soldiers. (See this contemporary review of Lane's book for an idea of whether Kerry might have brought a little more scepticism to a Lane-sponsored event.)

3) Although TNR promises us that the Winter Soldier organizers demanded to see military papers demonstrating that each solder was who he says he was, I'm not particularly confident, given that program moderator and VVAW executive director Al Hubbard was shown, shortly after Kerry's Congressional testimony, to have lied about both his rank and his alleged service in Vietnam. (Early on, when Hubbard was first confronted with evidence that he had lied about his rank, Kerry actually defended him, arguing that admitting the lie showed Hubbard's Sincerity - see William Overend, Who Is Al Hubbard, National Review p. 589, June 1, 1971).

TNR is right that there were atrocities, and that the accounts in the WSI have not been proved false. However, it doesn't bother to mention that they were generated in an atmosphere rife with fraud, and that the NIS was unable to prove any of them true. Make of it what you will.

(TheFreeDictionary.com has what looks like a fairly balanced account.)