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Cliffton Hicks who is from our own Gainesville IVAW chapter spoke with Steven Casey who served as a scout in the same unit in Iraq that Cliff drove tank in. CLif spoke of his love for his fellow soldiers which in his mind and heat puts them beyond his judgement. The jugemet he makes is against war itself. It is the nature of war to witness civilian deaths "Bodies of humans and animals strewn in the streets". Steven and Cliff both spoke of hte results for civlians trying to get out of the wayin the area they patroled that had been declared a "free fire zone" in Operation Blackjack in 2004. Steven reported 20 plus vehicles disabled by soldiers firing into the windshields and radiators. These vihicles were drivig the righ way on a street that their unit was gong the wrog way down. Civilians just trying to get out of the way.
Cliff reports that the orders for the unit they relieved who served in 2003 were the same ie a free fire zone was established. He summarized this as "You had to put themin the dirt before they put you in the dirt."
Just before we arrived they threw an imposter out of the proceedings apparently just one person form the group of about 25 protestors at the entrance of the college had managed to get into the hall and was speedily thrown out when they disruted the proceedings.
Served in a civil affairs unit in Iraq. Their slogan was "We care so you don't have to" That includes everybody all hte way up and so the American people don't have to. So all the pressure is on the shoulders of the soldiers in the field. A few small projects succeeded but overall the situation is a disaster. The problem he observed in the press and other propaganda machines at the time was that the appearance of success was more important than the reality of what was actually happening on the ground.
Jason Hurd came from a military family. His father was military and showed the symptoms of PTSD, nightmares, uncontrolled rage and flashbacks. Served in Iraq as a medic from 04 to 05. Lived in the Green Zone. He did patrols in Bagdad and witnessed and heard stories of families being searched and their children were taken away arbitrarily. Jason called for "all guns to be melted down and turned into jewelry". Reported a car bomb exploding at a check point that his unit had just taken over that killed many Iraqi civilians. He had a young iraqi boy about 17 yars old placed at his feet with missing arms and a buttock blown off and Jason says he lives with that image everyday. He asked what Americans would do in an occupation. His answer is that every man with a shotgun with come out of the hills to fight for their own self determination". Jason ende with this statement which was met with prolonged applause: The suffering in Iraq in tearing that country apart and the only way to end that suffering is an immediate withdrawal of all combat troops form that country."
In Summary we heard again and again about civilians dying, having their children taken away to prison, how deaths and mistaken detainments entailed o apology and often no report was done. The trauma was suffered by both the soldiers who carry imaged burned into their consciousness and by the civilians who have suffered loss ofter loss.
Col Dan Smith: Rules of Engagement in Iraq:
Rules to Live...and Die...By
Counterpunch, December 8, 2004
"the Bush 'preventive war' doctrine could be considered a more permissive ROE national security policy statement than any in the past (e.g., no first use of nuclear weapons). It is also a policy that runs counter to the Charter of the United Nations, which the U.S. has signed, that recognizes only the right of 'national self-defense' against an imminent threat of attack, not some possible threat that might or might not materialize in the indeterminate future."