COLUMN 106, JUNE 1, 2004
(Copyright © 2004 The Blacklisted Journalist)
A CONTROVERSY OVER 'WINTER SOLDIER'
Last February 27, THE BLACKJLISTED JOURNALIST received the following email from Ken Giles, a Vietnam Veteran, who says he was a sergeant in E-51st Signal Brigade1970-71:
Subject: Al Hubbard Winter Soldier
Date: Fri, 27 Feb 2004 11:42:27 -0800 (Pacific Standard Time)
From: Navigator email@example.com
I just finished reading your webpage about the Winter Soldier forum in which you claim:
In contrast to the relative austerity of the National Veterans' Inquiry being held in Washington, D.C., Winter Soldier was a mob scene. There was never a time when the main hall of the Howard Johnson's wasn't packed with people---sitting on the floor, lining the aisles, even listening out in the hallways. A little over 100 veterans testified, but another 500-700 veterans from all over the continental United States came to listen and
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Those who wanted to testify were carefully screened by Oliver, Hubbard, Scott Moore, and other officers of VVAW, as well as by Fonda and her associates, to make sure that they were who they said they were, that they had served where they said they did, and that only the strongest testimony went before the microphones. All veterans participating in Winter Soldier were required to bring their discharge papers (DD-214's). Moreover, Oliver and Moore had fashioned a special "atrocity room" in a nearby house, with hundreds of papers taped to the walls---lists of troop movements and unit assignments which they correlated with the individual claims of war crimes that were being brought before them every day.
Despite this meticulous documentation, many of the Midwest papers, such as the Detroit News, tried to discredit the hearings by questioning the authenticity of the veterans who testified; with all their digging, not one fraudulent veteran was discovered.
In his 1998 book 'stolen Valor," which documented in detail the results of 10 years of research, B.G. Burkett finally laid the false stereotype to rest. He discovered that Vietnam veterans were actually more successful and psychologically healthy than their civilian contemporaries, and showed that black and white soldiers suffered casualties in about the same proportion as their relative populations in America. Burkett has also used service records from the National Archives to expose thousands of phony Vietnam vets. One was Al Hubbard, executive secretary of the VVAW in 1971 and a primary organizer of the Winter Soldier event who had claimed a heroic combat record as an Air Force pilot wounded in Vietnam. Burkett found that Hubbard was neither a pilot nor an officer, was never wounded, and was in fact never assigned to Vietnam at all.
Can you reconcile these two diametrically opposed accounts? I'd appreciate hearing from you.
* * *
Sorry, man, I've been
caught up in a media firestorm, first the breaking of the story in the LA TIMES
on Monday that I had the FBI files on Kerry, then two days ago the burgling of
my house and three boxes of the files being stolen. I had a week from hell, it felt like five weeks in one, 200
calls from the media, the NY Times beating down my door trying to get
exclusive access (maybe they stole the files!). Anyway, here's my answer, in short:
B.G. Burkett is highly
unreliable, especially about Vietnam Veterans Against the War, as well as PTSD.
His claims that PTSD doesn't exist are laughable, considering the
hundreds of thousands of vets (real vets) who suffer from it, and many who have
died as a result of it and the stress on their bodies. Although Mr. Burkett has
certainly done some good work outing fake vets, he ignores one critical
factor---that service people doing covert missions, such as rangers going across
the border in Laos, into North Vietnam, etc., never had those actions put into
their records. Asa Baber was a friend of mine, who wrote the MEN's column for
PLAYBOY for years, before he died last year of Lou Gehrig's disease (probably
from Agent Orange exposure, which Burkett also doesn't believe in), had served
as a Marine captain in Laos in 1961-1962 on secret US military missions, and he
showed me how those things were stricken from his official record. Al Hubbard
was on similar covert missions, flying in a supply plane to the French when they
were fighting the Viet Minh in the fifties. It doesn't surprise me that those
flights were not in his record. He did lie about being an officer, when he was a
career sergeant, because the press kept paying more attention to his co-leader
John Kerry, a decorated officer. Also,
Hubbard never claimed to have been wounded in combat; his back was hurt when his
plane crashed on a runway. When I
interviewed him in 1992, he was on medical disability from the Air Force.
More when my life's not so
AS LONG AS PEOPLE KEEP
IN THIS 615-PAGE PAPERBACK, AL ARONOWITZ, ACCLAIMED AS THE "GODFATHER OF ROCK JOURNALISM", TELLS YOU MORE ABOUT BOB DYLAN AND THE BEATLES THAN ANY OTHER WRITER CAN TELL YOU BECAUSE NO OTHER WRITER WAS THERE AT THE TIME. AS THE MAN WHO INTRODUCED ALLEN GINSBERG TO BOB DYLAN, BOB DYLAN TO THE BEATLES AND THE BEATLES TO MARIJUANA, ARONOWITZ BOASTS, "THE '60S WOULDN'T HAVE BEEN THE SAME WITHOUT ME."
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