Friday, November 18, 2005

War critic Sgt. Jimmy Massey gets smeared?

"I killed innocent people for our government. For what? What did I do? Where is the good coming out of it? I feel like I've had a hand in some sort of evil lie at the hands of our government. I just feel embarrassed, ashamed about it."-- Sgt. Jimmy Massey [Interview with Paul Rockwell, In Motion Magazine, May 23, 2004]
Jimmy Massey was in the US Marine Corps for 12 years. A Sargeant. He went to Iraq and he killed people. Some in combat. Some at non-violent demonstrations. Some at checkpoints. Some guy's brother. He "lit them up," as it were.

And then, a funny thing happened. Massey suffered terrible mental anguish and was formally diagnosed with PTSD. He received an honourable discharge from the military on Dec 31, 2003. Massey has since devoted himself to life as an outspoken critic of the invasion & occupation of Iraq--even going to great lengths to testify in war-resister Jeremy Hinzman's application for refugee status, here in Canada. Massey provided testimony regarding his own personal involvement in the killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians. While Hinzman's case failed to satisfy the Immigration & Refugee board in March, Hinzman will get another opportunity to present the case to a Federal Court judge in Feb 2006.

Meanwhile, Jimmy Massey is tackling a new problem in the US.

[click "Read on, MacDuff!" to continue reading]

A reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch has recently suggested that Massey was lying about the extent of civilian casualties caused by his Marine Corps. unit. The reporter, Ron Harris, was also embedded within Massey's unit. Massey had an opportunity to rebut Harris' charges directly, on Democracy Now. In their exchange, Harris tried to nail Massey on the problem of "second hand accounts," e.g. that Massey didn't see every civilian casualty himself, but might have heard this/that account from fellow Marines. Some of those accounts--as well as his own, personal experiences--appear in Massey's book, "Kill, Kill, Kill: A Soldier's Remorse." Massey very deftly responded that Harris--an embedded reporter--never saw anything 1st hand either; Harris was only privy to after-action "briefs" and we can take a guess about how sanitized those briefs probably were. In any case, Massey held his own pretty well and even followed up with an article of his own: An Iraq vet responds to charges he lied about American war crimes. Here's an excerpt:
Harris’ apparent contempt for me seems to stem from the fact that one and a half years ago, I exposed him for having greatly embellished an incident at Rasheed Military complex in his April 9, 2003, article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch. (Note the caption confirming Harris’ assignment to Lima Company). In the article, Harris described a dramatic, daylong battle glorifying heroic deeds and describing guerillas “hiding behind civilians.” Speaking at the Boston Veterans for Peace Convention in 2004, I said Harris had greatly exaggerated the combat in what was subsequently hailed as an example of American military prowess. I confessed publicly that”contact that day was thin and sporadic,” and that “as my unit entered Iraq it came upon empty Iraqi military bases with weapons lying on the road.” I noted that We shot it up with everything we had, and we were laughing and having a good time. The Iraqis let us in the country; we didn’t take it.’
It is ironic that Ron Harris should accuse others of bad reporting. It was Ron Harris himself that misquoted me as having mentioned a 4 year old with a bullet in her head, and then conveniently used his own misquote to accuse me of lying. Simply doing a web search for “Jimmy Massey” and “4 year old,” you will find that the only source even suggesting that I knew of an incident when Marines had killed the child is Harris’ own story. My only related quote had been “Lima Company was involved in a shooting at a checkpoint. My platoon was ordered to another area before the victims were removed from the car. The other Marines told me that a 4-year-old girl had been killed.”
Most importantly, this incident is not even mentioned by me and my co-author in “Kill, Kill, Kill” because it relied on a second hand account. Harris would know this if he had read the book that he denounced so virulently on CNN and in his article, but he has not and cannot read it because it is only out in French, a language he openly admits he cannot speak.


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