J MasseyThis question almost answers itself, doesn’t it? Former Marine Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, a 12-year veteran who became an outspoken opponent of the war, recently faced a vicious attack in the mainstream and rightwing media.  He was called a liar and a fraud, and his eyewitness accounts of U.S. Marines killing Iraqi civilians were called into question.  This coordinated media assault caused confusion even among some opponents of the war. This question almost answers itself, doesn’t it? by Gerry Condon, www.SoldierSayNo.blogspot.com

  • When A Marine Speaks Truth to Power: Why I Stand By My Interview With Sgt. Jimmy Massey

January 23, 2006
Nov. 29, 2006 – Former Marine Staff Sergeant Jimmy Massey, a 12-year veteran who became an outspoken opponent of the war, recently faced a vicious attack in the mainstream and rightwing media.  He was called a liar and a fraud, and his eyewitness accounts of U.S. Marines killing Iraqi civilians were called into question.  This coordinated media assault caused confusion even among some opponents of the war.

I know Jimmy Massey and I have no problem defending him.  As an antiwar activist, I also believe it is my duty to do so.  The antiwar movement must vigorously defend those who dare tell the truth about the nature of the U.S. war in Iraq.

I first met Jimmy Massey in December 2004 when he testified in Toronto at the refugee hearing of Jeremy Hinzman, the first U.S. soldier to seek sanctuary in Canada rather than deploy to Iraq (www.resisters.ca).  Massey’s testimony about U.S. Marines recklessly killing Iraqi civilians during the first days of the U.S. invasion was riveting, credible, and appeared in hundreds of media around the world.

[The hearing officer denied Jeremy Hinzman’s claim for refugee status, but Canada’s Federal Court recently announced it will hear Hinzman’s appeal.]

Massey Supports War Resisters

I saw Jimmy Massey again in September of this year.  He and I were on a veterans’ panel at a war crimes tribunal in Binghamton, New York, to coincide with the trial of the St. Patrick’s Four, Catholic Worker activists who, days before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, spilled their blood in a military recruiting office.

Jimmy Massey was also a defense witness at the trial.  His testimony about fraudulent recruiting practices, based upon his own experience as a Marine recruiter, was one reason the St. Patrick’s Four were acquitted of the more serious charges they faced.

Recently, Massey testified at a similar trial in Dublin, Ireland, where peace activists had symbolically damaged a U.S. military transport plane, one of many which stop for refueling at Shannon Airport in Dublin, a civilian facility, while ferrying U.S. troops to Iraq.  The court proceedings ended in a mistrial and will be retried.

For two years, Jimmy Massey has been speaking out consistently in local, national and international forums.  He is a co-founder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.  He and his wife, Jackie, also speak out bravely and unashamedly about Jimmy’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), part of their daily reality.  According to a Pentagon report, one of every four GI’s returning from Iraq requires treatment for PTSD.

Marines and the media mount attack on Massey

In my opinion, Jimmy and Jackie Massey are true heroes of our antiwar movement, if indeed there are any “heroes.”  Such people do what they do because their experience drives them to do so. But it takes guts.  Jimmy and Jackie Massey are setting a brave example for the GI’s, military families, and veterans who will play an increasingly vital role in bringing the U.S. war on Iraq to an end.

The point person for the current attack on Jimmy Massey’s credibility is Ron Harris, a reporter for the St. Louis Post Dispatch who was “embedded” (translation: “in bed with”) the U.S. Marines during the invasion of Iraq.  For several years now, Harris has been an ardent apologist for the U.S. military’s continued killing of Iraqi civilians.  It is quite telling that the Marine’s public information office was widely distributing Harris’ attack piece before the ink on the paper was barely dry.

Ron Harris also appeared on CNN to repeat his slander of Jimmy Massey. Somehow this had become a priority story.  Other rightwing media attack dogs, such as Michelle Malkin, gleefully joined the attack.  Malkin, a young Asian American woman often seen on Fox News Channel, has been attacking Massey for quite some time.  For a sampling, go to http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&q=Michelle+Malkin+%2B+Jimmy+Massey)

Ms. Malkin took Harris’ attack piece and ran with it.  She personally contacted several media outlets, implicitly threatening to smear them if they did not formally retract their story about Jimmy Massey.  The Sacramento Bee, quickly bending to the pressure, did just that.

Jimmy Massey responds

Jimmy Massey is honest enough to acknowledge that some of his memories became clearer as he emerged from the fog of early PTSD.  Please take the time to read his own response on the website of Iraq Veterans Against the War.

(Army veteran and antiwar activist Stan Goff has also written a response on the Counterpunch website, just below the fundraising pitch.)

During a debate with Ron Harris on Democracy Now, Massey told Amy Goodman that his PTSD therapy, and the process of writing a book about his experiences in Iraq, had helped him to better remember details of some events.

If there were a few inconsistencies in Jimmy Massey’s many media interviews, please consider the following questions.  When was the last time that you, or anybody you know, were quoted accurately in a newspaper article, even a sympathetic one?  When was the last time you were in a war and found yourself in the midst of killing civilians?  Have you ever suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Anybody who has been paying attention knows that those who tell the ugly truth about the U.S. war are systematically and unmercifully attacked by certain people in the U.S. government and military, often through their “friends” in the media.  Just in this last period, we have seen such attacks on former ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, on Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan, on CIA and Pentagon truth tellers, on British Member of Parliament George Galloway, and now on Jimmy Massey.

Why Now?

Nonetheless, the question remains:  why would anyone bother to put all this energy into attacking Jimmy Massey at this particular time?  After all, his testimony is about events that occurred over two-and-a-half years ago, during the initial U.S. invasion of Iraq.  By now it is no secret that the U.S. military has killed thousands of Iraqi civilians, has leveled whole cities in its war on “insurgents,” and is responsible for widespread and systematic torture and abuse of prisoners.

So what is it that makes questions about Jimmy Massey’s credibility newsworthy?  Nothing I can think of.  This is character assassination, pure and simple.  It may be too late to kill the message, but the messenger is still fair game.

But why now?  Three reasons come to mind..

First, Jimmy Massey has just published a book, “Kill, Kill, Kill.”  It was published by a French publisher (those nasty French), and is now available only in French.  Massey is looking for a U.S. publisher.  Could the attack on Massey be a timely attempt to scare off potential publishers?  Good chance.  But wouldn’t it be sweet irony if this controversy actually attracts a publisher….

Second, Jimmy Massey just refuses to go away.  He refuses to shut up about what he saw, what he did, and how he continues to suffer from that experience.  He has broken the code of silence.  He continues to pop up at international forums, discrediting the war effort and embarrassing the Marines.

And finally, as I mentioned before, Jimmy Massey is a cofounder of Iraq Veterans Against the War.  He is helping to organize other soldiers and veterans to speak out.  This attack is more than just an attempt to neutralize Jimmy Massey; it is an attempt to intimidate others who would follow in his footsteps.

The powers-that-be intend to continue this war, probably for years to come.  They are building permanent military bases in Iraq in order to threaten other nations in the region.  They are actively planning attacks on Iran and Syria, among others.

Even a Democratic President and Congress would be unlikely to significantly alter this course, short of a popular revolution in the U.S.  The real powers behind the throne, the mega-corporate class who finance the politicians, are hell-bent on controlling the dwindling supply of oil in the world.  What’s more, they believe it is their destiny to dominate the entire globe, and to exploit all of its resources and peoples.

Drunk with their own power, these wealthy elites think they can get away with anything..  They can manipulate their own citizens by spreading lies through their corporate-owned media.  They can intimidate and blackmail weaker countries.  They can even get the United Nations Security Council to do their bidding.

The Mighty Military has one big flaw

But for their dirtiest work, the work of killing and destroying those who stand in their way, the ruling class is absolutely dependent on the poor and working class men and women of the Armed Forces.  The last thing they can afford is to encounter significant resistance within their military.  This is their Achilles Heel and this is what Jimmy Massey represents.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S., and millions around the world, want to bring an end to the U.S. conquest and plunder of the planet, which can only lead to more war – even nuclear war, to more terrorism and violations of human rights, to more poverty and disease, and to devastating environmental disasters.  If  we are to stop this mad march toward human extinction, we must greatly value those military men and women who are willing to tell the truth and to act upon it.

When soldiers refuse to fight in illegal wars and go to jail instead, they need to know we will be there for them.  If they flee to Canada or other countries, we must support their quest for a safe haven – an alternative to going to war or to prison.  If they organize strikes within the military, or put monkey wrenches in the machinery of war, they will be emboldened by our support.

When these military heroes come under attack, whether they are active-duty personnel, veterans, or military families, we must rally around them.  We must understand who is attacking them and why.  And we must defend them as if they were our last hope for a just and peaceful future.

Gerry Condon deserted from the U.S. Army in 1969 after refusing orders to Vietnam, and spent six years in Sweden and Canada organizing against the war.  He returned to the U.S. in 1975 as part of a campaign for amnesty for all war resisters.  He currently works in support of GIs who are seeking sanctuary in Canada rather than fighting in Iraq.  He coordinates the website, www.SoldierSayNo.blogspot.com, and can be reached by email at SoldierSayNo@yahoo.com This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 06 December 2005 )