Iraq Veterans and Journalist Speak at Kennesaw State


Photos courtesy of Bruce Dixon, Special to The Atlanta Progressive News

(APN) KENNESAW — On Saturday, October 24, 2008, Kennesaw State University hosted Iraq Veterans Against the War as well as Dahr Jamail, a North American Correspondent for Inter-Press Service and author of the book, Beyond the Green Zone.

The panel of Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) members included Chris Raissi, Zach Choate, Jason Hurd, Maggie Martin and Phil Aliff.

In Jamail’s book, he reported collateral damage far beyond what the military or embedded journalists acknowledge.

Approximate 6 million Iraqis have been displaced and l.2 million killed since the U.S. occupation began in March 2003, Jamail said.

Many people still do not have access to clean water or electricity, and unemployment is high.

Iraqi companies can better restore their infrastructure and cheaper than US corporations, and the majority of Iraqis want the US to leave their county, Jamail said.


Photos courtesy of Bruce Dixon, Special to The Atlanta Progressive News

The invasion and occupation of Iraq is more about US corporate profits than fighting terrorism or bringing democracy to Iraq, Jamail said.

Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from 1995 until 2000 and only resigned his position to become Vice President of the United States.

Kellogg, Brown and Root, a subsidiary of Cheney’s old company, Halliburton, overcharged Iraq for gasoline they imported from Kuwait at $2.65 per gallon. Iraq companies could have done the job for under $1.00 per gallon, Jamail said.

Jamail has watched Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater, Bechtel and many other defense contractors rake in huge profits from the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

The Bush Administration has misused the military and blurred the lines between the military and corporations operating in Iraq in their quest for global empire, Jamail said.


Photos courtesy of Bruce Dixon, Special to The Atlanta Progressive News

Central America “death squad” operatives John Negoponte and Col. James Steele were back in the “death squad” business again, this time operating in Iraq, Jamail said.

These death squads have helped to ethnic cleanse many Sunnis from the Baghdad area, Jamail said. The ethnic cleansing is being supported by our tax dollars.

Chris Raissi was US Marine from 2002 until May 2008. Raissi joined the Marines because he was very patriotic and believed in the Iraq War, he said.

He continued to be a true believer until the reality of war turned him around and he began to question the government and the military, he said.

He started reading and learned the US invaded and occupied Iraq based on fraudulent claims regarding weapons of mass destruction and alleged ties between Iraq and terrorists.

As a recruiter in Macon, Georgia, he witnessed recruiters lying and manipulating young people into joining the service, he said.

Recruiters told kids they probably would not go to Iraq when they knew everyone was going to Iraq. Chris now believes our young people should not sacrifice their lives for empire building and corporate profit.

Zach Choate had one tour in Iraq and this was his first time to speak out against the invasion in public.

Most soldiers are afraid to speak out about what they see and do in Iraq, Choate said. The military guilt trips the soldiers to stay in Iraq, he said.

“Our missions in Iraq were not planned out and we usually received bad intelligence,” he said, adding the soldiers who come home with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) are medicated and some overdose on the medication.

Jason Hurd had 10 years of service in both the U.S. Army and Tennessee Army National Guard. From November 2004 to November 2005, Jason served in central Baghdad as a medic.

Hurd did not believe in the war but thought maybe they could do some good for the Iraqis.

He witnessed his unit do morally wrong actions against the Iraqis, he said. As the occupation dragged on, some soldiers took out their stress and frustration on innocent Iraqi people.

They acted like cowboys in the wild west, Hurd said. He wants the US public to hold the politicians accountable for the crimes and atrocities committed against the Iraqi people.

Maggie Martin, a former Sargent, served in the Army from 2001 to 2006.

She was stopped lossed and had 3 deployments to Iraq in 5 years. She said the Iraqis were treated like animals. “Who benefits from the war? Not the soldiers and not the Iraqi people,” she said.

Phil Aliff served in Iraq August 2005 to July 2006 Aliff helped start the first active duty chapter of IVAW and he is a member of the IVAW Board ff Directors.

Aliff wants our representatives to bring all the troops home now, health care for all veterans, and reparations for the Iraqi people.

About the author:

Gloria Tatum is a special contributor to The Atlanta Progressive News and is a publicist for the Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, Atlanta. She is reachable is

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