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A Murder Controversy in Afghanistan

A soldier told his father his own unit was murdering innocent Afghans. The father told the Army. They didn’t listen. We will. 

U.S. Army Spc. Adam Winfield while on duty in Afghanistan. Winfield is accused of murdering civilians during his deployment to Afghanistan, a charge he and his family firmly refute. (AP)

Some stories out of Afghanistan break your heart and make you wonder about the war. Yesterday, NPR reporter Tom Bowman brought us the story of ex-Marine Chris Winfield, whose son Adam sent him a message from Kandahar this year that there was murder going on in his Army unit.  

Murder of innocent civilians, it’s now charged. For sport. And he was afraid for his own life if he resisted — if he told.  The father told the Army. The Army did nothing.  

Now his own son is charged with murder. Today, the father is with us, with a terrible story out of Afghanistan. 

-Tom Ashbrook 

Guests: 

Christopher Winfield, father of Army specialist Adam Winfield, who is charged with the murder of an Afghan civilian in May. He is himself a former Marine. He is joined by Emma Winfield, mother of Army Spc. Adam Winfield, and Neal Puckett, defense lawyer.

Tom Bowman, Pentagon correspondent for NPR. Listen to his story: “Father: Army Ignored Complaints of Afghan Slayings.”  

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  • nick

    What are we doing to a generation of our youth?

    When we send 19 year olds over to Iraq and now Afghanistan time and time again, what do you think we do to these wonderful kids?

    At 19 and even their early 20s, these kids have not formulated themselves. But after two, three, even four stints in a war zone, what do you think they have become?

    Look at the extreme jump in homocide rates on bases and around them. The Suicide rate has grown significantly.

    This is worse than Vietnam what we are doing to these kids.

    And for what………?

    It was all based on lies by spoiled adult politicians who never wore a uniform.

    God help those kids because when they return, we sure as heck aren’t doing enough for them.

  • gina

    Another factor may be the dramatic increase in “conduct waivers” issued by the Army and Marines in recent years. To make up for flagging enlistment, more recruits with felony convictions, even for armed robbery, manslaughter and sex crimes, have been welcomed into the ranks.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24243460/

  • Lou

    Great work On Point, continue demonizing our brave troops who are defending us from Islamic terrorists, maybe Osama will send you a check during your next fund drive.

  • michael

    Didn’t wikileaks release other incidents similar to this as well? I’m sure this is not the first nor the last and many will go unreported(even in this case it took longer than it should have to investigate causing another solider to be beaten for doing the right thing.

    When I was in the military we are told we should refused to follow orders that violate the UCMJ and report others if they do but this is hardly the case and many are unaware that they can refuse such. This is probably hard for some like say (lou) cause the media has hyped up that all soldiers are Hero’s so when acts like this is found many wish/want to sweep it under the rug but this is further from the truth many soldiers are not anything close to soldiers and quite frankly if people heard what some say about murdering/killing Muslims/Arabs they be shocked.

    I think the case as to why more incidents are not reported/covered by U.S. media is the guilt from the Vietnam War and treatment of the returning troops but such guilt has been exploited such much that an often hear no evil see no evil is now the norm and the common if you report it it will hurt moral, etc etc.

  • Al Dorman

    Also in Iraq, it seems that our media is behaving as a propaganda outlet for the War Department:

    ” Brisbane war correspondent Michael Ware is set to reveal that an alleged war crime he filmed in Iraq has never been seen or investigated by authorities.

    Mr Ware tells of the alleged incident he says he witnessed and filmed in 2007 when working for US news giant CNN, but claims the network decided the footage was too graphic to go to air.

    My report was too hot to broadcast: Brisbane war correspondent
    Kate Dennehy
    September 19, 2010

    Ads by Google
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    Sign our petition to investigate Bush-Cheney Administration abuses!
    A screen grab of Michael Ware during his period as a war correspondent with Time Magazine in the Middle east.

    A screen grab of Michael Ware during his period as a war correspondent with Time Magazine in the Middle east.

    Brisbane war correspondent Michael Ware is set to reveal that an alleged war crime he filmed in Iraq has never been seen or investigated by authorities.

    Mr Ware, who covered the Afghanistan war from 2001 and the Iraq war from 2003 for Time magazine and the US television network CNN from 2006, returned to Brisbane in December suffering post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

    His harrowing near-decade of war coverages were documented last Monday in the first of a two-part ABC Australian Story series, with the second part to be broadcast tomorrow night.

    Mr Ware tells of the alleged incident he says he witnessed and filmed in 2007 when working for US news giant CNN, but claims the network decided the footage was too graphic to go to air.

    He alleges that a teenager in a remote Iraqi village run by the militant Islamist group, al-Qaeda was carrying a weapon to protect himself.

    ‘(The boy) approached the house we were in and the (US) soldiers who were watching our backs, one of them put a bullet right in the back of his head. Unfortunately it didn’t kill him,’ he tells Australian Story.

    ‘We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died.’ ”

    (September 19, 2010
    Kate Dennehy – Brisbane Times)

  • michael

    William J. Astore wrote a great piece,

    “Whether in civilian life or in the military, heroes are rare — indeed, all too rare. Heck, that’s the reason we celebrate them. They’re the very best of us, which means they can’t be all of us.

    But does elevating our troops to hero status really cause any harm? What’s wrong with praising our troops to the rafters and adding them to our pantheon of heroes?

    A lot.

    By making our military a league of heroes, we ensure that the brutalizing aspects and effects of war will be played down. In celebrating isolated heroic feats, we often forget that war is guaranteed to degrade humanity as well.”

    “War,” as writer and cultural historian Louis Menand noted, “is specially terrible not because it destroys human beings, who can be destroyed in plenty of other ways, but because it turns human beings into destroyers.”

    When we create a legion of heroes in our minds, we blind ourselves to evidence of destructive, sometimes atrocious, behavior. Heroes, after all, don’t commit atrocities. They don’t, for instance, dig bullets out of pregnant women’s bodies in an attempt to cover up deadly mistakes, as the Times of London recently reported may have happened in Gardez, Afghanistan. Such atrocities, so common to war’s brutal chaos, produce cognitive dissonance in the minds of many Americans, who simply can’t imagine their “heroes” killing innocents and then covering up the evidence. How much easier it is to see the acts of violence of our troops as necessary, admirable, even noble”

    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/22/opinion/la-oe-astore-heroes-20100722

  • william

    If true, this is not uncommon or unexpected in war.

  • Steve T

    I respect that on point has a wright to delete my post.
    But that won’t stop me from telling the truth or saying what I have a right to say. I am surprised you are airing it.

    This story is a true wake up call to America.
    Wake up America.

  • JacFlasche

    michael wrote: I think the case as to why more incidents are not reported/covered by U.S. media is the guilt from the Vietnam War and treatment of the returning troops but such guilt has been exploited such much that an often hear no evil see no evil is now the norm and the common if you report it it will hurt moral, etc etc.
    Posted by michael, on September 23rd, 2010 at 8:59

    I was very involved in the antiwar protests during the Vietnam conflict, was kicked out of school, strangled by the police, and finally imprisoned on false charges all for my antiwar views, yet outside of a doubtful incident that supposedly took place at LAX when some protester spit on returning vets (and which may have been a media fabrication) I never heard of anyone but the government mistreating Vietnam Vets.

    Things are worse now because many who would be outraged by the nonsense we pursue in Iraq and Afganistan are safe from being used as cannon fodder by the corrupt military/industrial/political system because of the lack of a draft.
    We need a universal service for all Americans, so that the rich and the politicians cannot send the poor and those unable to make their way in our society to die for their economic and geopolitical ambitions.

  • JacFlasche

    Tom and Company:

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

  • James
  • Mark Sawtelle

    From the Dept. of Underreported News …

    My Polish is very fragmentary, but my eye lit on this story, reported on 9/10/10 in the mainstream Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita:

    http://www.rp.pl/artykul/533782-Amerykanie-zabijali-dla-sportu.html

    “Americans killed for sport
    Groups of soldiers have been accused of killing Afghan civilians and picking up parts of their bodies as trophies …”

  • Ed Hill

    SIMPLE QUESTION: I heard this story reported on the BBC two weeks (or more) ago. WHY is it only now reaching the US media — esp. Public Radio News

    PLEASE raise this ON AIR!

  • Tim

    I am 100% behind our troops in the military and, humanitarian effort that they are doing in Afghanistan. It hurts to hear a story like this, it gives our military a BAD image for the actions of a few rotten apples.

    I feel for Adam being put into this situation. The rules of engagement are clear, and if Sgt. Gibbs ignored them he is 100% guilty and should be held accountable for his heinous actions. MURDER is an atrocious crime.

  • BHA

    Why was the ONLY way for Spc Winfield to report this while in Afghanistan to go up his chain?

    Who was SSgt Gibbs’ direct superior? Why couldn’t the people Chris Winfield contacted stateside go DOWN the chain???

    Ultimately, the top dog is responsible for everything that happens below him/her. And if something like outright murder is happening, I bet President Obama, every general below him, the Colonels below them, etc WANT to stop it.

  • John

    Good thing we are keeping the military morally pure by excluding gays.

  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    This is a nightmare. This is the movie Platoon mapped onto this war.

  • Sherrill Musty

    Please, I implore you to not let this information die without getting a public response from the military all the way up the chain of command.

    We rely on the media to get to the truth – what else is available to us? It is rare to have the media probe effectively the crimes being committed in the name of the United States.

  • Dave

    Tom,

    I’ve spent 25 years with the Army. If all allegations are true, mistakes were made at every level.

    It’s likely a special hotline or incidents like this will be set-up as a result.

    Dave

  • http://www.simplyernest.blogspot.com ET Spoon

    This is the result of 37 years of the Nixon-Friedman All Volunteer Force. This is the result of 37 years of “letting those who want to be there, be there.”

  • Mary-Anne

    Maybe it is time to stop excluding people on account of them being female, fat, or gay, so we can start to filter out the people who are immoral or mentally ill.

    Being tolerant gets us a bigger pool of people to draw from.

  • Leah

    Just curious, why did Tom just cut off that guy in mid-sentence who was about to say that the soldier’s and his father’s lives were at risk? Did I miss something

  • Bruce

    “Apocalypse Now” and into the heart of darkness. Again we’ve proved to the world who and what we are … a murderous tribe of barbarians … who shop.

  • Frank Merewether

    In a situation in which McCrystal is heading a kill squad and gets promoted by Obama to head the operations in Afghanistan, with everyone knowing about McCrystal’s death squad, it’s apparent that the mentality for these crimes comes from the very top.

  • Ed Barna

    In World War II, my father was a navigator in B-24s in China. On one bombing mission they were unable to drop their bombs on target, and couldn’t keep them in the plane while landing. The pilot said, “Let’s drop them there,” pointing to a Chinese river village. My father was aghast. “Those are our allies!” he said. “Do you realize how many people live in those river villages? You’ll kill hundreds of people!” The pilot said, “Ahhh, all these Orientals are the same.” The bombardier, too, favored bombing the village–and that’s what they did.
    That was the end of it. Nothing that could be proved, no way for my father to protest, no one paying attention amidst the carnage of the war in China.

  • The Beagle

    What do you expect when America now has nothing more than hired guns and a Hession Army.
    We get what we deserve!

  • pw

    “I think the case as to why more incidents are not reported/covered by U.S. media is the guilt from the Vietnam War and treatment of the returning troops but such guilt has been exploited such much that an often hear no evil see no evil is now the norm and the common if you report it it will hurt moral, etc etc.”

    Michael, you nailed it in part. But let’s not forget the extent to which our economy relies on defense spending and on oil. You don’t get defense spending unless you have wars and/or maintenance of bases in other countries to keep us at war. We depend on war for prosperity. You don’t get war unless you convert the criminal behaviors of non-state actors like the jihadists.

    You don’t get war unless you fool people like Lou (above) who swallows the idea of war against Islam. The torture, the deaths of our kids in Afghanistan, the twisting of our surviving kids into monsters — all of these are the prices we pay for our suburban home, our next visit to the Chevron station, our easy spending in Best Buy or Macy’s. We pay with our kids’ lives. Not a pretty picture.

  • JacFlasche

    Tim wrote: I am 100% behind our troops in the military and, humanitarian effort that they are doing in Afghanistan. It hurts to hear a story like this, it gives our military a BAD image for the actions of a few rotten apples. Posted by Tim, on September 23rd, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Tim you cannot be “behind our troops”, and in favor of their mission in Afghanistan. These are contradictory emotional impulses. If you were behind our troops you would want them home, and not squandered in the manner they have been in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is all geopolitical. Control the oil in Iraq, and deny China the raw mineral resources of Afghanistan. When the Chinese move into Afghanistan it won’t be with troops like they did in Tibet it will be with business like in Africa, and heavy mining equipment, to make a profit, not to pursue some dubious geopolitical theory, like we did in Vietnam and the domino theory, and are now in Afghanistan.

  • Laurie

    Thank you for your reporting of this heinous activity. What a horrific story both because of the murders and disregard for human life AND what these poor parents had to face knowing their son was in danger from his own troops.
    How could the father not get someone in the army to respond? This MUST be investigated at each level (including those who did not respond to the father)-they must be held accountable.

  • Dave

    Tom,

    While the Army trains its Soldiers to report any wrong-doing, and can jump the chain of command, young Soldiers can easily feel intimidated when everyone is carrying a weapon.

    The problem is the Army can’t automatically pull a Soldier from the unit any time they make an allegation (it would be to easy to use this as a tactic to get out of combat).

    Dave
    (Fort Campbell, KY)

  • Nick

    Thank you for reporting on this disturbing and disgusting story about not only the treatment of Afghans but also the treatment of Americans in service. I am almost as disgusted by NPR cutting you off the radio and even off the webcast.

  • Nick B.

    Multiple tours, extreme stress, the nature of war in general and these two in particular (Afghanistan, Iraq) has resulted in tragic loss of humanity among the alleged perpetrators.

  • Alisa H.

    This is heart breaking. These young people put their lives in jeopardy to serve our country and this is what we do to them. Time and time again we tell our children to do the right thing, be honorable, have integrity. Aren’t these the tenants of the military? Yet and still when it comes down to it the military is about protecting itself and preserving itself. It really makes me sad.

  • JacFlasche

    Mary-Anne wrote: . . . “Maybe it is time to stop excluding people on account of them being female” . . .Posted by Mary-Anne, on September 23rd, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Yes with military female equality we can put women in combat and totally screw up the next generation of Americans because of stress hormones that affected the eggs in her womb. Children are affected by the metabolic experience of their mother even before their eggs are united with a sperm. If you really want to turn our culture insane all you have to do is expose these eggs to the insanity of combat via putting their future mothers in combat situations. Lets hope your suggestion is never followed.

  • Shay

    What I didn’t finish saying was, lines get blurred for young men, especially in Infantry and the Army does nothing to help these individuals. Officers are taught there is a percentage of acceptable loss for our troops and for civilians. If the Army addressed the issues that allow acts such as civilian murders to go on they would not have the numbers to continue their mission.

    Other soldiers don’t speak out because of being afraid that they may be shot in the back, or an casualty of friendly fire. How do you as an individual stop this from happening? It has happened in Iraq, trials have gone for just the same acts, if you read through the Army Times.

    Never was I saying that it was acceptable. The fact is there is plausible deniablity that allows heinous acts to continue. If soldiers are afraid of being killed by not just the enemy, but also their “brothers in arms”, it makes for a hard system to beat. Whistle blowers are essentially seen as a threat to the larger mission. Now not only are you having to maintain the enemy but also diplomatically re-establish ties to the community leaders. Unfortunately like many things if it is not acknowledged, then it doesn’t exist, and both the US and Afghan’s don’t have to do anything about it.

  • Chuck Cunningham

    Tom,
    Are yo a combat vet? I’ll bet not. I get very sick and tired of commentators like yourself using “Vietnam” as a reference/substitute for human atrocities, drug crazed soldiers/killers. I think I heard you used the term “Vietnam” in a very bad way at least three times during this radio broadcast. I am a Viet vet and frankly I am very tired of the label being derogatory and being prejudged because I served. I served honorably as most of us did. Did you know that not ONE Vietnam soldier EVER surrendered? That they all fought to the death or were captured? We got no respect upon our return and still have to live with the stigma you all seem to want to keep alive. War is hell… there were MANY unspoken atrocities in WWII as with any other war. They go along with the territory. Blame your gov’t. for having our already depleted military do 4-5 tours and you expect NOTHING to happen???? You need to try to understand and blame those that deserve blame and not some battle shocked vet.
    Get off the Vietnam bandwagon. We served proudly. Give us a break, give us the honor we deserve or leave us the hell alone alone.
    If I EVER hear you again slamming and belittling the Viet vets I will personally have the VFW group I am a member of picket your radio station with placards with your name in bright letters for all to see.

  • Nick

    From Alisa H. – “…still when it comes down to it the military is about protecting itself and preserving itself.”
    The military must be learning from the catholic church.

  • JacFlasche

    “Get off the Vietnam bandwagon. We served proudly. Give us a break, give us the honor we deserve or leave us the hell alone alone.” Posted by Chuck Cunningham, on September 23rd, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    You “served proudly” in a war that even the Sec. Of Defense later admitted was a stupid war, that we got into under false pretenses and pursued without knowing what we were doing.

    Perhaps you should have served questioningly, instead of with the blind ignorance that you still are proud to display. Learn some history any you will see what a dupe are still being in assuming this attitude.

    Now you think that Vietnam is above comment because you have wrapped your ignorance in some illusion of patriotism.

  • JacFlasche

    Cunningham wrote “If I EVER hear you again slamming and belittling the Viet vets I will personally have the VFW group I am a member of picket your radio station with placards with your name in bright letters for all to see.”
    Posted by Chuck Cunningham, on September 23rd, 2010 at 11:14 AM

    You were fighting in Vietnam to preserve the American right to free speech then I take it?

  • Chris

    Jac, Normally I agree with your posts, but not here. Chuck served for our country, and although he doesn’t say if he enlisted or was drafted, the Vets from Vietnam were not treated honorably when they returned and I do not mean by the public. The government made them into pariahs and hung them out to dry because they knew the war they started was a mistake and the returning troops became part of the collateral damage. I don’t think Chuck was commenting on the correctness of the war, but on his experience and conduct during it. Soldiers are trained to follow orders, and in many instances, ignore their human instincts. War is hell and only those who have served know the true meaning behind that statement. He is only asking for respect for serving his country.

  • JacFlasche

    Number 1 rule of living on earth.

    Don’t get shot.

    Number 2 rule of living on earth.

    Don’t shoot anyone.

  • michael

    “SIMPLE QUESTION: I heard this story reported on the BBC two weeks (or more) ago. WHY is it only now reaching the US media — esp. Public Radio News

    PLEASE raise this ON AIR!”

    I posted this on onpoint nearly a week ago, bbc which works often with NPR reported this nearly a week ago yet “somehow” Tom and NPR just found out the last few days. Odd indeed.

  • BHA

    Again we’ve proved to the world who and what we are … a murderous tribe of barbarians.
    Posted by Bruce, on September 23rd, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    I’m glad I use my initials, not my first name when posting here. I wouldn’t want anyone reading that statement to think it came from the same person as things that *I* post.

    Bruce – listen up. There are a FEW bad apples in the military barrel. That does NOT mean every citizen of the USA is the same. Just like the fact there is one wing-nut minister in Florida who wants to burn copies of the Qur’an represents even an infinitesimal percentage of the citizens of the USA.

  • JacFlasche

    Ok Cris, I agree with the government being the prime source of disrespect for our troops. I don’t know if he served with honor in Vietnam. I almost consider that an oxymoron because it was dishonorable to be there in the first place. I have much higher regard for those who chose prison or Canada, because they took the hard road of conscience.

    A friend of mine is a real hero.
    Born into a wealthy family in Tucson he enlisted and volunteered for Vietnam to be a medic.
    He refused to carry a weapon because he didn’t believe in the conflict and didn’t want to shoot anybody.
    When he got to Vietnam he volunteered again to be the medic in an all volunteer unit that went on dangerous missions. He still refused to carry a gun although he said that after being there for about three weeks he now felt like shooting someone.
    His entire platoon was ambushed and everyone (including him was shot) He stayed and got everyone else evacuated before leaving. He was awarded the silver star. Little did I know this about him even though I worked with him every day, until a neighbor who was a retired general’s wife told me about how highly decorated he was. Once on a ride from Taos to Tuscon I asked him about it.
    He told me all about it. His final summary comment was, “Volunteering for Vietnam was the stupidest thing I ever did.”
    This is the actions and thoughts of a real hero. Not someone who was, “In the rear with the gear”.

  • BHA

    “somehow” Tom and NPR just found out the last few days. Odd indeed.
    Posted by michael, on September 23rd, 2010 at 11:50 AM

    Perhaps it took a few days to get the guests lined up. Given the circumstances, I have to believe there were a lot of ducks to line up, especially legal ones.

  • Cathoryn

    Tongue & Cheek comment on the “Massachusetts” solution to the problem:

    Irradiated Hashish in MRE pouches

    What we can’t solve, we can make legal.

  • T. Voyd

    To JacFlasche,

    The “don’t shoot anyone” is quite optimistic and I commend you for that. Tell us,JacFlasche,what you are doing to spread this possibility around the world.

    I am a combat Veteran of Iraq, crossing the border in March of 2003. It profoundly changed me as a man.

    I was medically discharged five years ago, multiple shoulder surgeries and now spend each week in front of a mental health professional at the VA.

    There are 18 Veterans EVERY DAY committing suicide, 6500 per year. That is 1/5 of all suicides in this country every year.

    Those jetliners used in 9/11 were just as efective as a bullit.

    This country takes its freedom and buys $300,000 homes it can’t afford, maxes out ten credit cards it can’t pay back and eats itself into the most overweight and obese country in the world. And blames all that on someone else.

    Your freedom should be one of the most valuable possecions, but sadly it is most often used as an exuse to self indulge.

    Until you are willing to stand between the enemy and our flag, you should take your foot off of the throat of any Veteran who is in many ways already stomped on by it’s own government.

  • Chris

    Jac, I am coming from the viewpoint of having family who have served in every conflict starting with the American War of Independence (I think the French/Indian too, but can’t prove). A cousin just completed his 3rd & final tour in Iraq after volunteering for his final tour in hopes of keeping someone with a family from going over. He is now out of the military. My uncle served during WW2 and was highly decorated for protecting his unit, but never spoke of his service or medals. He only said he did what he thought was right and he was comfortable with his conscience. There are honorable people who serve and we cannot paint them all with the same brush especially when dealing with a draft. I can’t agree with honor for those who left rather than serve.

  • BHA

    JacFlasche:

    I’m sorry, but I find your position that service in Vietnam was dishonorable offensive.

    I don’t think we should have gone into Vietnam any more than I think we should have gone into Iraq but that does NOT change the honorable nature of the service performed by MOST OF the soldiers who were in theater.

    People who served in Vietnam believed they were fighting against the domino effect of Communism. While they were not protecting their shoreline ON their shoreline, many people believed (and still do) that if the USSR was not stopped ‘over there’ we would be fighting them ‘over here’.

    And, no, I did not volunteer to go to Vietnam when I graduated High School in 1974. Fortunately for me, they were not drafting in ’74/’75 or I would have had to make that “honorable to serve or honorable to run” decision. My # was 78.

  • JacFlasche

    Cris, I have a similar family history. Only I know for sure that no ancestor was in the French and Indian War. But my family was involved in every American conflict since then, including the Revolution. But being
    Americans we hold that in no special regard. I have relatives that were killed in 911 attack on the Pentagon. That does not excuse me from questioning the policies of the hideous plutocracy that our country has become when they claim someone needs killing. This whole pride thing just makes people blind. To go to Vietnam all you had to do was show up when drafted. No further deliberation or intelligence required. It was easier to do that than civil disobedience. It only became hard later when the troop got to Vietnam, and then it was too late. I wish people would stop equating just what happened to them with some righteous cause. Are they proud of having been duped into killing and being wounded physically and mentally for a false cause? It’s like the thing that has bashed you the hardest is what you love the most, like some poor woman who has been brain damaged by her drunken husband defending him when the police arrive. That’s what vets of unjust wars always sound like. You didn’t do anything heroic, you just allowed yourself to be bamboozled into an untenable position from which you have no choice but to defend you life, and kill others. A big part of the apparent pride and inability to face reality of some vets is that to admit what they have done to other human being, for no good reason, would drive them to suicide. I had a cousin who killed himself because he could not bare the memories of torturing Vietnamese. He would start shaking if he was in the same room as an asian person, because of his suppressed guilt. He was pretty normal before he went there. The last “just” war America was involved in was Korea (maybe). It’s time to stop this nonsense and trying to rationalize it with the allusion to the sacrifices of our troops. If you want to stop their need for sacrifices stop sacrificing them in dubious wars.

  • John Peterson

    Congrats on airing the story on the young man in Af. This is what happens when you take a young person out of a semi-civilized society such as ours, put weapons in there hands, send them half way around the planet, and expect nothing but John Wayne type behavior. Not going to happen. I actually got through on the phone today and was going to tell my story. I had to hang up because of the memories of 40 years ago came rushing back. As a 19 year old Lance Corporal(E-3) in Vietnam I was given a lawfull order by a Staff Sergeant (E-6) to shoot young children looking for food in a garbage dump at hill 55 (LZ Baldey) about half-way between Hoi An and Tam Ky. I didn’t, couldn’t, and would never commit such an act. As a member of the US Armed Forces there are two types of “orders”. Lawfull orders given by NCO’s (E-4 through E-9) and Direct orders given by officers. Either type of order, if thought to be illegal, do not have to be obeyed. That being said, when your put in that type of situation, anything can happen. I hope the truth comes out for this young man. He doesn’t deserve to be in the brig.

  • JacFlasche

    BNA, wrote: “I don’t think we should have gone into Vietnam any more than I think we should have gone into Iraq but that does NOT change the honorable nature of the service performed by MOST OF the soldiers who were in theater.” Posted by BHA, on September 23rd, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    You cannot do honorable service in a dishonorable cause. Honor lies in not supporting dishonor.

    Was there any honorable service in the Nazi death squads? Surely some of those involved preformed their duties well, even though they disagreed with them. Were they honorable?

  • JacFlasche

    John Peterson the entire sane world thanks you. Even if it is only though this one little post. Thanks.

  • JacFlasche

    T. Voyd wrote: “Until you are willing to stand between the enemy and our flag, you should take your foot off of the throat of any Veteran who is in many ways already stomped on by it’s own government.”
    Posted by T. Voyd, on September 23rd, 2010 at 12:17 PM

    If my foot had real weight to it you would not have your current problems. If you call that having it on your throat you should think again.
    And just who are the enemy? Perhaps they are whomever the power elite says they are? Because of the actions of a handful of Saudi’s we are involved in these “righteous wars” that caused your problems, just because of knee jerk reactions like yours childish illusions to enemies and flags.
    Bin Laudin could not have possibly hoped for such destruction to our society and economy from his airplane bombs, as we have caused to ourselves with the help of our fearless (didn’t show up for service) leaders of the time, and the idiotic patriotic build up to the wars, when anyone who pointed out the truth was persecuted as not supporting the troops etc. Grow up.

  • T. Voyd

    To JacFlasche,

    Lets just dis-band our entire military and send them home and we’ll all just sit back and let you save us.

    Duped is unfairly used to describe all Veterans of an unjust war. If you,JacFlasche,knew there were no WMD’s in Iraq, then why didn’t you show up on the tarmack at Ft. Benning and prevent my aircraft from taking off.

    I have spent the past five years now trying to come up with a justifiable reason for having been a part of that horrible decision made by our government to create that war. I haven’t been able to justify it.

    When you say “duped”, you make it sound as follows, A woman’s friend has a baby and this friend lets the woman hold her baby. The woman says “look how cute, look how small it’s fingers are and it’s soft skin, I want one she says”. So the woman gets pregnant and as she is giving birth, she is writhing and screaming in pain. So you are saying she isn’t allowed to scream in pain, because she was duped by the beauty of her friends new born. Maybe you would say to her,you should have known what you were getting into when you were having sex, so therefore your not allowed to make a peep while giving birth.

    So JacFlasche says, hey Veteran you don’t get to scream in pain, because you Mr. Veteran and pregnant screaming lady, you knew this could hurt.

    You don’t get to chose whether I served honorably or not. That was and is my choice. I believed in principle of the purpose of the military, the same as my local police department.

    Our government is sometimes right and sometimes wrong. And when it is wrong, that doesn’t mean a combat veteran isn’t allowed to suffer because of the governments bad decision.

    Don’t shoot and don’t get shot. When you finally make this work, show us what to do.

  • Mom of 2 Marines

    First, my heart goes out to this young man and his family. Second, I wonder what can be done. Please continue to follow this story.

    What options did Adam Winfield or his parents have? It seems to be policy that any query about an individual–even if it concerns his or her “boss” as this did, is relayed DIRECTLY back to the “boss.” Even the most MINOR complaint will lead to the individual being tormented. This needs to change.

  • gina

    It’s likely a special hotline or incidents like this will be set-up as a result. — Dave

    Dave, the account I read said that the elder Winfield DID call a special hotline, among other calls, all documented through phone records. As an ex-Marine, he presumably had a good grasp of both chain-of-command and military bureaucracy. There’s a lot to answer for here.

    I wish Mr. Winfield and his family well.

  • Dennis Byrne

    I believe it is past time to get out of any ground wars.
    We never should have been in Iraq and it may be too late in Afghanistan to win hearts and minds.
    I might be wrong, but I believe an air war if we must fight them is more effective.
    I am a veteran, was in the Navy during Viet Nam. I didn’t see any “action”. My heart goes out to the men and women caught up in killing fields for repeated hitches.
    This exposure to death and destruction has to have a
    denegrating effect on them, and eventually shape their
    conduct into mindless killing. War is tragic. Stop the war!

  • sally wakeland

    I am appalled at this story. Yet I am not surprised! This sounds like Vietnam (which is what we are comparing this war to in Afghanistan)…my cousin was very near MiLai in Vietnam and has talked about that incident so much since it happened years ago!!
    My son is a West Point graduate, has served in Iraq, now he is in a remote province of Afghanistan commanding a unit.
    One of my concerns is the lack of leadership that I hear resounding in this account of the murders of innocent people. Where was the leadership, the back-up? There was no place for this young man, Adam, to turn to. What a shame!!
    This story is so unsettling and disconcerting. One hears about these situations or incidents in every war. We’ve heard more about these because of the media access.
    Do we know too much? I don’t think so…..so many stories that are unsettling….the Pat Tillman fiasco, etc.
    I am wondering if it would have facilitated the Winfield’s plight if he had contacted a congressman or senator in Florida? or maybe he did that?
    I empathize with his situation and his frustration. I wish his son, Adam, well in resolving his legal battles, expecially since he was ordered to commit this atrocity!

  • Mark

    I work for a large telecommunications company that has all kinds of ways to report misconduct but other then reporting actual stealing or money and material just make a report if it is about management and see if you have a job in the next 12 months. This brave young man could have easily been killed by his bully squad leader. I hope bringing this to light gets the charges dropped for Chris as soon as possible.

    The power structure in most organizations do not want any boat rockers it makes them look bad.

    My heart goes out to Chris and the Winfield family and any other honorable soldier and their families that find themselves in a situation like this.

  • JacFlasche

    T. Voyd wrote: To JacFlasche,

    Lets just dis-band our entire military and send them home and we’ll all just sit back and let you save us.

    Duped is unfairly used to describe all Veterans of an unjust war. If you,JacFlasche,knew there were no WMD’s in Iraq, then why didn’t you show up on the tarmack at Ft. Benning and prevent my aircraft from taking off.”
    Posted by T. Voyd, on September 23rd, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    These are really silly straw men you have set up. I guess that is because you actually don’t have an intelligent argument. I was obviously referring to unjust wars like Vietnam and Iraq the sequel, not the one where some foreign power sends troops to invade us, like we do to others. I sort of expect people to have the intelligence to be able to make such elementary distinctions. Obviously that isn’t always the case.

    I stand by my statement. There can be no honor in serving a dishonorable cause. No matter with what distinction it is served, or the fact that someone is unable to discern that it is dishonorable. Here’s a general rule to go by, If they haven’t attacked you, or even threatened to, don’t attack them.
    Our intelligence services and special ops did an outstanding job in Afghanistan both against the Russians with the taleban and with the norhtern alliance against the taleban. Both times they forged a real victory with minimal resources. But they did sort of ally themselves with the radical Muslims the first time, and a bunch of heroin dealers the second time. What would they have done if the Saudi’s who burned the towers had trained in Canada or Mexico, (actually part of their training was in Florida) attack Canada? What do we have to gain? Nothing, unless you are a mining company or somehow profiting from the war. What a ridiculous situation for our nation to put itself into. People in the US don’t care about improving the lives of the Afgans, anymore than they care about improving the lives of the people in Tannu Tuva or Timbuktwo. That’s their business.
    I think people will look back at our time in history and curse us for what we squandered and did with the resources and wealth we had, due to being just so dumb as we act.
    I am still waiting for the dark ages to end my friend. And despite your sarcasm I could do a better job of protecting and honoring our troops, and running our country than is being done. But this would be pretty simple and I think that a chimp with a dart board could do better too. At least in both cases we would be free of the evil plutocracy which has been f**king us one and all, up one side, and down the other for the past thirty years.

  • JacFlasche

    BHA wrote:

    “JacFlasche:

    I’m sorry, but I find your position that service in Vietnam was dishonorable offensive.” Posted by BHA, on September 23rd, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Yeah I never said that. Here’s the distinction between what I wrote and what you thought I wrote. Check it out. I wrote that the Vietnam War was dishonorable. I also wrote that honor cannot be found in a dishonorable cause. I did write:” I don’t know if he served with honor in Vietnam. I almost consider that an oxymoron because it was dishonorable to be there in the first place. I have much higher regard for those who chose prison or Canada, because they took the hard road of conscience.” which is in a way ambiguous, but let me make it clear that by “it was dishonorable to be there in the first place.” I mean for the USA to be there at war for the reasons our leaders gave. I know that many served there with distinction, as I mentioned about my friend’s experience. I consider the young men who were part of the war effort in Vietnam to be the victims of leaders who were just a bunch of a holes passing for competent. I also think they had every right then as they do now, not only to complain but to act upon the injustices that were done to them, but I think there is more of a chance that they will side with those who abused their trust, against those who would have spared them this injustice.

  • Sarah

    I was horrified to hear this report today and it brought me back to when my daughter was an exchange student in the mideast and she lived with an Iraqi refuge family in Jordan for a short period. They were traumatized and told her how the American soldiers raped and killed their neighbors. This and the kind of sick actions of Sgt. Gibbs and soldiers in his platoon must be stopped if we are to ever succeed in ending hatred of America and terrorism.
    Greg Mortenson is our best hope.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Those who claim that no one knew whether or not Iraq had wmds before the March 03 invasion are not correct. The IAEA and UN inspectors had done their job, had not found evidence of wmds, and had reported that Saddam had done his duty destroying his arsenal. All evidence after March 03 supports the conclusions made before March 03. I believed then and still believe today that wmds were a flimsy excuse for the invasion, and that no amount of evidence would have swayed Bush and co.

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    Some but not all veterans seem to have a profound sensitivity to criticism. They feel that criticism of the wars they have fought in is a slander on their sense of honor or patriotism. Other veterans understand that criticism of foreign policy and the questioning of motives for wars of dubious value are in fact meant as a shield for combat soldiers, for our military forces should only be asked to put their lives on the line when absolutely necessary. Honor, patriotism, and critical faculties are not mutually exclusive properties, not even in wartime–especially not in wartime, which is the time when those whose ideas of patriotism are particularly narrowly conceived feel it necessary to shut down the brain and the heart not only of soldiers but the citizenry.

    I wonder, sometimes, what kind of military would we have if it were not only all-voluntary, but provided no educational aid or indeed any salary at all beyond subsistence living? Preposterous, of course … but then we might finally have an army composed entirely of the absolute willing, i.e. those who want to serve their country for no other purpose, and not because they have no other hope of going to college or getting a job. You join the army, the army takes care of you, and that is that–no need for a family or a home or an education. It would, I think, be the ultimate honest militia. As I say, preposterous, and I do not advocate it in reality … just a thought experiment.

  • gina

    Joshua, your thought experiment of a subsistence-pay-only armed forces might result in a higher percentage of insane “warriors” like SSgt. Calvin Gibbs. Sociopaths know that a license to commit uniformed mayhem is not easy to come by stateside, so they might be content with a hospitable arena in which to terrorize, murder and collect body part trophies. Serving alongside the criminals would be those for whom a subsistence income is still better than no income. In other words, a sort of criminal and slave army, like an apocalyptic movie. Of course, some number actually motivated by sincere patriotism would still enlist, but fewer than if they were paid fairly.

    “You join the army, the army takes care of you, and that is that – no need for a family or a home or an education.”

    An army with no civilizing influences, no attachment to anything outside itself? What could possibly go wrong?

  • joshua

    What could possibly be wrong with my comments I posted? i spoke of honor. And you censor me. You truly are fascists when killing becomes honorable and speaking out against it is censored. We have multiple cases of sadistic murder in these wars and you have soldiers enlisting and claiming honor for wars that were clearly a lie and clearly imperialistic conquests–against International law and the Geneva convention, clearly in the spirit of world conquest, the same as nazi-germany, and these people claim honor–and anyone who speaks out is called un-american and a terrorist and censored like me–that is not honorable and many people did speak out–so T.Voyt’s claims of honor are inexcusable. I have a right to say that.

    if you censor me again–you only prove you are fascists and that any dissidence will not be tolerated by NPR, the media or the shadow government in power. Its unfortunate that my previous comments will not be read here. i only spoke of honor, commitment, and courage. The moral courage of winter soldiers. Shame, shame.

  • Peter

    Twice this week NPR has covered stories involving a whistle-blower who exposed criminal conduct (of a NYC police precinct captain, in the earlier instance) and was rewarded for his diligence by persecution from the government agency involved.

    No government higher-up wants to be held accountable when one of his subordinates commits criminal acts. The standard tactic is to discredit or prosecute the whistle-blower. The message sent: “If you don’t like what you see, close your eyes”.

    Psychopaths are people with no conscience, and they are not rare. I suspect they may find some attraction to the military. They are the ones who do not eat themselves up inside over the moral dilemma of “shoot first, stay alive”. It’s no more difficult than swatting a fly.

  • Gail

    The real shame here is that the army did not heed when the dad called over and over again. He had proof that his son was not involved–that Adam was being threatened with his life if he opened his mouth–and the army told him to be patient until deployment and then Adam would be separated from this “Golden Boy,” Gibbs. Gibbs is an individual with a criminal record of violence. This is an individual who should never have been put in a position of authority … or perhaps not the army at all.

    Yes, these are young men, but Gibbs is 25 … not a child … old enough to know right from wrong, but clearly a psychopath. Yes these are young men, but Adam is 22 yrs old–barely a man–cried out for help only to be ignored. Thank God his dad persisted … and thank God that he has a record of all their conversations, as well as phone records to the army … the very same army that ignored Adam’s cries for help.

  • Desiree

    Adam is fully innocent !! Please help supposrt him and his family as they try for justice ! This story is truely heartbreaking :(

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/I-support-Specialist-Adam-Winfield/135635699814125

  • William

    During my time in the service I worked with people that were guilty of rapes, drug dealing, assault, car theft, drug smuggling, breaking into homes and other general crimes. We knew it was difficult to “undo what 18 years of failed parents failed to do”. I do think then and now that there was and still is a lack of accountable with the officers leading these men.

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