VCS Weekly Update: Torture Lawsuit; Iraq War Vets and Trauma

Update on Torture and the Geneva Conventions
Iraq War Vets Struggle with Trauma
Support Veterans for Common Sense
Upcoming Events

Update on Torture and the Geneva Conventions

The government responded to a joint ACLU / Veterans for Common Sense lawsuit this week by releasing 6,000 pages of documents related to prisoner abuse at abu Ghraib, GuantanamoBay and Afghanistan. The documents were released after a year-long Freedom of Information Request was blocked and denied by government agencies, until the courts ordered them to produce the documents.

A large number of documents are still being held, despite the court order, but progress is being made. You can view the list of released documents, including the previously secret annexes to the Taguba report, at:

We also recommend reading the recent report published by Christian Peacemaking Teams on detainees in Iraq. This report, which includes updates on the detainee situation in recent months, is available for download at:

We are making progress. Recently the House-Senate conference committee approved the Durbin Amendment intact. The Durbin Amendment re-asserts the requirement that the Pentagon and other agencies follow U.S. and international law, and requires the Secretary of Defense to regularly report to Congress on these issues. This is a major step forward, but not far enough.

Unfortunately, to date the highest ranking individual prosecuted has been an Army Staff Sergeant. In short, though several investigations have found that culpability for these issues went all the way to the office of the Secretary of Defense, the DoD has circled the wagons and is labeling the soldiers who carried out the policy as “bad-apples.”

This is not an acceptable outcome. It has become increasingly clear as further documents have been released that the push for aggressive interrogation techniques came not from sergeants in the field, but from civilians in the White House and the Pentagon. To court-martial all of the junior soldiers and ignore the command conditions turns “supporting the troops” upside down.

If you haven’t already signed the Honor the Legacy Petition, urging the President to adhere to international law, please do so now. These are the standards which not only protect innocent people, they also protect our troops. You can sign the Honor the Legacy petition at

Iraq War Vets Struggle with Trauma

As veterans of every American conflict since 1941, Veterans for Common Sense knows that sometimes the most serious wounds of war are the ones we don’t see. That’s because the natural response to seeing death and mayhem, to killing, or to having one’s friends die, is trauma. Though we’ve earned this hard earned knowledge over years of pain and work, it seems that in many areas, the military still has a long way to go in recognizing and caring for the wounds of service-members who come home from the battlefield with serious psychological injury.

Iraq War veterans are now, in greater and greater numbers, coming home and talking about their experiences. And in many cases, they aren’t getting the help they need. Supporting the troops doesn’t just mean waving yellow ribbons and cheering them in parades when they come home. It’s making sure they get the best possible readjustment counseling and treatment for their wounds. It means welcoming them home with open arms and not ignoring the severe spiritual harm caused by killing.

We recommend taking the time to read these few profiles and articles about veterans who’ve struggled with the trauma of war. Please read them, and consider what you can do to help Iraq War vets survive not just the war, but also coming home.

The Trials of Julian Goodrum
An Army Reserve Lieutenant served in the Iraq War and filed complaints about safety violations in his unit. Now he’s defending his freedom as the Army gears up a court-martial.

Iraq War Veteran’s Suicide – He was Swallowed by Pain
Lucey told his mother about his nightmares where faceless old people would run toward him asking for help, like the old couple in Nasiriyah he says he watched get shot in the back as they ran toward the shelter of their home. The nightmare came often, keeping Lucey up until three or four in the morning, until the last bottle of EKU-28 beer had run out, and he would finally fall asleep.

For some, battle goes on long after the shooting stops
Not all of America’s casualties in the war on terrorism are occurring in battle — suicide among returning soldiers is a growing concern

Is anyone ever truly prepared to kill?
One dark night in Iraq in February 1991, a U.S. Army tank unit opened fire on two trucks that barreled unexpectedly into its position along the Euphrates river. One was carrying fuel and burst into flames, and as men scattered from the burning trucks, the American soldiers shot them.

Support Veterans for Common Sense

Veterans for Common Sense is taking the lead in bringing the concerns of veterans to the public in the areas of national security, veterans health care, civil liberties, and energy policy. We need your involvement to ensure our continued success. Every dollar counts. Your contribution goes to support upcoming policy reports, our lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill, the continued growth of our website, the upcoming publication of the Guide for Returning Veterans, and many more programs. Please consider making a contribution today and help us reach our goal of $70,000 for 2004. You can make a contribution online:

or send a check to:

Veterans for Common Sense
1101 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE
Washington, DC20003

Once again, thank you for supporting the work of Veterans for Common Sense.

Upcoming Events

November 2, 2004

Election Day

November 11, 2004:

The Portland, Maine Veterans for Peace Chapter is seeking individuals from VCS to march with them in the annual Veterans Day parade. Interested in participating? Contact Jack Russell at or 207-772-1442.

Texas Chapters of Veterans for Peace are seeking individuals from VCS to join them in a special 02 October Rally in Austin, a 16 October rally in College Station, and an 11 November Veterans Day parade in Austin. Interested in participating? ContactDickUnderhill at or 512-238-1491.

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