Meet Benji Lewis, 24–US army vet, and now, because of what he went through at Fallujah, a peace activist.Eva Golinger has a knack for finding all sorts of interesting things that the government of the US would undoubtedly prefer that we not know. She’s found evidence that USAID–supposedly an agency to aid development in underdeveloped countries–has actually been financing coupmongers (some of them extremely violent) in Venezuela and Bolivia. She found enough material for two books–or was it three?–just on Venezuela alone. Now she’s branched out; she interviewed two soldiers-turned-peace-activists recently, and here are some of the highlights from the piece she wrote for her blog and Venezuelanalysis:
This interview also appears in Spanish in the Correo del Orinoco, and at YVKE Mundial.Josh Simpson and Benji Lewis have also appeared on Venezuelan TV. Vanessa Davies, who hosts Contragolpe (“Counterpunch”, or in this case, “Counter-coup”) interviewed both of them. Josh’s interview can be seen here; Benji’s here. The videos are in Spanish and English. There’s some translation, but it’s not hard to get the gist of the questions being asked.What they have to say is great, and we all need to hear it–over and over and over again. What bugs me is that there seems to be more interest in what they have to say in Venezuela than back where they come from. What’s that saying again, about a prophet in his own land…?
EG: When did you go to Iraq, Josh?Josh: September 2004 to September 2005.EG: What did you think when you were going there?Josh: I was against the war but at the same time figured we already started the war and so should see it through and help the country rebuild. It was hard to think about. I was in charge of interrogations in Irak. And Source Operations, running sources to get information. I was in Mosul, Iraq. In Iraq, 95% of those detained and interrogated were innocent. The interrogations agitate the population against you. If they weren’t terrorists or insurgents when detained, they will be afterward! The reason why 95% are innocent and still detained is because the way to measure succes in Iraq, unlike in Vietnam where it was a body count, is based on the number of detainees. It doesn’t matter if they are women or children or innocent. I didn’t participate in physical torture and beat detainees. But I did participate in psychological torture.EG: But you knew torture took place?Josh: I saw the victims of the torture. The bruises and lashes all over their bodies came from somewhere. We would send the detainees to the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Militia that were working with us and they would do the torture for us. I had concerns about that especially because torture doesn’t work well for getting information.EG: Benji, you were in Fallujah during the Blackwater scandal?Benji: Right after. I was sent to Fallujah and there was excitement because it was right after the Blackwater scandal and we were on a mission of revenge. No one told us what had really happened except that US citizens had been killed by the Iraqi insurgents in Fallujah. So I was excited because I was going to be in a mortar unit and would be able to do what I was trained to do, we were going to utilize our mortars. We thought we were going to Fallujah to neutralize an insurrection, but they didn’t tell us that the entire city had already been bombed by the US for about a week and a third of the population was already displaced or dead. We were being told that this was a mission of revenge, we didn’t know they were Blackwater mercenaries that had been killed, we were told they were just US citizens. Several batallions of marines were unleashed on the city from every angle. It was a seige. There were thousands of us that assaulted Fallujah. We surrounded them and cut off their electricity and water, we bombed mosques.EG: The military wasn’t giving the soldiers any kind of information?Benji: Hearts and Minds is double rhetoric. You have to first control the hearts and minds of the troops committing these atrocities before sending them to war. You have to lie to them–otherwise you can’t fight these kinds of wars.