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“Operation First Casualty”: Outside Democratic Convention, Iraq Veterans Against the War Re-Enact Raids on Iraqi Civilians

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On the streets of Denver, outside the suites of the convention, Iraq Veterans Against the War organized a dramatic re-enactment of the raids they participated in while serving in Iraq. They called it “Operation First Casualty.” [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: We break with convention, from the suites to the streets of Denver, where Iraq Veterans Against the War organized a dramatic reenactment of the house raids they participated in while serving in Iraq. They called it “Operation First Casualty.” Democracy Now! was there to cover it.

    IRAQ VETERANS: Get back! Shut your [blank] mouth! Don’t move!

    UNIDENTIFIED: These are real Iraq veterans. These are not actors. They are demonstrating what happens every day. In Fallujah, Baghdad, everywhere all over Iraq, this is going on. We are service members and veterans.

    GEOFF MILLARD: My name is Geoff Millard. We’ve come here to the Democratic National Convention to bring a little bit of the reality of Iraq here to Denver to the DNC. We’re performing our guerrilla street theater called “Operation First Casualty,” or OFC, because the first casualty in war is truth, and we’re going to bring some of that truth here to Denver for the delegates to see.

    We’ve demanded a meeting with Obama, and if he can’t have a meeting, at least sign onto our three points of unity, which are immediate withdrawal of all occupying forces from Iraq, full care and benefits for veterans upon their return, and reparations for the Iraqi people.

    GARRETT REPPENHAGEN: Barack Obama has the courage to go overseas to go to Iraq into a war zone and see what’s going on there, but he doesn’t seem to have the courage to face our returning antiwar veterans and protesters here out on the street. So, it’s a shame that he’s still putting us in a “freedom cage” to have our First Amendment rights, when our First Amendment rights should be free from one border to the next.

    UNIDENTIFIED IRAQ VET: It’s intense. I mean, we’re recreating the same situations that we encountered in Iraq from time to time. The scenario on the ground in Iraq is very frustrating, it’s very confusing. You’re walking on foot patrols or in Humvees doing, you know, patrols through crowded urban areas, and you don’t know who’s out to hurt you or who’s not. And we really would like to recreate those things out here with our street scenarios and our guerrilla theater.

    IRAQ VETERANS: Incoming! We’ve got incoming! Hit the deck! Get some cover! Get some cover! Where is it at? Where’s it coming from? It’s coming from to our right! We’ve got ninety degrees on them! We can’t see them! We don’t have eyes on! We gotta move! Let’s go forward 200 meters! Go!

    UNIDENTIFIED IRAQ VET: Today was very interesting here at the DNC. People, at first, are confused. I heard several times that, you know, they thought the National Guard was detaining protesters. We have people that hand out fliers that explain our organization, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and what we do. And then, once they realize what they just saw was a guerrilla street theater of a reenactment of what happens in Iraq on a daily basis, we were actually getting a lot of supporters.

    UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I would hate two be in Iraq and have this happen to me.

    UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I’m loving seeing all the demonstrations and people’s opinions being freely talked about and exhibited. And these guys are real veterans, which I didn’t realize. So I think that’s great that they’re here doing something that is, first of all, art, I guess, and they said it’s street theater, so that’s pretty cool.

    GARRETT REPPENHAGEN: My name’s Garrett Reppenhagen, and I served as a sniper in the First Infantry Division. I was in Iraq from February ’04 to February ’05 in and around Baquba, doing sniper missions. And I turned against the war. I joined Iraq Veterans Against the War. And I’ve actually been in five out of six that we’ve done in major cities around the country, and this was by far our largest, here at the DNC.

    There’s more fear involved in — when you’re working in a foreign environment like that. You don’t understand the language. You don’t really know exactly what’s going on, what the customs are. So it’s pretty scary. Plus the actual element of being in danger is there. But once you get in that role and you start moving, sometimes all that comes back, and it’s — you know, most of us are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, and there’s a lot of triggers for that when you’re doing these operations, and that’s one of the difficulties of doing this.

    GEOFF MILLARD: America right now is sleeping, when it comes to the occupation of Iraq. America is not paying attention to the occupation. And if Iraq veterans have to come out here into the streets and do combat patrols to wake America up and to shock America a little bit, then we’re prepared to do that. Our oaths to this country didn’t end just because we got out of the military. To protect and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies foreign and domestic didn’t expire when I took off a combat uniform and put on a black T-shirt with white writing saying “Iraq Veterans Against the War.”

AMY GOODMAN: “Operation First Casualty” from Iraq Veterans Against the War here in Denver, produced by Elizabeth Press. IVAW has given Senator Obama a deadline of 3:00 p.m. to respond to their demands. They’ve also organized a concert with Rage Against the Machine this afternoon at the Denver Coliseum.

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