Jesse Macbeth, formerly a Special Forces Ranger in Iraq, is now active with Iraq Veterans Against the War in Tacoma, Washington. The Rangers are elite units sent door-to-door in Iraq to combat the insurgency. They were also sent into Fallujah to crush all opposition to the occupation of that city. Justice recently interviewed Jesse.
How did you end up in the military?
I grew up on the streets. I got into trouble for fighting. The same judge that I'd been dealing with my whole life told me that I wouldn't have to do adult time if I signed up for the military immediately. Sometimes I kinda wish I went to jail instead.
How did you become a Special Forces Ranger?
Basic training was easy for me. Growing up on the streets, I was used to running from cops. I was used to not eating for days. I got picked to go to Ranger School.
What did your division do?
I was in the Third Ranger Battalion. Our job was to strike fear in the hearts of the Iraqi people.
We would go into people's houses and plow down entire families. We would interrogate people. If we didn't like the answers that they gave, then we would kill the youngest child. If they gave more answers that we didn't like, then we'd move on to the rest of the family. They could've been innocent people.
We would leave the bodies in the streets and blame it on the Shi'ites or the Sunnis. [In Fallujah] we were ordered to go into mosques and slaughter people while they were praying. I won't go into full detail because I'm still haunted by the memories.
What was the assault on Fallujah like?
Fallujah is where we slaughtered people in mosques. We provoked the people there. Some people escaped from the mosques and saw us. We would dig holes and leave mass graves of children, women, and old men. We were ordered to let people die on the street. We were told that the Geneva Convention means nothing to us in combat.
We were ordered to fire on peaceful protesters in Fallujah. Somebody threw a rock at us, and an officer said that he thought it was a grenade. Then we were ordered to fire. When it's daylight in Iraq, it's daylight! Nobody really thought it was a grenade.
What medals did you get in Iraq?
I got a lot. I got a purple heart. Half of them, I don't remember. I got five or six medals just for landing. I got a bronze star.
What injuries did you get?
I got stabbed many times. I got shrapnel in my knee. I got shot in the back.
What do you think is the role of the U.S. in Iraq?
The military is terrorists there. Soldiers thought we were going to fight terrorism, but we became the terrorists. We were told we were going to liberate the country and find weapons of mass destruction. The real aim is to have the U.S. own the country. The U.S. wants oil.
How has the government treated you since you got back?
Like shit. I hate them. I'm not gonna be a terrorist or anything, but I hate them. They killed my battle brothers. They used me. They messed me up. They didn't care about me. They turned me into a beast, a machine.
What Veteran's benefits have you gotten?
I ain't getting nothing. A card and that's it.
Where do you work?
I'm an Iraq vet, and I work at Wendy's.
How did you get involved in IVAW?
Veteran's Affairs told me they had no money for me. I always knew the war was fucked up, but that motivated me to say something about it. The government throws us away. They did the same thing after Vietnam.
Why do you think people should get involved in the antiwar movement?
Because it's gotta stop. Innocent people are getting killed. Bush says we have to stay the course and that it's hard work. Bush doesn't know what work is.
Anything else you want to say?
Yeah. The news here is controlled. The military lets information out that serves their purposes. We slaughtered a sovereign nation. Reporters got killed.
When I was growing up, everyone thought I'd be a criminal, but they were wrong. I'm gonna be one of the leaders of the revolution.