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By now all of us have seen the horrible video that was released from wikileaks yesterday.

This video is now rightfully in the public sphere so that we can debate things such as: what happens when you start a war, rules of engagement, PTSD, military cover ups, etc...

This video affects me deeply on a personal level because it conjures up many painful emotions. I am writing this diary, in part, to give a perspective to those who are looking to understand, but also as a form of therapy for myself.

First, I want to explain some of the emotions and feeling that I went through in my tour in Afghanistan, and how they still affect me today. Then, I want to talk a little more about the video and the tendency to cover up these things.

If you are interested, follow below.

UPDATE: Thank you all very much for your comments. I welcome all perspectives. The discussion is needed.

When I went to Afghanistan, I was assigned to train, mentor, and advise a company of Afghan National Army troops. At the time, I believed in the mission, and supported the idea of helping Afghanistan return to a state of stability and peace that they had  ca. 1940-1974. I learned to speak, read, and write Dari, the Afghan dialect of Persian/Farsi, and I made a serious effort to be sensitive to Afghan and Muslim culture.

We spent the first 6 weeks in and around Kabul, which was very safe at the time, and I actually enjoyed it. I was learning a lot about Afghanistan history and culture. Then, they sent us to Kunar province along the Pakistan border.

In Kunar, my Afghan company and I were assigned to a Marine Battalion. Our mission tempo was very high, meaning the Marines used us like crazy, and we had enemy contact almost on a daily basis.

IEDs were the most dangerous threat, and they were a common occurrence. Several had killed ANA in my company, as well as Afghan Police and Marines on the roads that I used daily. They were impossible to spot, and this made driving a very nerve wracking process. The tension built up over time. Once I was driving in the front of a convoy, and drove right over an IED and never noticed it, nor did the 8-10 vehicles who went over it behind me. Luckily for me, the people firing the device wanted to hit a bigger target, a Marine vehicle farther along in the convoy--not so lucky for them, 4 were seriously injured, and 1 later died of his wounds.

When you are hit by an IED there is no fight. There is no opportunity to get the people who caused you this harm. Along with the constant feeling of fear, comes a deep seated hatred for those that are the cause of the stress. My mind went to very dark places, I wanted those people dead. I wanted to do it myself, up close. You may not understand these emotions, and I have difficulty today with them. Writing these words makes me very emotional. Even today I have violent visions for conflict resolution, both in my dreams and waking thoughts. I have envisioned doing horrible things to people--I have to deal with that constantly.

When we actually got into shooting engagements, this fear and hatred took control. I fired my machine gun, grenade launcher, or M4 with an anger that later horrified me. I became completely desensitized when several of my close Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded recovering the body of a Marine. After that, I felt euphoric in a fight, especially when we killed the enemy.

Once, when we were delivering a MEDCAP, which is a mission that involves medics treating people in a small village, we were attacked by a sniper. We had to abandon the mission, and many people wished we would just bomb the village. I have to admit that for a brief moment, I shared this feeling. Then, I began to think about it, and became horrified at what I was becoming. Luckily, I controlled these emotions and always chose my targets. I never fired on innocent people, but the urge was there. I wondered if they weren't pretending and in some way helping the other side.

So, when I look at this video, all of these emotions come out. In the initial engagement, I see the reporter round the corner with his camera and point it in the direction of the helicopter. With hindsight, we know that it is a camera, but 2 weapons can be clearly identified beforehand, an AK and an RPG, and the camera does look like a weapon, especially the way the cameraman manipulates it around the corner. It is probably safe to say that he was manipulating it to get a good "shot" in cameraman language, which is pretty hard to distinguish from getting a good shot in military language. The overall body language of the group was not aggressive, but in an insurgency that is not uncommon. I explain their callous comments afterwards to the euphoric feeling I expressed earlier.

So, I view that first part of the film as a tragic sequence that can only be avoided by not starting wars. Especially unnecessary wars. As long as there is war, there will be this kind of incident.

However, what happens when the van shows up is just damning. There is no excuse for lighting up the van the way they did. There are no two ways about it. There were no visible weapons or aggressive maneuvers by the people involved. This part sickens me and is just so depressing. I think of the emotions that I felt, and wonder how people, especially very young men and women, who have had more than one tour, feel. Through this war we have created a monster, but that is not what bothers me the most.

What bothers me the most is that the military tried to cover it up. These types of things need to be out in the open and addressed immediately by the people in charge. We MUST have a collective conscience, our entire society. We have to show everyone that this is unacceptable, and make efforts to prevent such things from happening again.

Often, people invoke, what I call the "Few Good Men Defense". They say things like "How dare you question the methods I use to protect this country". Well, I have been there too, and I not only question the methods, but the system in general. It is amazing to me that this video had to be leaked. If the military had just been open and addressed the issue publicly and definitively, they wouldn't create the feelings of anger toward all members of the military. Many who chose to do the right thing, and not fire on innocent people.

Many of the comments that I have read concerning service members here on Dkos over the last couple of days have been very painful to me. Partly because I know deep inside that we are somewhat deserving of them, but also because of all the people who signed up to serve their country, and will come home with so much emotional damage. Many of them do not share our values, and truly believed that they were going to fight to protect our freedom.

I just wish people would have mentioned that in the run up to our war. It is true that our casualties have been relatively low in these wars, but what about the emotional effects. No one mentioned that many of these young kids were going to have to deal with the after effects of killing.

In the end, those pilots and their command will have to come to grips with what they have done, hopefully through a fair court martial, and treatment. More importantly, the military and our society are going to have to come to grips with who we are.

Thanks for reading. I have to go out, but I will be back to respond later.

Originally posted to ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:25 AM PDT.

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    by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:25:17 AM PDT

  •  See this video (5+ / 0-)

    http://www.youtube.com/...

    There were British gun ships recording all this. I maintain that every last IRA mourner could gave been killed according to Current American ROE. The gunships recording this incident could have justifiably killed that mob. Agreed?  

    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:31:33 AM PDT

  •  thaank you (26+ / 0-)

    it would help if someone would edit the tape in some way so that civilians can see the weapons.

    as far as this:

    No one mentioned that many of these young kids were going to have to deal with the after effects of killing.

    lots of people mentioned this.  as the war began one of my mother's friends, in her eighties, just a regular american woman with little education or access to information said precisely this to me.

    the coverup is inevitable given the mindset of the military and the general cultural bent which is to justify whatever we do.

    i cannot be surprised in the least.

    Just say "No" to extreme capitalism.

    by fernan47 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:34:54 AM PDT

    •  Amplify... (4+ / 0-)

      "Lots of people mentioned this." [...that many of these young kids were going to have to deal with the after effects of killing.] True.

      And the Bush administration, neo-cons, right-wing media, and so-called "patriots" were doing everything they could to minimize, eclipse, and reject the entire spectrum of honest cost scenarios.

      "The most significant difference between now and a decade ago is the ... rapid erosion of spare capacities at critical segments of energy chains." Cheney, 2001

      by Akonitum on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:36:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for speaking up (12+ / 0-)

    Am too sensitive to read what you've written just now, but I will, and whatever it is, I will be interested in it.  

    Blessings to you.

    "Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money." --Michael Steele

    by MsGrin on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:36:00 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for this (29+ / 0-)

    and thank you for sharing your experiences with us. We don't get your perspective a lot as a society and you just gave a reasoned well thought out way of looking at what happens in war.

    Godspeed to you and yours and may your lessons be well heeded.

    Thanks

    Vb1

    You keep saying that it's not possible right now. Ya think, Captain Obvious? unspeakable to me in a Fry'd Daze diary

    by volleyboy1 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:36:52 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for writing this. Emotionally draining (30+ / 0-)

    is also brutally honest and we need to hear it. It also needs to be put out for the entire nation to know what we are doing to our soldiers. We also need to understand that yes, some, become inhuman in their behavior. They need to be punished and the world needs to know that too. But so many others do as you did and push back and we should not blanketly condemn the troops.

    The only thing you get from sitting on the fence is splinters in your ass. My Granddaddy!

    by SallyCat on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:37:06 AM PDT

  •  Thanks (22+ / 0-)

    Thanks for serving as our translator -- we need this type of dialogue to fairly judge the video.

    I hope many more folks read this.

  •  War is Hell. (21+ / 0-)

    And that's the funny thing about Hell - you check in, but you never check out.

    War should only be a last resort, for when the alternative is worse than Hell.

    Thank you for your service, Ranger, and thank you for your insight.

  •  Amen, Son!!! (16+ / 0-)

    The chickenshits who started these wars are beyond appalling in their cowardice and desecration of Honor, Integrity, and our American Military.
    Sadly, they are the ones who will never ever be called to account for their heinous deeds.
    Candles and cedar will be burning tonight for you and your buddies, burning for many nights to come.
    Blessings and some peace for you.

    Never walk into a public restroom while breathing through your mouth.

    by quityurkidding on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:41:46 AM PDT

  •  I agree with your assessment (12+ / 0-)

    When the cameraman peeked his camera around the corner, and the airman identified it as an RPG, I though that was a reasonable assessment.  The later attacks were unnecessary and gratuitous, in my opinion.

    Ancora Impara--Michelangelo

    by aravir on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:41:58 AM PDT

  •  What are the rules when it comes to (4+ / 0-)

    wounded enemies?  Are you required to let them escape in something other than a Red Cross marked vehicle?  There seems to be confusion among many of the military people discussing this.

  •  Thank you (14+ / 0-)

    for doing the difficult job of writing this diary to bring more understanding about that very disturbing video.

    "People who hate cats will come back as mice in their next life"...Faith Resnick

    by Ekaterin on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:45:07 AM PDT

  •  We joke a lot here about (37+ / 0-)

    "brave Keyboard Kommandos," but your work today on the keyboard took a great deal of courage and toughness.

    Deepest thanks for your courage on the field and afterwards, Ranger.  May peace grow in your soul.  

  •  Outstanding Diary (13+ / 0-)

    I've been thinking about this since the video was released.  Thank you for helping to put it in perspective.  

    We saw the news today, it frightened your mom, now all she does is pray. "Letters From Home", The Dropkick Murphys

    by evilrick on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:46:13 AM PDT

  •  what would the reporter be shooting at? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wide Awake in KY

    It is not clear from the video, but if they thought the cameraman was holding an RPG, what did they think he was shooting at? Clearly not at the helicopter, it was swinging around behind them and the cameraman was still shooting forward. Were there troops ahead of them?

    •  According to the investigation report (8+ / 0-)

      The camera, when recovered, had photos of an army vehicle approximately 100 meters away at an intersection.

      There were units on the ground in the area who had been taking sporadic fire for several hours.  The helicopters were there in support of those ground units.

      He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

      by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:07:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

        There were units on the ground in the area who had been taking sporadic fire for several hours.  The helicopters were there in support of those ground units.

        The editors of the wikileaks video seem to have left that part out.

        I wonder if they are graduates of the James O'Keefe school of journalism, perhaps?

        Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

        by drewfromct on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:26:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Where did you think (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joesig, jrooth, subtropolis, quotemstr, JesseCW

          the ground units appeared from, in the video?

          Also, the cockpit voice made it quite clear that the gunships were clearing the way for approaching ground units.

          O'Keefe school journalists would have ensured not only that they didn't comment on anything that didn't fit the chosen narrative, but that it didn't appear at all in the video.

          In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

          by sullivanst on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:43:48 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That part of the radio recordings (0+ / 0-)

            Also, the cockpit voice made it quite clear that the gunships were clearing the way for approaching ground units.

            comes into the video after the shootings. I saw nothing in the video that offered any context whatsoever as to what was occurring in the area prior to the death of the journalists. As shown, the video could easily be taken as giving the impression that the chopper pilots were simply randomly targeting any armed individuals they could find. And that's due to the editing, which can only have been deliberate.

            Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

            by drewfromct on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:49:41 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Oh bullshit (5+ / 0-)

              And that's due to the editing, which can only have been deliberate.

              WikiLeaks published the full 38 minute video right there on the same page as they published the 17 minutes that had the action.

              See for yourself.

              He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

              by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:38:37 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I did (0+ / 0-)

                See for yourself.

                The long version starts a minute or so earlier than the short one. Again, there is nothing said or revealed about previous events leading up to the incident, especially not about "hours" of sporadic sniper fire. It's like coming into an action movie halfway through.

                Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                by drewfromct on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:19:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Well blame the Army for editing then (3+ / 0-)

                  Wikileaks published everything they had.  Your allegation that they deliberately edited it to hide the preceding events is pure unadulterated bullshit.

                  He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

                  by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:35:10 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You're wrong (0+ / 0-)

                    the widely-seen short version of the wiki vid said nothing at all about the events leading up to the incident, and leaving those facts out was just as deliberate of a decision as it was to edit it for time, use graphics to point out the locations of the kids, and to show sympathetic portraits of the unlucky reporters. If the editors could have taken the trouble to mention that those who were killed were innocent, why couldn't they also make the same effort to determine why and how they became mistaken for combatants?

                    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                    by drewfromct on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:42:46 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  OK, let's start over (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      jrooth

                      You know the people the Marines in the helicopter are talking to? Some of them are down there on the ground. In the video, it's quite obvious that they are nearby. Also, that the helicopters are supporting their mission. Hint #1 would be the part where they are describing to each other the target for confirmation.

                    •  No, You are wrong. (0+ / 0-)

                      You said:

                      As shown, the video could easily be taken as giving the impression that the chopper pilots were simply randomly targeting any armed individuals they could find. And that's due to the editing, which can only have been deliberate.

                      (emphasis mine)

                      That statement is simply false.  WikiLeaks published the full 38 minute video right there in the same place they published the 17 minute version.  You admit you've seen it and you don't dispute that it's the full unedited tape.  Yet you continue to defend your claim that WikiLeaks deliberately edited the tape to somehow conceal the prior events.

                      I can see no way the publication of the entire tape can comport with your statement "And that's due to the editing, which can only have been deliberate."  An unedited tape is distorted by the editing?  Really?

                      And this is all before even getting to the fact that the tape as published contains multiple exchanges with troops on the ground.  Something which an O'Keefe (your reference again) would surely have edited out.

                      He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

                      by jrooth on Wed Apr 07, 2010 at 06:43:26 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Go back and read the thread (0+ / 0-)

                        the text you blockqoute from came from a comment I made before you added the link to the unedited video.

                        You yourself made the first reference to the fact that the ground troops were under fire--something that the editors and presenters of the video never made mention of. Even though they could (and should) have. Period. And that is the whole of my point. Thank you very much.

                        Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                        by drewfromct on Wed Apr 07, 2010 at 06:13:56 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Nice try (0+ / 0-)

                          but your problem is I actually have read the thread, and after I directed your attention to the long version of the video (which is everything WikiLeaks had in terms of video and which was published from the get-go) you said:

                          The long version starts a minute or so earlier than the short one. Again, there is nothing said or revealed about previous events leading up to the incident, especially not about "hours" of sporadic sniper fire. It's like coming into an action movie halfway through.

                          and yet you still go on to complain:

                          the widely-seen short version of the wiki vid said nothing at all about the events leading up to the incident, and leaving those facts out was just as deliberate of a decision as it was to edit it for time, use graphics to point out the locations of the kids, and to show sympathetic portraits of the unlucky reporters.

                          So you see, you continued to claim that the video had been edited to remove references to earlier action even after admitting that the longer video only had an extra minute at the front which added nothing to that question.

                          And once again, I point out that both short and long versions of the video contain multiple exchanges with the troops on the ground that you are claiming WikiLeaks tried to conceal.

                          What it boils down to is that you are smearing WikiLeaks as the equivalent if O'Keefe, simply because they didn't add in all the editorial content you think they should have, and even though O'Keefe actually doctored his videos whilst WikiLeaks published the full unedited video.

                          He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

                          by jrooth on Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 05:19:42 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Back to the beginning: (0+ / 0-)

                            You were the one who wrote:

                            According to the investigation report

                            The camera, when recovered, had photos of an army vehicle approximately 100 meters away at an intersection.

                            There were units on the ground in the area who had been taking sporadic fire for several hours.  The helicopters were there in support of those ground units.

                            Check the bold:"According to the investigation report", not: "According to wikileaks". Wikileaks released a video that someone went to the trouble of editing to add graphics and touching, sympathetic portraits of the victims, but made no such effort to explain to confused viewers the circumstance--which you yourself did take the trouble to point out--which led to the Apache pilots seeing armed men in the vicinity of U.S. troops.

                            So you see, you continued to claim that the video had been edited to remove references to earlier action even after admitting that the longer video only had an extra minute at the front which added nothing to that question.

                            No, I didn't.I never said that wikileaks removed anything. My point was and still is, that wikileaks chose not to include information which could have helped to explain to confused viewers how a few reporters who happened to have armed guards were mistaken for hostile insurgents, while they did choose to add other information. Again, if they took the trouble to add graphics pointing out weapons and bodies, they could have just as easily added  other content that would have clarified the situation. But, they didn't.

                            Why?

                            Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

                            by drewfromct on Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 06:37:01 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  I just watched the video again (4+ / 0-)

              and the only mention of picking up weapons is this:

              Bushmaster, Crazyhorse.  We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly uh picking up bodies and weapons.

              (emphasis mine)

              But at that time in the video, the van is just approaching the scene - nobody has got out to do anything.  And in the subsequent period all the way up to where they open fire, there's a clear view of them and the only thing they pick up is the wounded photographer.  There's no weapon in sight at all, let alone any being picked up.  The audio also confirms that all they see being picked up is the wounded man.

              He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

              by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:07:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oops, Posted this in reply to wrong comment. nt (0+ / 0-)

                He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

                by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:11:25 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Before the IA caucuses in 2000, I bet someone (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  truong son traveler, SteelerGrrl

                  that if Bush were elected he would find a way to invade Iraq. That was before he picked Cheney and 9-11. WAR totally sucks and neither Afghanistan or Iraq were justifiable. Where was the GOTV in 2000? Where was the demand for a "war tax", like LBJ's sur tax? Where was the demand for a draft?

                  The pilots were observing by 'eyeball' with a much wider range of vision than the camera.

                  Interesting links here:

                  http://www.dailykos.com/...

                  Also, when the area was deemed 'secure' a medic was sent to the scene. And we have no clue as to why the injured kids were sent to the Iraqi hospital. Was it triage? The military hospital was already maxed with incoming wounded and the Iraqi hospital was not?

                  And where is the outcry now to get out of Afghanistan. Oh, right if Obama does it, it's okay.
                  Do you know how difficult it is to find reporting from OIF and OEF now? Or how hard it has been for years?

                  "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

                  by deMemedeMedia on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:30:20 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Give me a break... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW

            Are you defending the indefensible?  Shooting at a bus that was collecting the wounded? Even if they had not noticed the 2  children inside, that is totally indefensible and can not be justified.   It is a war crime.

        •  That's some pretty bad false equivalency n/t (6+ / 0-)

          If you're reading this, that means I've broken my New Year's resolution.

          by Lost Left Coaster on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:48:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  how convenient... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nicta, Blue Wind, sephius1, JesseCW

        the RPG that turned out to be a camera was actually an "enemy combatant camera"... I call bullshit.

      •  Yeah, but even barring that the ROE (19+ / 0-)

        gives pretty wide lattitude to engage threats.  IMO, that lattitude is a must-have for the guys and gals doing the fighting.

        I've spent almost 3 decades in uniform - with a prety big break in service during which time I was an EMT.  I can guarantee that when you've been soaked in somebody else's blood and brain matter you get pretty callous.  That's not a crime.  These guys were doing their jobs.  They made a couple of extremely critical mistakes, and a lot of innocent people were killed.

        I've said in other threads on this topic that much of what the aircrews did was simply stupid.  From the evidence available nothing they did, with the possible exception of attacking the van, was criminal.  And frankly, as stupid and needless as that was I'm not sure even that counts.

        My thinking is the same as Ranger995's:  The crime was in the cover-up.  Mistakes happen, sometimes with horrid consequences.  Sometimes the mistakes are the result of criminal negligence.  Sometimes it's just a mistake.  Either way, the cover-up was the problem.  It was also unneeded.

        One other point:  I've seen too many comparisons of this to My Lai and other incidents.  Those comparisons are total bullshit.  Anybody making them should be ashamed.  The men and women fighting these wars are doing their absolute best, under some pretty damned horrendous circumstances.  It's a safe bet that 99.9% of them always try to do the right thing, even when the right thing is hidden from them.

        "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Ben Franklin

        by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:38:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  How many Iraqi civilians have been killed? (3+ / 0-)

          Hundreds of thousands. This is exactly how it had happened time and again.

          the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

          by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:42:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't disagree with those numbers, but what's (0+ / 0-)

            your point?

            "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Ben Franklin

            by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:44:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Crap. I Hit "POST" before finishing.... (0+ / 0-)

              I meant to ask, is the point that the ROE are the problem, are is it your sense that the folks on the ground are somehow responsible?

              "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Ben Franklin

              by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:46:19 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Morally if not legally (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                An Affirming Flame, JesseCW

                Yes. Many will not be able to live with the evil they are caught up in. The ROE doesn't appear to work very well either. By design or flaw it dies matter much.

                the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

                by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:19:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The ROE may be flawed, but they're designed with (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  subtropolis

                  the conflicting goals of keeping our troops alive while minimizing non-combatant deaths.  Doesn't always work out that way.  Since we've been fighting wars since before Ogg stole fire from Oog, I don't see them getting better anytime soon.

                  As for your contention that the folks on the ground are morally responsible for the civilian deaths in this war:  The kindest thing I can say is that you have a lot to learn.  Will you be going to the airport to spit on returning vets?

                  "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Ben Franklin

                  by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:42:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  And there we see what cowardice really is. (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    NearlyNormal, gzodik

                    Will you be going to the airport to spit on returning vets?

                    Can't win an argument....resort to a Rush Limbaugh line and try to shut down legitimate debate.

                    Satrap Wanted. Lawless Central Asian region needs firm hand. Compensation paid in Opium, or an equal weight in Catamites. Must stay bought!

                    by JesseCW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:03:00 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Ummm.... There's no argument. Anybody who thinks (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      subtropolis, 3CPO

                      that all American soldiers are morally responsible for war, can't be reasoned with.  There is no "legitimate debate" to be had, since that sort of viewpoint is as extreme as, well... as extreme as Rush Limbaugh.

                      Now take your sanctimony out on somebody else.

                      "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Ben Franklin

                      by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 05:44:12 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Of course you are responsible when you pull the (0+ / 0-)

                        Fucking  trigger.  That's the first lesson every squaddie learns in weapons training. You have to account for every fucking round you fire.  

                        the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

                        by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 06:56:48 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  Probably not. (0+ / 0-)

                    Like I said: they are the ones who'll have to live with the their nightmares and what they have personally done.  

                    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

                    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:43:25 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

        •  I was thinking all through watching it (14+ / 0-)

          of the comments that MacChrystal made about checkpoint shootings, and how the experience of our troops inevitably makes them suspicious of locals, and extremely prone to misinterpreting innocent but unexpected behavior as being hostile.

          The only way to avoid this kind of incident is not to be at war. The decaying media has been too long complicit in constructing the myth of smart bombs and magic bullets that only kill bad guys. Our leaders need to admit the simple truth that you can't fight wars without killing civilians, and this is very much more the case when your enemy hangs out in urban areas wearing civilian clothes.

          In America, 60% of bankruptcies are because of medical bills, and 80% of those people had health insurance

          by sullivanst on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:52:34 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Would the coverup orders extend down to the (0+ / 0-)

          ground and air unit personnel?

          If so, they would be prevented from discussiing the incident, increasing the chances that they would end up psychological victims of it as well.

          It is the civilian and military leadership that are the problem here, beyond the brutal facts of any war.

          The last dog-whistle has died. What we have now is like blowing a train whistle and then saying "oh sorry, I was just trying to call my dog".

          by Into The Woods on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:56:04 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Eh, most of those who participated (0+ / 0-)

          in the My Lai massacre were "doing their absolute best under some damned horrendous circumstances".

          Their best was just pretty damned pathetic - kinda like "the best" of the asshole whith an itchy trigger finger who lit up this van.

          Satrap Wanted. Lawless Central Asian region needs firm hand. Compensation paid in Opium, or an equal weight in Catamites. Must stay bought!

          by JesseCW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:01:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Which investigation report? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nicta, Blue Wind, Conure

        The military's investigation? I'm pretty sure that this video footage calls the veracity of that investigation into doubt.

        If you're reading this, that means I've broken my New Year's resolution.

        by Lost Left Coaster on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:49:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It'd data (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, IndieGuy

          I'm not insisting that the investigation report is the final word.  I'm merely relating what it says.

          That said, I think one can work from the presumption that the JAG in charge would probably not actively falsify information, although he might very likely be inclined to shade things in the most favorable light he could.

          I've only skimmed parts of the report, so I'm still uncertain how much of that there may be.  But I'm inclined to believe factual declarations like that he viewed the photos in the camera and among them were pictures of a military vehicle approx. 100 meters away.

          He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

          by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:14:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  what does that mean? (0+ / 0-)

            "he viewed the photos in the camera and among them were pictures of a military vehicle approx. 100 meters away."

            The Reuters photographer was working in concert with the insurgents?

            •  I don't know if the other guys were insurgents (0+ / 0-)

              Although there is clearly one guy with an AK and another who appears to be carrying an RPG. I'm not completely sure that's what it is, but it sure looks like one.

              But the only point I was making about the pictures in the camera is that the photographer took pictures of an army vehicle in the immediate area, which means it's true that there were ground troops in the immediate area.  It therefore follows that believing those troops could be in danger was not unreasonable.

              He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

              by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:18:28 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  believing troops could be in danger... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                NearlyNormal

                is probably never an unreasonable belief...

                which leads to stuff like this.

                •  Well ... remember ... (0+ / 0-)

                  This part of the discussion started with this comment which asks what they could have thought the "RPG" (actually camera) was shooting at.

                  Given that there were pictures of an army vehicle in the camera, it's not unreasonable to conclude that that's what they thought the guy with the "RPG" was shooting at.

                  To me, this makes the initial engagement an all too ordinary tragedy of war.  Not a matter of wrongdoing on the part of the soldiers.

                  Firing on the guys from the van, on the other hand, sure looks like a crime to me.

                  He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

                  by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:47:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  Bradleys. (11+ / 0-)

      I had read that there had been an engagement shortly before the start of the video (not moments but some short time frame).  Apparently there were Bradleys a short distance down the road.  In that case you can view the gunship as an extension of the ground force.  If that was an RPG then the gunship would be protecting the ground forces.

      It is hard to watch the clip with any degree of neutrality.  When we watch it we know that there are civilians and photogs there.  We know that the equipment protruding around the corner is the lens of the camera and not the end of a weapon.  It situ I would say those things would be difficult at best to know.

      "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

      by newfie on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:33:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Did they know it was a reporter? (0+ / 0-)

      Or did they think it was an EC shooting video for propaganda?

      "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

      by Boisepoet on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:11:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your service. (6+ / 0-)

    One question:

    Why couldn't those troops in the helicopter called in ground forces to investigate and stood back to assist in the event of a firefight?

    It was pretty obvious from the way they justified the first rounds, to the way he begged the reporter to grab a gun, to the way he justified killing those trying to assist that the troops were looking for a reason to shoot.

    Is this SOP or just a couple guys who had been in the fight too long and wanted revenge?

    Which is good news for John McCain.

    by AppleP on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:50:28 AM PDT

  •  Vietnam all over again (14+ / 0-)

    My brother was in Nam.  He doesn't like to talk about it much... it is still hard on him.  I do recall him saying once how children were used to bring bombs inside baskets up to soldier like it was a gift.  The soldier would open the basket and would kill the soldier and the child.  He said things like that would make you distrust anyone, no matter what they looked like or how the acted.  What I saw in the film was horrifying.  It should not have happened.  However, I can understand what the diarist is saying and how the constant stress can make soldiers see something that is not real.  This war should never have started.

    The struggle of today, is not altogether for today--it is for a vast future also. - Lincoln

    by estamm on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:54:36 AM PDT

    •  it shouldn't have started... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pesto, ranger995, Cassandra Waites

      and it shouldn't keep going.  It will never end on it's own - it is it's own justification.

    •  WW2 Vets too (6+ / 0-)

      My grandfather, who died in 1982, was a veteran of WW2 and never liked to talk about it. He mentioned, in passing, that he'd been in the Battle of the Bulge (helluva thing to mention in passing!) but never went into details.

      It was only with my grandmother's death a couple months ago that I and my siblings and cousins even found out where grandpa had been, and what he'd done--he'd served in Europe from 1943-45 in the Army's 24th Bomb Disposal Squadron, according to several photos we found we were beginning to go through grandma's things before her funeral.

      I hope to find out more by researching grandpa's unit in the future, but I will always regret I did not get a first person account.

      Bail out Studebaker.

      by AustinCynic on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:36:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There was really an RPG? (4+ / 0-)

    I mean, that was confirmed?

    If so, that makes all the difference. A bodyguard for journalists could reasonably have an AK. Not an RPG.

    It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

    by Fishgrease on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:55:39 AM PDT

    •  If this isn't an RPG it looks a hell of alot (8+ / 0-)

      like one.

      •  please no auto play stuff (6+ / 0-)

        dial up people get slowed down.

        Chance favors the prepared mind

        by tlemon on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:03:22 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sure as shit! (5+ / 0-)

        That changes everything, as far as I'm concerned. Not saying these guys were insurgents. Just that an RPG is a stupid thing for "innocents" to carry.

        It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

        by Fishgrease on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:11:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Or body guards for the camera crew? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          chuckvw

          Again however look at the video I linked too. The different responce of commanders and soldiers is why Northern Ireland is quiet and Iraq is loud. Most of the mob dragging the two soldiers to be tortured and murdered were Terrorist suspects already... Many were also armed. If everything that moves in Iraq is killed you get an insurgency and 4000 + dead of your own countrymen and the disgust of the civilized world.

          the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

          by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:19:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  With an RPG? nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishgrease
            •  Why not. (0+ / 0-)

              The aks alone justified the slaughter according to ROE. Body guards carry grenades. I've seen a few with the m16 launch attachment m260 or something. It's a close support weapon and very versatile for targets behind cover.

              the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

              by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:34:00 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  While I concur (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Fishgrease

            with your assessment of the actions of the Brits in this instance I don't think the 2 scenarios are quite equivalent.  In the killing of the journalist there was a recent engagement in the vicinity.  There were open weapons - particularly the RPG that Shift18 links to.  In the funeral processions there were none that I saw - at least openly brandished and while the scene was violent there was no doubt whatsoever that opening fire would harm civilians - not only innocent bystanders but also ones who are breaking the law.  

            So it is difficult to compare the two scenes in all but a cursory manner for me.

            "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

            by newfie on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:39:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The guy on the car with the tire iron (0+ / 0-)

              Was Gerry Adams cheif of security. He's suspected of multiple homicides. Dued of cancer in 2000. The attackers were the elite of the IRA at the time. Also the soldiers were driven off in a taxi, beaten, impaled on a fence and shot repeatedly. All caught on camera. This video is only half what happened. The gunship could have blown every last member of tha mob away.

              the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

              by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:57:29 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I get that part. (0+ / 0-)

                But still the scenarios are not the same so it is hard to compare the restraint showed in the instance of witnessing a crime (murder) and a questionable incident at or near the scene of an active engagement.  Not to take anything away for the dangerous atmosphere of Belfast in the 70's.

                "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

                by newfie on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:02:01 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  The mourners were IRA officers. (0+ / 0-)

                  They were not civilians.  They were activly involved in killing two Soldiers with their bear hands Bundling them into a taxi driven by an IRA officer dragging them to a nearby field and shooting them. That's combat too.  

                  the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

                  by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:06:00 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  Typically one gets dragged into a side issue (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Wide Awake in KY

            But yeah why not? Body guards are known to carry grenades and heavy weapons. I've seen Karzai surrounded by bodyguards and they are carting more than M4 carbines.   Side issue anyway. The minivan, the minivan, the minivan.

            the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

            by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:53:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No. Bodyguards have no business with RPGs (0+ / 0-)

              That RPG completely removes "murder" as an accurate description, and inserts "mistake".

              It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

              by Fishgrease on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:02:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Or a tripod. (3+ / 0-)

                Or a boom. Side issue, and then there's the minivan the minivan the minivan.

                the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

                by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:08:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Could be a tripod indeed (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  AllisonInSeattle

                  It could be a tripod with the legs extended, but brought back together. The big tele carried by the photog is very heavy and needs support; also you need a heavy tripod for stability.

                  A "centrist" is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

                  by nicta on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:17:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  These were trained soldiers. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ms scarlett leadpipe

                  And that's not a tripod. That's an RPG. It changes everything. Yes, even the the minivan the minivan the minivan.

                  It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                  by Fishgrease on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:17:51 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Admittedly Ive only seen this lo res (3+ / 0-)

                    Indeed it justifies the war itself. When they screamed he's got an RPG they were looking at a cameraman getting a picture. That is not a gun crew down there. Nothing in their demeanor suggests that they are to me anyway. Two out of shape reporters and some bodyguards. They are casually out in the open escorting some  middle aged men with camera bags and micropone equipment. That's what I see. The pilots wanted to see a gun crew training their sites on tanks.    

                    the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

                    by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:29:29 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  We shouldn't have been there. (0+ / 0-)

                      It was a disgusting, useless war.

                      But soldiers exist to kill people. They're good at it. I'm not certain I even have a place to comment. The same technology that allows our soldiers to survive makes it appear obscene to those of us who don't normally have fuckers trying to kill us before breakfast.

                      When the story first broke, it was that one of the men had an AK. Nothing was mentioned about the RPG. For me, it makes a difference.

                      It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                      by Fishgrease on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:38:53 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  While it's clear by how you keep (3+ / 0-)

                        repeating your newfound mantra that you've found a talisman that makes all right in your world and that you're not about to let go of it -

                        Whether or not one of these guys had an RPG has nothing at all to do with whether gunning down unarmed civilians picking up the wounded was ok.

                        Satrap Wanted. Lawless Central Asian region needs firm hand. Compensation paid in Opium, or an equal weight in Catamites. Must stay bought!

                        by JesseCW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:12:09 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I DID NOT say it was ok! (0+ / 0-)

                          It was horrible!

                          You can't misquote me when what I've actually said is right here on this page.

                          Do you really think that if they'd seen those kids in that van, they would have still shot it up?

                          Do you? Do you think our military folks are monsters?

                          It rubs the loofah on its skin or else it gets the falafel again.

                          by Fishgrease on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:44:22 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

        •  the snuff video is shocking (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Fishgrease, agent, IndieGuy

          but to call these soldiers murderers for shooting at a group of people armed with 1 RPG is bizarre.

          The soldiers did nothing more then what is expected of them.

        •  Really? Shooting into a van picking up the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          NYFM

          wounded is ok because one of the people killed earlier had an RPG?

          Satrap Wanted. Lawless Central Asian region needs firm hand. Compensation paid in Opium, or an equal weight in Catamites. Must stay bought!

          by JesseCW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:08:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  oh yes, the "lone RPG." (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        truong son traveler

        How many times have we read about cops planting a gun near people they've shot too hastily?  At this point, with the coverup, I'm not even willing to believe there ever was an RPG in the hands of this person.  And this was described as a "firefight."  Isn't a firefight 2 sides firing at each other?  At what point, ever, were the helicopters in danger?
        How far away were the helicopters?  The people on the ground seem indifferent to them.  

        "There's been a little complication with my complication"

        by dash888 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:12:37 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Does one hold a loaded RPG that way? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        itsbenj

        He's clearly leaning on it, putting his hand on top of what would be the explosive head at the end of the sequence.

        While the objects looks like it could be an RPG (along with a dozen other things), the person holding it sure doesn't behave as if it was an explosive device ready to go off in a pinch.

        A "centrist" is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

        by nicta on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:11:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's not really "ready to go off in a pinch" (0+ / 0-)

          It has to be armed then fired.  Again, this is all easy to talk about when you've not been given the job of protecting your fellow soldiers who are in the area and you're not a trained killer in a combat zone.

          "Kindly go render the fat in your head in a large kettle of boiling water. Thank you." - Bumblebums

          by balancedscales on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:11:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'd try not to lean on a weapon (4+ / 0-)

            I had in my hands. Most of the time I've seen these weapons slung over backs wrapped in sack cloth. That or the weapon is at the ready. After action reports... Which are doctorable as we have seen in Afghanistan with knife gouges... Indicate there were heavy weapons found on site. Personally I find the death toll here to be counter productive for winning hearts and minds. And if this is allowed pretty much any slaughter goes.

            the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

            by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:23:47 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Enough with the spin (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JesseCW

             Again, this is all easy to talk about when you've not been given the job of protecting your fellow soldiers who are in the area and you're not a trained killer in a combat zone.

            How is that relevant to my post?

            A "centrist" is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

            by nicta on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:25:44 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  According to the investigation report (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Fishgrease, balancedscales

      There was.

      There's a link to the investigation report in this diary.

      He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

      by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:18:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for your service & expert commentary. (12+ / 0-)

    Informed commentary from someone who has been there is worth far more than all the babbling of a thousand 'armchair warriors'. This is genuine expert opinion, and should be treated as such.

    This kind of perspective should be required reading for anyone lashing out at the military for this event. And it should be understood that counter-insurgency warfare essentially guarantees just such tragedies. For insurgents hiding amongst the general population, "it's a feature, not a bug", as it drives more folks into their arms.

    •  I agree that this is a good diary (4+ / 0-)

      But I've been hearing "expert" commentary since I went in the service in 1969. The experts have got us in more shit than not in my experience.

      And, although even people on this site frequently forget it, the "armchair warriors" are supposed to be in charge.  The government and we civilians are actually not supposed to automatically defer to the military as we have for the past 40 years... and still do...

      It's clear that the ROE were shoot first and ask questions later.  And not just from this video. Nor should we forget that there were lots of armed people in New Sadr City in 2007.  There was factional fighting as well as resistance to a brutal foreign occupation.

      If this were a combat situation, why were only two of the 14 killed purportedly armed?  Why were they so relaxed when they knew full well that two Apache helicopters were hovering nearby?  There's a lot hinky about this story, including the fact that the story changed several times after the brass realized that someone important had been "lit up".  Journalists, after all, are honorary white people...

      www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

      by chuckvw on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:56:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not using your definition of expert. (0+ / 0-)

        By "expert" I don't mean a General laden with medals and ribbons in front of a Congressional committee arguing that he can see a "light at the end of the tunnel". We all know how such "expert opinion" has too often turned out to be 100% bullshit.

        By "expert" I mean people with genuine combat experience in urban warfare. Not a Major back at the base watching drone video, but the NCO humping 80 lbs. of body armor in 115° heat. The people who can explain why urban warfare is such a bitch, and therefore why the Iraqi fiasco was a terrible idea before it even started.

        •  I agree with this (0+ / 0-)

          (T)he Iraqi fiasco was a terrible idea before it even started...

          I disagree with you somewhat when you imply that the opinions of people who have not done a foot patrol in Ramadi are mere "babbling"...  As you know, the vast majority of Americans have never been in the military and a plurality of folks in the military will never participate in combat. They are nevertheless allowed to have opinions.

          I think this is a great diary and I would encourage the diarist to write a book about his experiences.

          www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

          by chuckvw on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:41:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  There's a reason one of the most (2+ / 0-)

      valid criticisms of going into Iraq in the first place was "urban warfare".  It is not two "armies" marching at each other in a field, like in "Braveheart" (although I think that is what war needs to return to).  It is hiding, and deception, and with our more advanced "technology" and knowledge comes a more advanced propensity for cunning and cheating.

      This is the kind of thing that happens when one military towers over all others as we do.  Since they can not beat us with the size of their weapons, sneak attacks, IED's, and other methods are employed.

  •  Hey buddy, thanks for this (9+ / 0-)

    and I sort of can imagine the pain which you experience.  My father was a WWII vet, (yes, that long ago and I was a late child) and after that war there was really very little in terms of treatments for vets.  His experiencea haunted him until his death, just a few years ago.  And it caused a lot of unneeded episodes and tensions in our family too much of the time.
    So please, if you can, do your best, to somehow find a peace within yourself.  You did a valiant and most honorable deed by choosing to serve our country.  And things definitely become scrambled and foreboding with a war. But you deserve to find a place where this pain will stop haunting.
    Thanks again for your service, and may military services be much more kind and helpful for you than they were for my father.  Please do all you possibly can to return to some sort of place of your balance before this war experinece.
    All the best.  

  •  Thank You. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drewfromct, alexa100, ardyess

    When I saw the shot of the camera around the corner of the building, I could see why the soldiers in the helicopter were nervous.

    •  They were out of range of the helicopter, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wamsutta, greeseyparrot

      even if had been an RPG.

      Mowing down a group of people in a crowded residential neighborhood with poor visibility from over a mile away of what is actually going on is abominable.

      •  I think (3+ / 0-)

        if you view the gunship as an extension of the ground forces then they were within range.  To me this makes SOME of the actions justifiable - albeit it not appropriate.  Up until the firing on the good samaritans and the wounded individual, i think that the action was misfortunate but understandable.

        "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

        by newfie on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:43:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  great diary (7+ / 0-)

    this was my reaction when i heard of the video: things like this are what will always happen when you launch into a war. So make sure it's worth it before you do.

    I've never served so can only comment as an observer. But I can so imagine that after months in a place things like this would start to make sense to people. War harms everyone involved. I have no idea how I'd react after say 9 months in theater. It's sad we've been so cavalier about launching them.

    I hear gardening is a nice hobby.

    by SeanF on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:59:26 AM PDT

  •  I wish I could rec this a hundred times (9+ / 0-)

    While I don't have your experience, your explanation fits my efforts to piece this together and understand what happened.

    He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

    by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:59:45 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for your service (13+ / 0-)

    and for this diary.  My 28 yr old son is currently in EOD training.  I pray that the war will be stopped before he is sent over there, but I know in my heart that is a dream.

    The thought that consumes me most is how will he ever be the same?  How will he deal with what he encounters there?

    I wish peace for you in heart and mind.

  •  questions from a civilian's perspective (6+ / 0-)

    At what point in war does the killing become "fun?"  There have been a number of videos from this war that illustrate an unbridled glee from soldiers getting their chance to unload and kill.  Combatants, insurgents, civilians, random crowds, oncoming cars, men, women, children, dogs, puppies, camels, horses...

    "Light em up.  Yeah yeah yeah."

    That all of this has had a defacto blessing by the American government and the Christian religion is depressing beyond words.

    It's unfortunate that our military is not comprised of personnel of the same caliber as the diarist.

    I have a number of questions and sentiments, I think none of them are probably helpful for discussion.  

    Humanity is most likely, in a word, "doomed."

    "There's been a little complication with my complication"

    by dash888 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:02:40 AM PDT

    •  As I said, I think those comments come from that (16+ / 0-)

      awful feeling of euphoria. I cannot explain it, but I also felt it after an engagement. It later was very painful to me, I was ashamed of myself for feeling that way.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:14:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Light em up. Yeah yeah yeah." (10+ / 0-)

      I don't think you read the diary or if you did you chose to ignore or write off the diarists thoughts.

      1. The expressions of glee could constitute many things. They certainly weren't for public consumption. But generally speaking, from the Vets that I know, expressions of Glee could come from relief that an enemy was no longer a threat or relief from feelings of anger which is temporary at best. During WW11 documentaries you would hear the same thing when a enemy position was taken out by the Army air Force or artillery fire. Same in Vietnam and every other war.
      1. Lets not forget they are doing what they are trained to do. When someone does their job they is generally some back slapping that goes on.

      I always find the ex-post-facto criticism from people who haven't been there annoying to say the least. As the diarist mentioned soldiers in a war zone become de-sensitized. That's a means of surviving emotionally and physically. If the time comes to pull the trigger, there is no time for a lengthy "feelings" session.

      But when the vets come back to the real world with feelings of anger and guilt in some cases, there is no real outlet for it. Hence PTSD.

      I have a friend who went to Afghanistan 6 times as a Special Forces operator. He was even tempered and calm. But 6 tours proved to be too much. Within a Year of his last tour, his family of 8 were gone as a result of divorce. He had sunk to levels of despair that few experience.

      He was always so proud of his family, so that divorce was like a huge chuck of salt thrown into a gaping wound. He wrote me after 18 months to let me know he was still alive . He thought he was coming out of it. That was last Nov. I haven't heard from him since. I have tried to make contact numerous times.

      Going back even further, I heard from the wife of a friend who won the distinguished service medal as a Helicopter pilot in Vietnam at 21. He had a massive onslaught of PTSD in 2008-2009. The marriage barely survived.

      I have not served. That's critical because I believe that criticizing actions of soldiers during war by people who haven't been there is no more than bleacher bum Monday morning quarterbacking. There are exceptions. My Lai comes to mind. But over-all I would prefer to hear reactions from people who have walked in the same shoes.

      Save the criticism for the people who put them there who also never served.

      •  I disagree with this portion (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        dash888, checkmate, kurt, husl piper 11

        I have not served. That's critical because I believe that criticizing actions of soldiers during war by people who haven't been there is no more than bleacher bum Monday morning quarterbacking. There are exceptions. My Lai comes to mind. But over-all I would prefer to hear reactions from people who have walked in the same shoes.

        I think understanding the limitations of one's own experience - or lack of it - should be a factor in assessing a situation.  I don't think, however, that only those who have direct experience of something are entitled to have an opinion on it.  Their opinions may have greater weight or more credibility (though not always), but every one of us has a view on something that is generally outside our own experience.  That's not always a bad thing, because if you limit the "right" to analyze a situation to only those who have been in it, you run the risk of a bias that holds no one responsible for anything he or she ever does.

        Procrastination: Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

        by Linnaeus on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:52:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Experience matters. Judgment is for all. (0+ / 0-)

          What was observable, what was decided, what was done?

          Those that have experience tend to have a better perspective in viewing a video like this and explaining what might have been happening to give us context, what would have been observable and determinable at the time by those present, and why the various decisions were made.

          Until we know more it is hard to judge finally what was done that should have been clearly identifiable as 'wrong' at the time by those present -.  

          The larger issue is that even if those present acted within their scope and with no inappropriate intent, this is what happens when you go to war and we as a society must assume it is happening whether we see video of it or not because it is unavoidable.

          The corrorsivness of war is universal and increases with prolonged exposure.

          And that acid has no aim and no justice and respects no flag or uniform nor lack of either.  It just eats away for as long as you are in contact with it, until either you cease contact or die.

          When we pass judgment we must remember that.

          The last dog-whistle has died. What we have now is like blowing a train whistle and then saying "oh sorry, I was just trying to call my dog".

          by Into The Woods on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:25:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not "monday morning quarterbacking" as you (0+ / 0-)

        say, of the bleacher bum sort, nor am I really criticizing those who serve.  I'm simply trying to understand how they get to the point that killing is a rush.

        You find my ex-post-facto questions annoying due to the fact that I haven't served, fucking spare me, as you relate that you haven't served, so now I'm annoying and not worthy of criticism?

        I've already expressed admiration for the diarist and will acknowledge that I am unable to comprehend what it would be like to be sent into hell with misleading, and outright false directives.

        I'm simply trying to understand it all.

        Your fucking comment reeks of the superiority complex that believes those not in the know need not ask at all.

        "There's been a little complication with my complication"

        by dash888 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:01:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Dr Frist at it again (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          UtopianPablo, CuriousBoston

          Your fucking comment reeks of the superiority complex that believes those not in the know need not ask at all.

          I didn't know you had gone into psychiatric but I have to tell you Dr that the idea of making remote diagnoses via an anonymous message is not a step up from the Schiavo diagnoses.....( snark)
          -------------------------------------------------
          There is one way to ask questions that shows a genuine interest in helping one to educate themselves and there is another way of asking questions , like Fox news producers, that shows one is clearly biased in a singular direction.

          •  pardon my diagnosis, I'll not say it in (0+ / 0-)

            psychicatric terms.  Your comment sounds "haughty" and full of condescension.  Spare me the Frist moniker, I'll just say an unFristly fuck you.  

            "There's been a little complication with my complication"

            by dash888 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:35:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  that van shooting (8+ / 0-)

    i agree it was a bad shoot.

    Worse the soldiers knew it.

    They id'd the people as not having weapons.

    In general, you shouldn't use the choppers or
    drones as primary fires but as suppressing fire
    to support ground troops.

    George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

    by nathguy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:03:24 AM PDT

    •  Yes (6+ / 0-)

      I can see the initial engagement as justifiable.

      But the attack on the van was clearly not, and it's clear they knew it because they had just been pleading for the injured guy to pick up a weapon so they could shoot.

      He took a duck in the face at two hundred and fifty knots.

      by jrooth on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:10:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not sure on the van shooting. My (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dancing Frog, sargoth, UtopianPablo

      question on the shooting of the van is: what is the rules for a situation where you believe insurgents are attempting to carry off their wounded.  Also, what do you do when you believe the van is a bad guy van.  Do you let bad guys get away or do you attack them?  Seems to me anytime you have bad guys in your sights and they aren't giving up you should kill them.  

      Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment and OK for you.

      by thestructureguy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:21:20 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know, honestly (5+ / 0-)

        if this is your standard of behavior, then there's practically no level of terrorism that's morally objectionable.

        Guys in a crowded, civilian neighborhood, in a civilian van, with 2 kids in it, taking a wounded, unarmed person away (presumably to a hospital) from where a US helicopter shot the hell out of him = "bad guys" because...why, exactly?  And who was asking them to "give up"?  Not the guys in the chopper.  Not the humvees that weren't on the scene.  What were they supposed to do, let someone just bleed to death on the street when they could help save his life?  What made them "bad guys" -- what they were doing, or who they were?

        Your standard absolutely justifies in a moral sense any attack of any type on any American in uniform in Iraq, and probably any American, period.  Just define Americans as "bad guys" and have at 'em, any way you want.

        "Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!" -- Situationist graffito, 1968

        by Pesto on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:11:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Standard is the Geneva Convention (0+ / 0-)

        which specifically prohibits attacks on the wounded and caregivers.

        it's why Medics wear red crosses and ambulances have markings.  

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:08:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  you don't shoot wounded people (0+ / 0-)

        it's against the Geneva convention.

        George Bush is Living proof of the axiom "Never send a boy to do a man's job" E -2.25 S -4.10

        by nathguy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:09:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for writing this. (9+ / 0-)

    I read every word.  I didn't watch the video.  After reading a description, I knew it was nightmare material.  

    I can understand the primal desire to hurt someone who hurts you.  We all have it.  When they are actually trying to kill you, and not once but over and over again, the urge must be overpowering.  It comes from a deep place in our minds, probably one that is highly evolved over millions of years, for survival.  To impose your rational thought on that impulse must have required enormous effort.  I do not hold those who cannot do this completely responsible for their actions in a war zone.

    But the higher-ups who cover up incidents like this should be held responsible.  McChrystal got away with the Tillman coverup, and the message is:  it's OK.

  •  Thanks for taking the time to give the (13+ / 0-)

    many of us that are not veterans or been in combat that rather unique perspective. Your words will now always temper my own thinking.

    One thing that I would like to ask you, and in a way you have already answered it:

    On Democracy Now! this morning, both Julian Assange (cofounder of Wikileaks) and Glenn Greenwald thought that many were overlooking a very important aspect of the video, and that is that it portrays a mission that is routine, not out of the ordinary. The crew of the gunship described the scene, requested permission to fire, it was granted, etc.

    From your experience, is what we have seen in the video (the killing of Namir Noor-Eldeen and others) an aberation, or commonplace?

  •  anti-malarial (11+ / 0-)

     I dated an Army Reserve captain who was an infectious disease control specialist. She did a tour in Afghanistan. Everyone was given hydroxychloroquinine to control malaria and this drug can make one very paranoid. I have directly personal experience with this - it's part of the anti-Lyme regimen with which I am painfully familiar.

     Do you recall anyone having trouble with this? How much of an affect do you think it has overall on conditions for those serving in Afghanistan?

    •  This should be a diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Science and Art, kurt, Noor B
    •  C Barr is correct. Please diary this. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      When I went to India, I took doxycycline both times, and slathered on the sunscreen.  I preferred dealing with the mild sunburn to taking something that just might make me crazy.

      "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18 (-8.50, -7.23)

      by Noor B on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:08:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  i took lariam once (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      right before and during a (for leisure) trip to a rural part of India. I had vivid nightmares and woke up in sweats each night I took the once-a-week pill, starting week 3 (which was week 1 in India). I continued to take Lariam the entire time I was there (about 6 weeks).

      I have never taken Lariam or any other malaria drug again. It's not worth it. I'd rather just lather up in DEET lol.

    •  Partly correct (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      The drug you are talking about is actually Mefloquine hydrochloride (Brand name Larium) not Hydroxychloroquine (Brand name Plaquenil).  I have taken Larium, and had severe depression as a result.  Paranoia is only one of the possible side effects.

      That said, the military has recently shifted from Larium to doxycycline (I've had a bad reaction to that one to, but that was due to photsensitivity that it causes).

      The larger question is why they aren't using Malarone (a combination of Atovaquone and Hydroxychloroquine) that actually has very limited side effects and is very effective.  The only problem with it is that it is expensive.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:38:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for you diary (9+ / 0-)

    It is a very important diary.   Maybe one of the most important diaries ever posted in daily kos.  

    It reminds all of us one important fact.  That war turns humans into animals who want to kill.  A despicable concept.   What is particularly disturbing here is that this has been a completely unnecessary war.  That's why George Bush Jr., Dick Cheney and the rest of their gang who started that war, are war criminals.  Big time war criminals.

  •  I hear you... (15+ / 0-)

    Even as a non combatant while with the Red Cross in Vietnam, I can remember sitting in a bunker in the middle of the night after many nights of mortar attacks and wanting to kill the people responsible myself.  Even in a war zone with death all around, that I could really WANT to kill someone was an unpleasant revelation.

    It was the writing and talking about my experiences that has given me the most peace over the years.  Sorting out the puzzles that are at first hard to put together and owning the pieces of the puzzle that were my own making were sometimes painful...it all needed to be done.

    I wish you well in your quest for making it all the way home and I wish you peace.

    "I don't understand how I came to use these colors in my design. It would be understandable if I had been working in the dark..." Dellia Sallo

    by trinityfly on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:11:37 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the perspective, (7+ / 0-)

    and thank you for your service.

    "The kid in the combat gear is dead because the men in the suits failed."-me

    by porchdog1961 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:14:36 AM PDT

  •  One of the reasons that war (10+ / 0-)

    should always be a very last resort is what happened in this video, and what you describe painfully well. It's the need of the soldiers to dehumanize the enemy. It's about the only way to survive.

    I had a long talk about this with a friend of mine who served in Vietnam. It was very painfull for me to listen to what he said. He is a gentle soul who is part of the vets for peace group no, but to this day, 40 years after serving, he still battles those demons.

    Thank you for posting this since it obviously brought back a lot of pain. I hope you are getting the help you deserve in dealing with these feelings.  

    Still a man hears what he wants to hear And disregards the rest

    by Mike S on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:14:53 AM PDT

  •  moral of the story: disable helicopter cameras (0+ / 0-)

    Of course I appreciate a veteran's view of this video, at the same time if i was part of the court marshal that the diarist urged, I would rule that these soldiers acted accordingly to the orders they were given by their superior officers.

  •  Thanks for this diary (6+ / 0-)

    When I saw that video, what I really wanted to see was some sense of context--what was happening in that area that led the Apache crews to just automatically assume that a crew of journalists with armed guards were hostile insurgents.

    The real villains here are not the soldiers, but the corrupt politicians and war criminals Bush and Cheney who sent them to Iraq to begin with.

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:18:31 AM PDT

  •  some people mentioned it (10+ / 0-)

    my main opposition to war is what it does to the survivors on all sides. I've read enough about many wars to figure this out.  

    I'm not angry at the people who do this type of stuff. That is what war does to people. It would do it to me, I'm sure. Which is why i'm against war.  

    And why we also need to understand that if war does this to our soldiers, what does it do to the powerless people in these countries who see their families killed? Of course they also have blind hatred and thoughts of revenge. But they don't have a military to get back at anyone.  So they use suicide bombs and terrorism.  

    Wars create terrorists. Longer the war, more terrorists you get.

    •  I am also deeply upset at the people who do (15+ / 0-)

      this stuff. They cannot be let off, and I believe they should receive a fair court martial. We all had opportunities to make decisions. The reasons behind this need to be hashed out. We soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen do need to be held accountable for our actions.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:22:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  accountability (7+ / 0-)

        would be nice. Of course it should start at the top.

        I don't think holding the Lynddie Englands of the world "accountable" changes anything.

        When the commander in chief lies you into a war and says torture is ok, seems to me its follow the leader and all bets are off.

        And wasn't McChyrstal involved in covering up the Tillman incident?  Seems like accountability isn't part of the leadership culture.

        •  There were people who refused those orders (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt, sargoth

          The person(s) leaking these videos are probably in the military.

          Lynddie England and others at her level should not have been the only ones punished.  But they should have been punished.  What they did was vile beyond imagining.

          You don't park your moral agency at the recruiter's door.

          That said, the fact that she went to jail and Bush went on vacation is a disgrace.... heaped on so much disgrace.

          www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

          by chuckvw on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:19:24 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  no doubt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chuckvw

            that plenty of people in the military do the right thing despite living through the horror of war. These people are usually referred to as "exceptional" because they are the exception.

            Most people will want revenge and then if they experience the euphoria the diarist talks about, it can get out of hand quickly.

            Because most people are not exceptional under extreme conditions, situations like the one on this video happen all the time in war.  Which is why we shouldn't be fighting these wars of choice or vanity or empire or whatever they hell they are about.

            Anyone catch the show Intervention last night?  It was about a young vet who came home from his tour and starting drinking to escape. They had a lot of footage of him just drinking himself to oblivion. chugging vodka. Prior to the war he wasn't a drinker.

            What really sickens me about all of this is how Obama has ramped up this war in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq continues. All of those lives he is sending off to go through this. For what?

            •  What were England and her buddies avenging? (0+ / 0-)

              Sadistic pleasure is also euphoria inducing, and is a factor in some of these situations.

              I agree wholeheartedly with you here:

              What really sickens me about all of this is how Obama has ramped up this war in Afghanistan and the one in Iraq continues. All of those lives he is sending off to go through this. For what?

              www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

              by chuckvw on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:23:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •   certainly (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                chuckvw

                ugly situations bring out ugliness even without the revenge.

                you familiar with the stanford prison experiment?

                seems like England and her coworkers got put into the standford prison experiment from hell. And just like those stanford kids, it changed her and her coworkers. not for the better.

                which brings me back to the point of why it is so important to avoid these situations. People don't handle them well.

      •  There is no chance they will be court-martialed. (0+ / 0-)

        What would be the excuse for military justice not having acted earlier?  Mind you there has been an investigation of the military, by the military.  Duh.

  •  Thank you for writing this (11+ / 0-)

    Your diary is at the same time dispassionate and deeply personal, informative and insightful. As long as there are people like you in the armed forced there is still hope. I feel great sympathy for the hardship you have been put through as a humane person with a genuine desire to help others. My foremost reaction to the video in question wasn't anger but sadness. It is so fundamentally wrong on so many levels.

    In any case, the coverup is inexcusable.

  •  I applaud your candor but (6+ / 0-)

    I am conflicted about participation in the military. It is one thing to defend one's country and it is another to be a pawn in a war of opportunity. Those who participate in a war of opportunity, have to deal with the moral consequences of their participation. When one joins the military, whether we are at peace or at war somewhere, one knows, regardless of what the recruiters say, that one may be asked to kill another human being.  Once one is a member of the military, one has no choice about deployment to a conflict zone. Regardless of how many fingers get pointed at the "just following orders defense" or "the fog of war" defense or the "it was them or us" defense, these are all rationalizations for murder with which the military brainwashes recruits.  

    Thanks to a complicit media and militarized right wing Christianity few dare to bring up the moral questions which arise as a result of military service. There were certainly no heroes among the American soldiers on the day depicted by the video.  There were no heroes among their commanders.  There was only base, cowardly, wanton slaughter and some of those who committed this atrocity laughed and joked about it.  It was as though the people were targets in some demented, violent video game.  

    Every young person who is considering joining the military ought to be required to watch this video and to ask themselves whether this is how they want to be remembered.  These situations arise regularly in war and no matter how much Hollywood, the news media or broadcast television networks attempt to glorify war, it boils down to slaughter.  If the military wants to know why so many veterans are committing suicide following their tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they need look no further than this video.  The military, especially if commanded by opportunists, takes young people and turns them into murderers.  I would not want any young person I know or love to be a part of this. My heart goes out to the Iraqi people who lost loved ones in this wanton act of slaughter.  I pity the American soldiers who must live with this atrocity but I hope that their commanders and they are brought to justice.

    •  Agree. (0+ / 0-)

      You need to be especially stupid or ill-informed to think that military service in Iraq is "serving the United States."  
      I'll ask my standard question for the militarists here:  "Since August of 1945, has the United States military killed ANYone in defense of the United States?"

  •  Diarist is WRONG: RPG=37.4" long. Lens= Under 12" (6+ / 0-)

    While I respect the diarist's view as a soldier, I have to point out that an RPG is FOUR TIMES longer than a camera lens.

    Sorry. I'm not buying.

    I see the reporter round the corner with his camera and point it in the direction of the helicopter.

    Which video did you see??

    The camera lens is pointed parallel to the ground, then downward. Perhaps you'd like to point at which time mark in the vid the lens is pointed "in the direction of the helicopter."

    With hindsight, we know that it is a camera, but 2 weapons can be clearly identified beforehand, an AK and an RPG, and the camera does look like a weapon, especially the way the cameraman manipulates it around the corner.

    Sorry, no dice. A camera does not look like a weapon. The lens type, as with most long lenses, is very wide and flares out at the end. Would the diarist care to tell me what weapon is shaped like a flared coffee can? I've never seen one of those.

    No, seriously. I wasn't there. What weapon is less than 12 inches long, about 4-5 inches wide, and flared?

    If anyone can tell me of such a weapon, then I'll give the helicopter crew the benefit of the doubt (except for the part where they call the short object a long RPG. Everyone knows the diff between 1 foot and four feet.

    •  There is not a clear look at the length of the (3+ / 0-)

      camera. And the diarist is not "wrong." Read it again.

      •  2:30 second mark (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        monroematt, unfortunate son

        The entire camera is on the ground, the photog next to it on his knees. THAT is when the voice says "He's got an RPG."

        No, he doesn't.

        Then the photog picks up the camera, now slightly obscured by the building All the way to 2:42 mark you can see the camera is at the chest of the photog, thus we can also note that it is nowhere near the length of an RPG.

        LOOK at the video. Google "RPG" and then "camera lens long"

        Compare and contrast.

        •  Did you read the diary? And about the mindset (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ranger995, JRandomPoster

          of soldiers in that shit? Or ranger's response to you about other weapons? You are not being straight, and he doens't deserve your dickishness.

          •  Thank you, but I think he is fine. He is bringing (9+ / 0-)

            up reasonable questions, and I have tried to answer honestly.

            I appreciate your support, but I also appreciate his desire to get to the bottom of these things and understand.

            He is not personally insulting me, so I welcome his/her questions.

            "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

            by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:46:20 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yes. I quoted from it. (0+ / 0-)

            I quoted from the diary. Therefore, I read it.

            Now look. I posted this below, but I'll pose it to you:

            IF a photographer and his equipment looks like a man carrying an RPG, we would hear about a LOT more photographers being shot at from helicopter gunships.

            But we don't. There are a LOT of helicopter crews in Afghanistan and Iraq who are not shooting at photographers. Kudos to them.

            So to take ONE INCIDENT where helicopter crews do something none of the others are doing, and assert that's normal, is to defy reason and the facts.

            Show me where my logic is flawed. Tell me that photographers are routinely shot at because they look like they're carrying RPGs.

            •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

              You read this from ranger995?

              It is a big tube that comes around the corner and points upward. Looks nothing like an RPG, but it does look similar to a hand-held anti-armour weapon such as a LAW or a TOE.

              It was in his very first repsonse to you, yet you keep coming back with the RPG stuff. I'm sorry, but you deserve nothing. You've also ignored the fact that someone in love action is very different from someone saying "Stop the video at 3:42..."

        •  Says a person watching a video... (6+ / 0-)

          in which they can watch again and again and pause it at a specific moment to accurately describe the photog's exact movements and what he's carrying in his hand.

    •  I never suggested that the camera looked like an (15+ / 0-)

      RPG. It is a big tube that comes around the corner and points upward. Looks nothing like an RPG, but it does look similar to a hand-held anti-armour weapon such as a LAW or a TOE. In the video just before that, there are two armed men: one holding what looks like an AK 47, and the other an RPG.  

      I really do not want to justify anything, but up to that point I really just viewed it as a very tragic scene. It is what happened afterward that made my stomach sink.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:29:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What I wondered when I first saw the object (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranger995, Little

        that was identified in the video as a camera while hearing the Apache crew report an RPG is, "Do they just use the word RPG to refer to any sort of rocket launcher?  Looks more like a Dragon to me..."  Is that common for the troops out there?  Sort of like Band-Aid and Kleenex being interchangeable with the actual products they represent?

      •  Just a tidbit about the journalists: They were (0+ / 0-)

        wearing nothing to ID them as journalists. [kevlar vests marked PRESS for example] Cameras can be used to 'fix' a target for the RPGs. There were no reports of journalists in this area at this time.

        This item about these journalists' death that I read is that following this, Reuters issued a policy statement telling its field journalists to NOT run with armed insurgents.

        This might make you feel a little better: in the after action report, the pilots were using their own sight, not their camera to see a wider view of the scene. They saw weapons being picked up by the van occupants that is not on the vid. This type of activity had been reported earlier during the same firefight. Were they really firing at the 'wounded' or were they firing at 'insurgents'?

        Real war is not easy to watch for anybody. War is a major sucking tragedy by definition.

        "...fighting the wildfires of my life with squirt guns."

        by deMemedeMedia on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:02:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, they really can't (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          darrelplant, NYFM

          Cameras can be used to 'fix' a target for the RPGs

          I wish I knew where you got this from.

          This might make you feel a little better: in the after action report, the pilots were using their own sight, not their camera to see a wider view of the scene. They saw weapons being picked up by the van occupants that is not on the vid.

          Right.  On the tape, they question whether it's possible that the rescuers might pick up weapons.

          They never say they have.

          Then, when they've got their dicks caught in a wringer, they say they "saw some weapons picked up outside the frame.."

          You understand they were about 1,000 meters away, right?  That they couldn't actually see anything in any detail with the naked eye?

          Satrap Wanted. Lawless Central Asian region needs firm hand. Compensation paid in Opium, or an equal weight in Catamites. Must stay bought!

          by JesseCW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:23:20 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Watch it again (5+ / 0-)

      I saw the rpg- it's not the camera guy.

    •  You see what you want to see as do (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SallyCat, Little, CuriousBoston

      the soldiers. Your observations and opinions mean nothing in the context of sitting behind a keyboard after the fact. Since I assume your experience consists of playing call to duty I'll respect the investigation by those with experience and knowledge.

      Eat recycled food. It's good for the environment and OK for you.

      by thestructureguy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:30:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You have the luxury (6+ / 0-)

      Of coolly watching the video, over and over, from the safety of your home or office.  You watch it with the advantage of knowing in beforehand what it is you are looking at.

      While I don't in any way condone what happened in that video, I think you're wrong in claiming that the camera was clearly not a weapon.  To me, seeing the way the cameraman crouched behind the corner and appeared to point whatever he was holding in the direction of the helicopter looked threatening.  There is a lot to fault those soldiers for, but misinterpreting that is not one of them, in my opinion.

    •  One word: Perspective. (5+ / 0-)

      "We are all born ignorant, but one must work hard to remain stupid." -Ben Franklin

      by IndieGuy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:51:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Camera does not look like a weapon" (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      darrelplant, bluicebank, ratmach

      But if you read the investigator's statements just released by the pentagon, you will see the claim from the military:

      "subject demonstrates hostility by pointing his camera at the helicopter"

      They admit it looked like a camera but used that as justification for "engaging."  This incident gets more sinister, the more one looks into it.

      This claim of hostility tells me that the military mindset in Iraq objects to being photographed, hates cameras.

      We suspected this from the high death toll of journalists and photographers in Iraq since the invasion.

      This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

      by Agathena on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:46:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep... "hostility" doesn't require a weapon (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Agathena

        All it requires is that someone/anyone dare challenge what we (the U.S.) are doing to that country. Actually I'm kinda surprised there are ANY journalists or photgraphers left alive in Iraq... I'm surprised our military (and their civilian overlords) hasn't taken them ALL out.

        "Any dictator would admire the uniformity and obedience of the U.S. media." -- Noam Chomsky

        by ratmach on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:57:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Ranger (7+ / 0-)

    There is a site that featured many hrs. of gunship video before the military cracked down on our troops posting them.
    You could easily identify a small group burying an IED or a group with long rifles and RPG launchers. There were vids of a group firing mortars then loading the launcher into a Toyota. Follow them home, light em up. Taking accurate fire? Call in a 500 lb. bomb.
    The leaked vid just doesn't show that kind of activity.  
    Thanks again.

    Chance favors the prepared mind

    by tlemon on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:24:54 AM PDT

  •  "When you are hit by an IED there is no fight." (16+ / 0-)

    "There is no opportunity to get the people who caused you this harm."

    I suspect many people in Iraq and Afghanistan must be feeling this way about us.

    Thank you for this outstanding diary.

    •  indeed (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quotemstr, kurt, vinny67

      and they have to worry about mines, being bystanders when an IED is exploded, stray gunfire and drone attacks. war is hell for soldiers, yes, but it is something even worse for innocents caught in the crossfire and who have to live, in an even more real way, with the consequences of the slaughter of war.

  •  Thanks for this diary (8+ / 0-)

    As someone who has always been and always will be a civilian only, I've had VERY strong reactions against war in all it's forms forever.  What it does to everyone involved.  I really do wish humanity would outgrow the need for it.  

    What you said reminded me -- albeit in a MUCH more mundane sense -- of my brother and his attitude towards football when he was a teenager/young man.  When he was on the field, he became another person.  An animal.  A killer, sort of.  He did actually break the arm of a guy on an opposing team once.  At 6'5" 280 pounds in High School (and all muscle), he was quite capable.  He got a scholarship to Dartmouth off his football.  And quit football in his Sophmore year.  He realized what it did to him and just stopped.  And never encouraged any of his sons to play the game though they've all got the body-type, too.  I've felt the feeling before, too, when threatened.  I think it's a very normal reaction.  In war, even more so.  You really expressed it very well.  Even though I was horrified at what the soliders did/said, I did think about the fact that if they ever have to face what they did, how would they deal with that?  How do you?  War is just hell for anyone/everyone involved and should be done away with at the most utopian best, but surely never entered into for anything but the most dire situation.

  •  It seems that some of our combat is remotely (9+ / 0-)

    executed - through drones and from above in attack helicopters.  I assume that this type of combat is designed to reduce American casualties, but it appears that the remoteness creates a sense of distance from the other side - perhaps a  dehumanizing of the enemy - which may have led to the comments made by the soldiers.  I know you mention that it was a sense of euphoria from being out of danger but I was struck by the separation of the soldiers from the people on the ground.  Anyway, I was very moved by your diary and am glad to have more discussion on this.  Thank you for posting your thoughts on this.  The video was deeply disturbing to me.

  •  Thank you for your insightful diary, ranger995 (5+ / 0-)

    Also thank you for your service.
    Son had done two OIF tours, heads to Afghanistan next month.
    I saw the rpg in the video. My son watched his buds get killed by a helicopter being shot down near Mosul.

  •  Thank you for sharing your feelings with us (4+ / 0-)

    so honestly.

  •  thank you for sharing this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Forbes, ranger995, Noor B

    Have not watched the video, nor do I intend to. Am enough of a peace nik that I don't care to see it.

    Only armchair warriors are stupid enough to think they know how men in battle should react to a dangerous situation.  You are there.  And based upon experiences like yours, one can hardly blame soldiers for moving into that "euphoric" phase and then missing it when you get home.  It protects you in a horrible environment but becomes your addiction. You forget there are other joys in life that are so much more worthwhile than that euphoria.

    Please use your experience to seriously question any war or military action that our MIC decides to participate in, and share it out loud.  And teach your children to do the same. You have probably asked yourself, why did we think WE needed to restore stablility to Afghanistan?  Why did we go there when, according to Bush, he rarely gave any thought to bin Laden?  And why did we start a war in Iraq? To show Saudi Arabia that we could still kick butt, and FU to the Saudi hijackers? Why do WE have to police the world?

    I truly appreciate your service and courage and that you were willing to go and fight for your country. I couldn't do it.  But until soliders also start questioning the real reasons the United States of America goes to war, and refuse to go, they will continue to return home broken and emotionally wasted, or in caskets.  

    It is not worth it to me to lose even one good American like yourself for the folly of idiot presidents and transnational corporations.  

    "We heard their ideas, and they stink." Hal Sparks

    by lisastar on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:36:43 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for a thoughtful diary... (6+ / 0-)

    This proves yet again that we should not undertake a war unless it is absolutely necessary.  If it is us or them, then we should use our very effective military to destroy our enemies.  We should not use our military to occupy other countries, because tragedies like this are inevitable in this case.  What is not inevitable, and what is so worrisome about this video is the cover-up.  How many other massacres like this happened with no prominent journalists involved?  

  •  I really, really appreciate your (8+ / 0-)

    background and explanation.  You help me realize that war is a dirty, muddy thing and what context to put the video in.

    I watched it yesterday and could see how confusing things might initially be.

    I hope you are doing well now and though I can't really apologize for the hurtful comments of others, I wish that I could!

    We've got serious work to do. Health care and civil rights for all, please!

    by the dogs sockpuppet on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:41:54 AM PDT

  •  Appreciate your insights. (7+ / 0-)

    I agree with this wholeheartedly.

    What bothers me the most is that the military tried to cover it up.

    Not the first time either. Jessica Lynch, Pat Tillman and Abu Ghraib are all examples of the fact that they will cover up or flat-out lie if it benefits them.

    "The human eye is a wonderful device. With a little effort, it can fail to see even the most glaring injustice." Richard K. Morgan

    by sceptical observer on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:42:57 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, and observations (11+ / 0-)

    Thank you for writing this, and for your service.

    I'd like to think I understand as well as a non-veteran can. I have not served, but most of my family has. So when I watched that video, I did my best to put myself in the mind of the gunner, and of those making the hard calls.

    As soon as I saw the cameraman peeking around the corner, my heart sank: I knew he was going to die. I'm a photographer myself, I'm pretty familiar with weapons, and (if you will permit the conceit) from the type of games I play I'm excellent at picking out human threats and targets on a screen. I would have made the same assumption these soldiers did--especially if the my life and the lives of my friends were riding on being wrong. I can't fault them individually for that: it's the kind of tragedy that happens when you start a war.

    I also can't fault them for the joking that a lot of people have latched onto as callous and outrageous. This is workplace banter--and as awful as it is to think that people can banter about killing another human being, it is less a reflection of their character than of their occupation. The things I banter with my coworkers about are multi-million dollar e-commerce sites, and our black humor revolves around outages or mistakes that affect people's livelihoods. People who drive or ride ambulance joke about matters of life or death in ways that would horrify people who don't deal with it. Please understand that this is not an attempt to equate our experiences, only explain some part of the mindset. These things are different only in the scope and nature of the tragedies about which the banter revolves, not in the nature of the banter itself. It's a mechanism for coping and bonding. It doesn't make them inhuman, it makes them human, and part of a team that has to deal with bad shit day in and day out to the point where you have to either laugh, cry or scream.

    But I'm with you on what happens when the van shows up. I'm unfamiliar with the ROE in effect, so I could easily be wrong, but from where I'm sitting someone unarmed who is picking up bodies or wounded--and otherwise poses no threat--is a noncombatant.

    Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

    by Catsy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:47:42 AM PDT

    •  There is no justification for shooting a non - (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ranger995

      hostile simply for packing a weapon.  Combatant's are supposed to kill each other, non random folks who could maybe possibly be hostiles.  I'm sorry, but the guys in the air were looking for people to kill, for anything to legitimize an attack.  There was no indication that anybody down there was a hostile.

      The problem is that our rules of engagement favor the "shoot first and determine reality later type of behavior" under the caveat of "force protection".  "That might possibly be a hostile, so kill it" is the operational ideology that eventually surfaces as opposed to "find out whether that is friend, foe or neutral and then act accordingly".  Yes, that isn't easy, but that's what the myth of "civilized warfare" demands, not "shoot first ...".

      "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

      by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:59:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Non-hostiles (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        balancedscales, UtopianPablo

        There is no justification for shooting a non-hostile simply for packing a weapon.

        While this sounds great in the abstract, it assumes that there is an easy, fool-proof way to identify hostiles before they shoot at you. Insurgents do not have an IFF transponder, they do not have icons hanging over their heads that indicate when they go aggro, and their name does not turn red when you put them in your crosshairs.

        The reality of asymmetrical urban warfare is that anyone could be an enemy. This doesn't mean you shoot at everyone, it means you have to depend on your equipment, your eyes, your training, and your orders to distinguish between hostiles and noncombatants.

        We, watching the video with the benefit of hindsight, know that these people were noncombatants and that the pilots had plenty of time to observe their movements at leisure in order to confirm that they were not hostile. They didn't know that, and couldn't have. Every moment that they spent circling was another moment in which someone who appeared to be taking cover and shouldering a weapon--or one of his friends--could have locked onto their heat signature and fired a missile that would kill them or one of their team within a matter of seconds. If I'd seen only what I saw in the video, and been in their shoes, I probably would've made the same call.

        I doubt you have any idea what it's like to be in that situation. You don't know what their mission or its parameters were. You don't know what might have happened ten seconds before the video starts, or ten minutes, or earlier in the day.

        And whether you like it or not, that does matter.

        Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

        by Catsy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:01:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, when in doubt, shoot, even if you are (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt

          out of range of any weapon that you can interpret them as having.  I was intending to point out that the victim's possession of a weapon is an irrelevant consideration, especially in Iraq.  (The shooter seemed most excited, initailly, by the fact that they wre in a grous, btw.)

          There is no fool proof way to identify hostiles beyond "those who shoot at you, or at least try to are hostiles", and "those who are dead cannot be hostile in any meaningful way."  The question is whether to give anybody the benefit of the doubt and to wait for them to express any hostile intent, or just to whang away.  Everybody has to decide what number or proportion of innocents they are willing to kill.  Do I wait until I'm sure, until they shoot, or at leastr begin to aim a weapon, or is it sufficient that they aren't wearing US uniforms, or should they at least all be adult males, etc.?  It should be noted that they eventually shot a wounded man who was down and unarmed.  They clearly knew he was wounded and unarmed and wilfully shot him anyway.

          Every moment they spent circling exposed them to possible risk, but there is no obvious reason for them to just hang around, except for the obvious, to see if they could find good, solid grounds to open fire.  They never did, but that didn't stop them in the end.

          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

          by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:50:17 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Know what you don't know. (0+ / 0-)

            Yes, when in doubt, shoot, even if you are out of range of any weapon that you can interpret them as having.

            The maximum range on an SA-7 or SA-14 surface-to-air missile is somewhere around four kilometers. I defy you to distinguish between professional camera equipment and a man-portable anti-aircraft missile when either is aimed at you by a subject under partial concealment.

            There is no fool proof way to identify hostiles beyond "those who shoot at you, or at least try to are hostiles", and "those who are dead cannot be hostile in any meaningful way."  The question is whether to give anybody the benefit of the doubt and to wait for them to express any hostile intent, or just to whang away.

            That is one question. As you noted, it leads to another: what, short of opening fire on you and your team, qualifies as expressing hostile intent?

            Do I wait until I'm sure, until they shoot, or at leastr begin to aim a weapon, or is it sufficient that they aren't wearing US uniforms, or should they at least all be adult males, etc.? [emphasis mine]

            You almost got where you needed to go with this bit here, but failed to connect your questions with what might have been going through the minds of those soldiers. If you had listened to the comm chatter, you would note that they thought the targets were armed with RPGs. Not armed in the sense that pretty much everyone in Iraq over the age of 12 is armed, but armed with weapons that have no purpose except to shoot down aircraft and kill you.

            They were wrong. That happens and it is awful that it happens. But you need to stop trying to portray this as if these people were killed for hanging out and being dark-skinned. That the soldiers were mistaken in their threat assessment does not make that assessment one made in bad faith.

            It should be noted that they eventually shot a wounded man who was down and unarmed.

            It should also be noted that nobody here--including the diarist--is defending the shoot orders that came later. Don't conflate the two.

            Every moment they spent circling exposed them to possible  risk, but there is no obvious reason for them to just hang around, except for the obvious, to see if they could find good, solid grounds to open fire.

            And you know this how?

            What was their mission?

            What were the ROE?

            What happened before the video?

            Were they on a routine patrol and saw a group of people? Were they responding to an attack? To a report of armed insurgents or gunfire?

            Neither you nor I know anything about this other than what we can observe in the video. The difference seems to be that I know how little I know.

            Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

            by Catsy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:12:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The difference is that I watched and listened. (0+ / 0-)

              "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

              by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:25:42 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No. (0+ / 0-)

                You apparently watched and listened in the same sense that a creationist watches and listens to an anthropologist: in a way that validates the assumptions you'd already formed and discards anything that invalidates them.

                I'm done wasting my time.

                Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

                by Catsy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:32:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Good, now go learn what an RPG is. (0+ / 0-)

                  "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                  by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:45:33 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Is that really all you've got? Sad. (0+ / 0-)

                    I know what an RPG is.

                    I know how it differs from a surface-to-air missile with guidance.

                    What you seem unaware of is that "RPG" is often used colloquially in the military to refer to any sort of man-portable, shoulder-launched weapon--even when it is not actually a rocket-propelled grenade.

                    You have yet to respond with substance to a single rebuttal, particularly the parts which happen to be inconvenient to the narrative you've constructed. One might get the impression you're not paying attention.

                    Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

                    by Catsy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:08:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  You went into this knowing they (0+ / 0-)

                      did nothing wrong, fog of war and all that, I didn't.  

                      Gee, did you say "*Shoulder launched*" - did you see anybody start to aim anything from the shoulder? They meant RPG, not SAM or anything else, look at what they were looking at, watch and listen at the same time.
                      Did you listen to any of the chatter?

                      How can you say one bullet can't be "conflated" with another in a shootfest?  If you wish to see what went on, look to what followed, even if you ignore that this was one event, one continuum and not two.  The anxiousness to kill the wounded and the rescuers gives a pretty clear indication of the frame of mind and it isn't like they were two different events a couple of days apart.

                      Your rebuttals were how do we know that they didn't have this or that excuse, what their mission was, what happened immediately before, etc.  How about what does this look like if we don't go out of our way to fabricate exculpatory explanations?  Don't you think that if there were a whole boatload of exculpatory explanations, they might not have tried a coverup and might have given this tape to the victim's employer under FOIA?

                      They're cruising along, see a group of guys, comment on thegroup and then hang around for a better look and then see "weapons", and seek and receive permission to fire even though nobody makes anything resembling a hostile act.  That's what happened, no benefit of the doubt of any kind of whatsoever, men, with stuff, kill.  Pretty straightforward.

                      (Taking cover from a US helicopter isn't a hostile or even suspicious act - we were supposed to stop using that excuse, and that bait and kill trick after Viet Nam, though, in this case, they at least didn't fire warning shots to elicit that response.)

                      A pretty good analysis yesterday indicated that they were initially well out of RPG and AK range, so the excuse that they could come under fire at any instant isn't there either, plus, the alleged weapons were all shoulder fired weapons.  Nothing remotely resembling an attempt to aim a shoulder fired weapon at the helicopter, ever.

                      Your rebuttal appears to be that there was a risk that they maybe might have turned out to be hostile at some point down the road, so it was cool to kill them up front to avoid that risk.  I disagree, it is that simple.

                      "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                      by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:04:26 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Cheers. (0+ / 0-)

                        How can you say one bullet can't be "conflated" with another in a shootfest?

                        For future reference, this baffling exercise in completely missing the point was where I finally wrote you off as having no idea what you're talking about and no intention of engaging in good faith. If you want to be taken seriously, try responding to what people write instead of what you would like to imagine that they wrote.

                        I'm done wasting my time with you, and I want a refund on my time and bandwidth.

                        Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.

                        by Catsy on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:20:15 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  IOW, you still have no answer to any point (0+ / 0-)

                          in any of my messages.

                          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                          by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:30:11 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Just for the record, no point was missed (0+ / 0-)

                          because none was made.  The gunner gets permission to shoot up the crowd of people even though they have made no hostile acts or moves and does so, then he gets permission to shoot up the wounded survivor and does so.  You claim that this is two separate incidents that cannot be conflated.  I claim that such a stance is horseshit.

                          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                          by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 04:36:05 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Actual facts, since Catsy has confused the (0+ / 0-)

                          record with so much afactual stuff are that the decision was made to fire based on the allegation that there were 5 guys with 2 AK-47s.  Nobody believed in or alleged any RPG at that point.  The tape  starts talking about there being a bunch of people, it comes to an enumeration of well over 5, then makes a claim of a weapon. That was false and should have been "that could be a weapon", they weren't under attack or being threatened, no cause for hastily assuming that any and every object possessed by a male Iraqi is a weapon.  They're potentially endangering their own by providing misinformation and should make some half assed attempt to be accurate if they hadn't already made up their minds.  It didn't look like a weapon, but could've been.

                          We then get an allegation of a second weapon, then that there are 5 guys with 2 AKs (no longer merely weapons) and the request for permission to shoot is given the thumbs up on the sole grounds that there are guys with AKs. (Guys with AKs are not rare nor unexpected, and not grounds for an attack.)

                          They begin to maneuver to get optimal firing position. Next there is a claim that something is an RPG, although absolutely no such ID could be made.  Said RPG was therefore no part of the decision to attack.  Next it is claimed that they had guys shooting, a blatant lie.

                          Then the gunner lights them up.

                          "Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

                          by enhydra lutris on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 05:21:56 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

            •   full scale invasion happened before this video (0+ / 0-)

              the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

              by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:48:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  the Iraqi resistance has courage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Agathena, kurt, An Affirming Flame

    to take on the world's "greatest purveyor of violence"

    my question... why does anyone think it is right to shoot at Iraqis or people in Afghanistan who carry guns and resist a foreign occupation?

    Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. -MLK

    by Tom J on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:49:03 AM PDT

    •  Most men carry guns in Afghanistan. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt, JesseCW

      Not to foment or defend against the occupation of their country but, simply, for protection and as a habit (it hasn't been a very nice place to live for the last few decades).

      I saw an AP report the other day that listed justification for killing 2 men in Afghanistan as "brandishing weapons" and was horrified because, many many many people there brandish weapons. It's kind of a way of life there to be armed and if that is all our forces need to defend murder, we've truly slipped very far down the rabbit hole.

      (To those who will defend against this type of killing due to the "enemy" being armed, I used to teach LOAC in my squadron and it specifically states that someone simply being armed is NOT justification for engagement.)

      "This is where some of my dreams become realities. And where some of my realities become dreams." -Willie Wonka

      by green917 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:33:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Question: Are all photogs shot at? (0+ / 0-)

    According to the diarist, a photographer with a camera and long focal length lens looks like a man carrying an RPG.

    Let's assume the premise:

    If that is true, then a) Every photographer in Iraq and Afghanitan spotted by a helicopter gunship would be shot at, and b) Every photographer would stop carrying long lenses due to the occupational hazard.

    Since neither A nor B is true, the premise is false.

    Camera lenses do not resemble RPGs. QED.

  •  I hope talking about it, writing about it, (8+ / 0-)

    did help you. Your diary is so well written that you pulled me all the way through to the end like the most compelling stories do. Your diary is testimony to many important things - the right kind of courage, the truth in what happens to a soldier's psyche in the heat of combat, and the issues that the military must face. All of it screams truth. Thank you for writing it.

  •  Thank you for your honesty. (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    itsbenj, Pesto, ranger995, kurt, alkalinesky
    I'll be honest too and admit that I don't often have a lot of sympathy for soldiers who complain about and react badly to being shot at. I always wonder, "How can they be upset? They invaded somebody's country and blew people up, OF COURSE they're being shot at."
    Then when the argument is made that soldiers are "defending our freedom" I get angry because that platitude is used too often when "our freedom" is not at stake.
    I am, however, not encouraging dumping on vets. I think we should be honest in the run up to war and honest with the havoc it wreaks on human beings.
    Thanks for encouraging the discussion.
     
  •  imagine (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, alkalinesky

    if recruiters were forced to show this to prospects?

    "We heard their ideas, and they stink." Hal Sparks

    by lisastar on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:57:19 AM PDT

  •  I listened to the father of 9 year old Ali (6+ / 0-)

    describe how Blackwater murdered his son in 2007.  It was an hour long radio interview, (i think it was on Democracy Now), and it talked about how the boy always slept on his father's arm, and how he insisted that his name was Alawi, not Ali, which is the pet name version of that name.

    After listening to that interview, I can't listen to or read reports about Blackwater or civilian killings in Iraq without crying.  So you'll excuse me for not reading this diary, but I'll tip and rec.

  •  War is an atrocity... (6+ / 0-)

    ... that begats further atrocities.

    We send our young men and women into a war far from home; a war that many of our citizens cheer for but one that is anything but up close and personal to us; a war that many do not have to think about except in abstract terms.

    This is a war that we were once told to shop to support; a war without the visual images of Vietnam on a nightly basis.  We do not see the returning bodies; the daily images of the terrible harms inflicted, the dead, the maimed, those whose minds have collapsed under the strain of war.  We as a nation choose not to view the terrible destruction wrought, the lives ended, the wreckage inflicted upon both our soldiers and the people in whose nation we fight.

    And this war of aggression is different than any other war our nation has fought.  It is an urban war, a war where the enemies and the friends are difficult to differentiate, a war where the sides are not clearly defined at times; and yet, a war no less deadly than any other.

    We send our men and women back again and again to fight enemies that do not wear uniforms, enemies who melt into the rest of the population.  We send them to face IED's and snipers, landmines and populations that at times hate them.  We send them for oil, for profit, for domination.  And when they're done, all too often we don't care for their damaged bodies and minds.

    I've watched the video.  And I honestly believe that what happened started as terrible, horrible mistake - but a mistake nonetheless; exacerbated by the feelings engendered by the nature of this war.  That the soldiers initially at least believed that they had found enemies.  And once in that frame of mind, once they had entered combat mode, they saw all that followed through that lens; the lens of their training, the lens of the terrible realities and dangers they face daily, the lens of fear, of anger, of the aggression that the war instills in them.

    Have no doubt - I believe what happened was terrible in extremes.  But at some level, our nation, our leaders, our people, ourselves are responsible for what happened.  We sit at home, far removed from the war, worrying about daily concerns, with no idea of the horrors that our soldiers face every day.

    What happened was terrible.  But in the end, we are all responsible to some extent for what happened.

    The inadequate is the enemy of the necessary.

    by JRandomPoster on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:57:33 AM PDT

  •  Ranger, thank you for your courage here (4+ / 0-)

    and your service.  I have no words for the sorrow and pain that this has brought to you and so many others.

    Peace be with you in body, mind, and spirit.

    Comfort the afflicted. Afflict the comfortable.

    by FindingMyVoice on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:58:03 AM PDT

  •  It is hard to hate war's devastation (9+ / 0-)

    and not transfer some of those feelings to the warriors.

    We need to realize that those who are participating in the war are all human beings with many flaws. Those on "our side" aren't perfect.

    Those who are "the enemy" are not totally evil and the innocent can be mistaken for an enemy during the insane stress of battle.

    Most reasonable people understand that horrible things like this happen in every war, and it is human nature to try to avoid punishment.

    This must have been a hard diary to write, but bless you for doing it. It is all too easy to condemn someone when you have not walked in their shoes. Maybe a few who have had this virtual walk with you will see things more clearly.

    Please balance the cruel remarks you see with the ones of appreciation for our vets in quite a few other diaries.

  •  My heart goes out to you, Ranger995 (7+ / 0-)

    Thank you for this enlightening diary.  Just being in those shoes is not necessarily enough to bring more clarity, but adding in your clear thinking and high integrity means this seems a nearly perfect subjective "explanation."

    I have many reactions.  First of all is how much good our country could be doing if the commitment and intelligence of people like you were being put to good use.

    Second, I recommend reading Bacevich for support for the points you make.  Our society has been militarized, and with that has grown the myth that war is a viable tool for enacting policy.  War is dehumanizing, brutal, and unpredictable.  It is not merely soft-heartedness that makes it appropriate only as a last resort--it's that it cannot be precisely targeted to produce predictable results.  Many on the left have bought into this myth--this needs to be purged.

    Finally, I want to ask if you've heard of a de-sensitization program that sounds very promising.  It is an immersion virtual reality program that brings the soldier back to familiar situations in a gradually escalating manner to enable them to integrate the experience and reset emotional reactions.  It's set in Iraq, but I expect the have, for example, an IED experience that would work for you, if you're interested.  I think it's called Virtual Iraq, but I'm having trouble finding the article.  The trials were done near San Diego.  I'll be back with the link when I find it.

    Thank you for being you, and doing so much.  I'm not into supporting this recent run to make soldiers into heroes--it's dangerous because they are believing the hype, with military folks now believing they are morally superior to the population they serve.  This is dangerous to democracy.  But I know a brave and decent person when I see one.  I salute you, sir, specifically for who you are.

    Legal chicanery and pitch darkness were the banker's stoutest allies. -1939

    by geomoo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:04:24 AM PDT

  •  Thank you for your invaluable contribution (5+ / 0-)

    to this issue from your first hand experience.

    I think we were warned again in the 2007 movie "In the Valley of Elah" that unspeakable events were taking place in Iraq. Some returning military are unable to bear the memories of what took place over there.

    That's why I find the escalation in Afghanistan to be a very bad decision on the part of President Obama. I can't see any justification for this nor any good to come out of it.

    This above all: to thine own self be true...-WS

    by Agathena on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:05:12 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the perspective (6+ / 0-)

    It is hard to put clearly but as the event has happened I cannot undo the tragedy. The waste. The horror. The sadness.

    But I am really sickened that the army chose to handle this by acting like it was all OK. This is something we as a Nation can fix. Army policy has to be changed to focus on actual events and not making shit up to create false myths. Mistakes do not need justifying they need study and review to reduce them in the future.

    I and any person watching this can tell that this mission went wrong and then it went horribly wrong. I don't want the soldiers punished but the lack of remorse or regret by the Army sickens me.

    I am recalling Pat Tillman's death. The Army pretending him into a valiant glorious effort and then it all falling apart into a death by friendly fire and a horrible cover up.

    "You know, just because the thing I saw wasn't there doesn't mean there wasn't something there that I didn't see." Ann Althouse, Conservative Thoughtmeister

    by Bill Section 147 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:05:58 AM PDT

  •  Not starting wars (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pesto, ranger995

    "So, I view that first part of the film as a tragic sequence that can only be avoided by not starting wars. Especially unnecessary wars. As long as there is war, there will be this kind of incident."

    Frankly, I agree.  And honestly, I'm of the opinion that the military should be abolished - when we spend this money on an army, there's too much temptation to use it.

    Maybe there's a just war here and there, but how much have we spent on unjust ones that we could have used on social programs?  How many innocent lives have been lost?  It's one thing to enter the fight to stop a Hitler, but do we really need to be replacing one dictator with another in Afghanistan or creating anarchy in Iraq?

  •  OUT NOW! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pesto, ranger995

    Everybody takes me too seriously. Nobody believes anything I say. - Philip Whalen, The Madness of Saul

    by rasbobbo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:08:43 AM PDT

  •  "There were no visible weapons " (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    Maybe not to the helicopter, but wasn't the helicopter communicating with someone on the ground?

    That's the problem with the video: it's just one perspective.

    •  There were visible weapons, there are two (5+ / 0-)

      quite clearly visible in the video.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:11:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, you can see weapons (5+ / 0-)

      You can see starting about 1:30 in the uncut video there's a guy in front of the photographer. It isn't clear what he is carrying until 1:55, then it seems like a strap and a bag. The crew voice says it's a weapon. The voice also says the photog is carrying a weapon, but all you can see it the camera strap and camera bag. Not a weapon.

      However, at 2:04 the crew look at some guys behind the photog. THOSE guys have AK-47s and one has what I would call an RPG or close enough.

      So I'm confused as to why the chopper crews know enough to ID an RPG and AK-47, but then look at people carrying something absolutely different and also call those AK-47 and RPG. I hate to say this, but they seem to be saying that everyone was armed on the street, including those who actually were. Very sloppy, imho

  •  Thanks for posting. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    The "callous" comments didn't concern me much either.  I'm sure much of it is merely a way of coping with the horrible thing you are actually doing.

    What bothered me was the incredibly cavalier way they determined that these were enemies.  It's as if the slightest hint that you might be an enemy is enough.  It's shocking given we are an occupying force.  And the van incident is so beyond inexcusable...  

  •  Even if one believes that this war is justified, (4+ / 0-)

    wouldn't that make one want to investigate this war crime even more?  Wouldn't they want to know why CrazyHorse et al became so sick as to say what they did and do what they did?

    Wouldn't the military want to know how many tours of duty they had and understand the warning signs before they reach that level of depravity?  Don't they want to prevent their soldiers from ever getting to that point of insanity?  

    The men gunned down on the ground are not the only casualties.  Their killers' souls and humanity are gone.  Even for those soldiers who are only part way to this level of sociopathy, how many will ever recover, especially since there is not enough psychiatric help for them to overcome their mental trauma when they come home?  The military doesn't want to pay for the sick soldiers they create, but only want to recruit new ones to use and toss away.

    If anyone is disrespectful to the soldiers, it's the higher ups who just don't care about their mental health and all of the innocent victims of these wars based on lies.

    What I cannot get over is how people digest Abu Ghraib, Fallujah, white phosphorus, depleted uranium and the cancer and birth defects it causes, and now this, but do not leap out of their arm chairs and call their Senators and Congressman and demand an end to this madness.

    Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson

    by CIndyCasella on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:16:42 AM PDT

  •  thanks for telling your story (11+ / 0-)

    From one veteran to another, our story isn't told enough...so thank you. I cannot rec this diary enough.

    While many non-veterans here can be described as anti-war, it unfortunately comes across as military-bashing and painting every soldier with the same broad brush. We need to tell our stories to give a face to the people we as a country ask to fight and die for us. All soldiers are not alike just as everyone here at Daily Kos is not alike.

    There is a reason that many fellow veterans I know are anti-war. After seeing the death and destruction caused by war and how it affects the survivors, we quickly come to the conclusion that most wars aren't worth the price paid by those forced to fight them. In many ways, the dead are the lucky ones. They are at peace and don't have to deal with the horrible memories of war that the living do. The living veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan will have issues for the rest of their lives, which will affect us all as a country.

    To bash the soldiers fighting the wars that they didn't choose is no better than the teabaggers bashing handicapped people at their rallies for relying on the government.

    April 10th is my 40th birthday. Please help me celebrate by donating to my MN AIDS Walk team

    by legendmn on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:18:13 AM PDT

  •  I've ben attacked for saying (3+ / 0-)

    that civilians don't get to judge from the safety of their own homes. We support the war effort until we see something icky, then we demonize the troops, our simultaneous heroes, victims, and criminals.

    We don't pursue war out of choice, to equally prevent innocents from dying AND troops from killing.

    This is what war is. And this is how warriors speak.

    •  Civilians do get to judge (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ranger995, kurt, JesseCW, oldhippie

      Soldiers fight in our names. We pay their salaries.

      In our brand of Democracy, soldiers don't have a monopoly on judging what's moral, the citizens have an equal right and role to play in that. One person, one moral opinion, soldier or not.

      That's not an attack on you, that's just the way a civilized society works.

  •  It's not hard to understand the hate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NearlyNormal, birdboy2000

    in the hearts of US soldiers. That's not really the problem on my end. We're already well aware of it. We saw our soldiers torture people, so we're already well aware of it.

    That's why many of us don't think you guys should be over there, not because it's the wrong mission necessarily, but because far too many of you can't be trusted to carry out your missions in a humanitarian way.

    If you can't do the jobs we pay you to do, then we really can't keep paying you guys to do them in the way you are, because war crime after war crime just makes America a bigger target for terrorists.

    Why would a person like myself want to pay people to make my family less safe by committing war crimes? If I can't trust US soldiers, then I really can't have you guys over there doing things in my name.

    Those are just the naked facts, devoid of judgement.

    And they're damning enough as it is. Now for my more personal feelings about soldiers, and getting into "judgement."

    I really can't even imagine what the rest of the world must think of American soldiers by now. I know my personal feelings about them have changed a lot over the last 10 years.

    I really used to defacto assume they were honorable people who were just being told to do dishonorable things by the Bush admin, but unfortunately I don't think that's really the case anymore.

    I think modern Americans have too much of a chip on their shoulders about what they're due and how much better they are than everyone else, and it results in way too much resentment and hate when they're put in situations like Afghanistan where they're asked to look after people who they evidently don't think very much of.

    The bottom line I think is that Americans have very little empathy as it is, and when you put them in situations like Afghanistan, they end up hating what they can't empathize with. And then come the war crimes.

    Maybe Americans always committed these war crimes and it just wasn't reported like it is now. If so, then we've forfeited our right as a  nation to go to war. If not, then until our culture is no longer as sick as it seems to be, we've likewise forfeited our right to go to war.

  •  this callousness is the horror war does to us (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DjW, ranger995, JRandomPoster

    what those who would rush into it seem to forget or deny.  Its' not just the material destruction or those killed.  Its' the scars everyone involved limps away with.  You can't quantify a war in terms of dollars or wounded or enemy killed.  Those who sat before congress or otherwise espoused the idea invading Iraq would cost only a few billion or even a few tens of billions so missed a larger cost.  Those who urged us to war pulled the trigger long before those gunners in the video.

    I wish you well and, never myself having been in a situation where I might have to kill, commend your efforts to maintain your humanity and dignity.

  •  It's the coverup (7+ / 0-)

    Focusing on the nightmare scene is a way to make the story "war is hell" explainable.  NPR story this morning was all about what was in the video. Very effective in burying the cover up part of the story. Even here, the cover up part gets light treatment.

    When events are covered up, rules of engagement cannot be modified based on the experience. Political decisions cannot be revisited with the new information. Military and civilians are both failed by a cover up.

  •  Thank you, and it shouldn't need saying (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, ranger995, Little

    No one mentioned that many of these young kids were going to have to deal with the after effects of killing.

    The thing we can't seem to talk about. As the father of a young boy, I pray that by the time he's of age we will have evolved enough as a society to divorce our national sense of self and economic dependence away from the military-industrial complex. For what it does to the rest of the planet, and what it does to us.

    My mother was always worried that her son would be drafted and end up coming home from "wherever" in a body bag. My fear and certainty from the beginning of this insanity we've engaged in is that the "hearts and minds" would come at the expense of a generation of our own young people's souls and sanity.

    Remember: It's nothing more than the biggest heist in human history.

    by DjW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:27:30 AM PDT

  •  This is one of the finest, most honest diaries (8+ / 0-)

    I have ever read here.  I know it must have been extremely painful to write, and I'm sure it's painful for you to live with your memories every day.  These are issues our country MUST deal with.  Thank you.

    We learn from our gardens to deal with the most urgent question of the time: How much is enough? --Wendell Berry

    by deeproots on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:28:37 AM PDT

  •  Vietnam redux (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    This is a lot like the view we got during the Vietnam war.  I know from talking to relatives who fought there that a lot horrible things like My Lai and so on happened there on a regular basis.  That knowledge led to the ending of that "long war". Hopefully, the knowledge of what our presence in these war zones is doing to those we sought to "help" will go a long way to bringing our boys and girls and men and women home.  Please God!

    First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Gandhi

    by flo58 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:29:29 AM PDT

  •  All wars require a continuous process to unearth (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, ranger995, CuriousBoston

    ....the ubiquitous atrocities and the ubiquitous cover-ups, along with the rapes, collateral casualties, land mines, unexploded ordinance, etc. - the usual accouterments of war.

    And for our country to function in a democracy as it was designed we require journalism with trusted content.

    Thank you for your diary.

    The mental illness created in war takes generations for all sides to cleanse from their cultures.

  •  the question isn't personal, it's political (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Linnaeus, ranger995, divineorder, IndieGuy

    Well, I have been there too, and I not only question the methods, but the system in general.

    this is what everyone is missing. The question isn't one of the personal culpability of individual soldiers. The question is the rules of engagement, and actual military culture, that expects people to act in certain ways, that absolutely guarantees atrocities.

    What you're seeing in the video are a bunch of people in an attack helicopter cruising over a big city way out of range of any possible hostile fire. Being so high up, they also can't really identify clearly who's armed and who isn't. Yet they are still allowed to open fire on anyone who they think might be armed, even if there is no specific reason to believe such people might be trying to attack anyone, let alone US forces, and this, in the middle of a huge city full of people who can normally be expected to be wandering around carrying all sorts of objects of all sorts of sizes that might be construed, from high high up in the air, to be be a weapon. How can allowing people to blow away groups of people from high up in the air like that, without really checking who they are and what they're up to, not lead to the murder of innocents? But the murderers aren't the individual troops so much as the generals and politicians who established these rules of engagement to begin with.

    As for attacking the rescuers - yeah, that's especially outrageous, but again, that's the problem with the rules of engagement that have been set up.

    Why were these rules of engagement set up? In many wars, you don't make up rules that are guaranteed to lead to the death of thousands of innocent civilians. In fact, the use of indiscriminate air power in a city that you yourself militarily occupy is (as Juan Cole keeps pointing out) widely considered to be a war crime. The US basically was the government in Baghdad. This would be like the NYPD floating above the city in a helicopter and opening fire on anyone they thought might be an armed gang member, or dropping bombs on neighborhoods in the Bronx (the US did often bomb civilian neighborhoods in Baghdad) because they thought gangs were using them as safe-houses.

    The rules were made up for a simple reason: politicians, drawing on the example of Vietnam, made the calculation that there is a direct relation between the number of US soldiers coming back in body-bags, and the degree of popular resistance to the war. If they can keep US casualties to a minimum, they figured, there would be no massive anti-war movement, or even sentiment. So they set up rules of engagement that guaranteed that events like this would happen - that lots of innocent Iraqi civilians, who did not ask to be invaded or occupied, who were just trying their best to survive in a city that had through no choice of their own become a war zone - would get mowed down by people so high up in the air (since after all, we have to keep those soldiers out of harms' way!) just to be on the safe side. Or that thousands of Iraqi children would lose arms and legs so that US soldiers wouldn't have to. That was a calculated decision. It was a deeply immoral decision. Rather than quibble about what was going on in any particular soldiers' mind, whether they were a good or bad person, we need to look at the larger picture: these guys were shoved in a situation where they were basically guaranteed to commit atrocities like this.

    We need to attack the institution, the culture, the political assumptions that say it's okay to blow the legs off little old ladies that never tried to harm us or leave children that never tried to harm us without eyes and noses for the rest of their lives, so that members of our all-volunteer military force occupying a foreign country that had never attacked us, should not be put "in harm's way."  The extraordinary thing is that so many people even on a liberal blog can't see the utter moral perversion in this. "It's okay to do things that will guarantee the deaths of hundreds of babies because we must protect our troops." Sure, as long as they're somebody else's babies. Can you even imagine what we'd think of people who were occupying our country and adopted rules of engagement like that? How we'd feel if the situation were reversed, and we were reading Iraqi blogs where people were saying, well, I don't know the details, but the important thing is to support the Iraqi troops occupying America, because they're at war, there, and they need to do whatever it takes to protect their comrades, and if thousands of American civilians therefore have to die or be maimed, well, c'est la guerre, what are people complaining about?

  •  This is a rare must-read diary. (13+ / 0-)

    Excellent.

    For what it's worth, I think your experience is the norm, not the exception.

    It's a natural first impulse to want to retaliate when we've been harmed, or when those we care about are injured.

    War, by its definition, creates an us versus them mentality.  It requires us to dehumanize the enemy.  Otherwise, the grim reality of killing a fellow human being - someone's son or daughter, someone's husband or wife, someone's father or mother - is too much to bear.

    Sometime, I'd like you to consider writing a diary about the debriefing process and how the VA/military is working to help active duty servicemembers to re-assimilate into their home culture and civilian life.

    My Marine-turned-Nashville-cop cousin has gone through it - and he's in a very tough job because it's easy for the old adrenaline systems to kick in when he's apprehending a criminal here in Nashville.

    "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

    by Benintn on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:33:16 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary (5+ / 0-)

    Have you considered writing a book about your experiences?

    www.bushwatch.net - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:37:40 AM PDT

  •  Thank you Ranger (10+ / 0-)

    for this post. And thank you for your service for all of us.

    This video is now rightfully in the public sphere so that we can debate things such as: what happens when you start a war, rules of engagement, PTSD, military cover ups, etc...

    These are critical questions that need to be a fully understood part of any lead-up to war as well as the prosecution of that war and the aftermath.

    War is sadly sometimes necessary in our world. However, War has consequences, very serious consequences that must be understood and dealt with in the light of day for the good of the nation but in particular for the good of the men and women that we send to engage in that war.

    What happens when you start a war....

    Well... the events depicted on that tape happen. They are almost inevitable in some shape or form. You describe that very well in telling how you felt (and feel) in response to IED's.

    you say

    You may not understand these emotions

    And you talk of dark places in the mind and the desire respond out of those places and the horror that comes out of it.

    Let me say that I at least do understand and that your reponse is perfectly natural, normal and understandable. It is exactly one of those things that happens to good, decent people when we start a war and place you in an otherwise unacceptable situation.

    Likewise what we see and hear on the video. It is what happens when those normal responses to unacceptable situations are not dealt with properly in the light of day.

    Another question is... what next?

    How do we as a society help you as a good man make the transition back into the more normalized situations at home after completely desensitizing you to death and destruction.

    How do we as a society help those men make that transition back home? How do we help them come back to a normal place of mind and how do we help them deal with what they have done when out of that normal place?

    We as a society are fully to blame for what happened on that video.

    We as a socity are fully to blame for those dark thoughts that haunt you.

    I apologize to you for that. It's not any fault on your part. The fault on the part of those guys in the video is partially theirs for going that step too far but it is more fully their commanders and the militaries as a whole for not properly dealing with those emotional overloads when they were still containable and directable.

    And they are all of ours for putting them in that situation to begin with.

    Sadly the human race has not evolved enough to where is unnecessary. But war is a tool to be used as rarely as possible and these are the reasons why.

    Peace be with you my brother,

    Andrew

     

    REBOOTNY.org - Time to reboot the New York State Senate

    by Andrew C White on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:38:55 AM PDT

  •  Inorder to wage war (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Jimbo47

    to serve and protect your country your freedom, you would need an enemy state who was a threat or a danger to your freedom. Insurgents seem to be our enemy and civilians who won't go along with our wars of aggression and occupations. I do not support the troops they volunteered to go and kill people who they call terrorists, or create havens for terrorists. They are not they are humans who where born into a society that we feel is barbaric or not 'democratic'. They are the victims here not the enemy.  

    In what way are these killers we train to subdue those we invade, and the rules of engagement that give a sense of form or legitamy to this slaughtering are totally insane. You can't have it both ways when they sign up for killing like this. while I have compassion for these lost sould who join I in no way support them or what they do as it is illegal immoral and has no justification other then misplaced nationalism the kind of nationalism that never goes to war to protect anything but a nations lust for dominance and power.  

    The whole premise is insane, how can an immoral 'war' designed to shock and awe a people who we historically have betrayed and fucked with for decades have any rules of engagement or in any way be considered honorable or protecting our freedom. Our freedom to kill and steal from people who's land and resources we decide are needed for geoplotics or 'security'. this is not our army it's Olivers plain and simple these are not our troops they belong to military which no longer serves and protects our freedoms but aids and abets the entities that make a killing out of killing in our name.
       

  •  Thank you for your honesty, courage and service (4+ / 0-)

    I heard about the video on Democracy Now this morning.  Amy Goodman had aired some of the audio clips.  If it was painful for a civilian like me to hear, I can only imagine how almost unbearable it must have been for you and others who served in Afghanistan and Iraq.    

    http://www.democracynow.org/...

    Take care.

  •  Sums up my thoughts of why war is always a last (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat, ranger995, geez53, GrouchoKossak

    resort, thank you for your clear and pertinent diary.

    Oh no, the dead have risen and they're voting Republican. - Lisa Simpson

    by LaFeminista on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 11:48:35 AM PDT

  •  Rules of warfare? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sandy on Signal, Catte Nappe

    We are fighting against an enemy who engages in hostility while dressed in civilian clothing.  One tragic consequence of this strategy is that when fighters look like civilians, civilians look like fighters.

    It's very easy to look at the tape and conclude that the servicemen erred in their judgement, but it is also obvious that they thought they were engaging insurgents.

    They were wrong.  Unfortunately, we cannot implement a policy that says, "Do not shoot at people dressed as civilians, and do not shoot at civilian vehicles."  If we did that, we would not fire a single shot.

  •  More from NYT and Wash Post (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, kurt

    NYT has a new piece on it's front page on the web which includes this link to a section of a Wash Post piece that has part of a book written by a journalist who was embeded when they came to the dead and wounded right after
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

  •  From another OEF Vet, THANK YOU! (9+ / 0-)

    Thank you so much for relating your take on this event and the coverup that has spawned it. I was also tasked to Afghanistan (Bagram AB) and, although, we came under fire far less frequently than it sounds like you did, it was a harrowing experience that produced feelings and emotions that are still hard for me to come to grips with sometimes also. I believe that your analysis here is spot-on and should be printed in every major newspaper in the country. It's far past time for the Pentagon to start living up to their obligation to the troops that have been systematically desensitized to the dehumanization of "the enemy" and put through hell (as war has been so aptly described) in places like Bagram and Kabul and Kunar and Tikrit and Fallujah and Danang and on and on. We need to have an open national discussion about the real costs of war and the toll it takes on our soldiers...not just physically but mentally. Again, thank you for this sober and incite-full take!

    "This is where some of my dreams become realities. And where some of my realities become dreams." -Willie Wonka

    by green917 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:19:21 PM PDT

  •  It is interesting to read the comments (7+ / 0-)

    in this excellent and provocative diary.  There is more discussion than there are stones being thrown. The diarist's reasoned approach to a problem that is endemic to war is remarkable, thought provoking and important beyond measure.

    Mankind's inherent ability to dehumanize others is not just something that surfaces in a warzone...it is not just something that a soldier 'learns' in basic training.  

    There are transferable concepts in this discussion that are valuable to daily life...a life in which bullets are not flying.

    "I don't understand how I came to use these colors in my design. It would be understandable if I had been working in the dark..." Dellia Sallo

    by trinityfly on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:22:10 PM PDT

  •  I haven't been able to bear to watch (8+ / 0-)

    the video or read the long and contentious diary threads.  But I'm glad I finally read this diary.  

    I value the balanced perspective of someone who has been through it yet still retains good values.

    Well, I have been there too, and I not only question the methods, but the system in general. It is amazing to me that this video had to be leaked. If the military had just been open and addressed the issue publicly and definitively, they wouldn't create the feelings of anger toward all members of the military.

    Thank you for posting.

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:22:45 PM PDT

  •  War Crimes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kurt

    This video is in a way a testimony of war crimes in Iraq.  The real war criminals? Bush, Cheney, Rice, Colin Powell, and others who lied or covered up the lies that started this despicable war.

  •  Thank you for this (6+ / 0-)

    I accidentally hit the "recommend" button twice, and ended up unrecommending, so count this as my rec. And thanks particularly for this:

    What bothers me the most is that the military tried to cover it up. These types of things need to be out in the open and addressed immediately by the people in charge. We MUST have a collective conscience, our entire society. We have to show everyone that this is unacceptable, and make efforts to prevent such things from happening again.

    It's better for the military personnel involved to have these incidents to have transparency and to have them resolved. It's better for us as a country to understand exactly what is happening in our name. And it's better for our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan to come clean when incidents like this happen.

    You explain that all very well with this post.

  •  Thank you, both for your service and (5+ / 0-)

    for this diary.

    I can't pretend to have any conception of the emotional and psychological space that a soldier must be in.  I have nothing in my own experience to draw from, and the more I can read from someone who's been through this, processed it, and can speak about it intelligently, the better.

    The only thing I can offer is: have you seen The Hurt Locker? (Bear with me)  One of the really remarkable things that the director does is put you in an uncomfortable space where you become more and more paranoid about the possibility that civilians might be armed and might want to kill you.  There's no 'moment' where you become aware of this, but the creeping, insinuating fact of war - of specifically this type of war - makes it almost inevitable.  You start the movie feeling detached and able to judge events critically with distance, but by the end you're looking at everyone suspiciously.  It's wrong, but it's not like you have the luxury to feel otherwise.  I found it helpful to be put into that perspective, if only as a corrective against too-lazy readings where I can imagine myself in Kabul never ever mistaking a civilian for an insurgent, never making a mistake, and never having to live with the consequences.  

    You've done a sensitive and fair reading of the video, and I hope justice moves in the direction you suggest.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 12:57:46 PM PDT

  •  Is anybody talking (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SallyCat

    about this video or is it another "internet-only" phenomenon?

  •  I've been watching MSNBC all day... (5+ / 0-)
    And they're just pretending that the first part of the tape is all there is.

    Ratagan, Shultz, the people in the morning whose names I never remember...

    They haven't even shown the van, the haven't mentioned the kids, nothing.

    The Cover-Up isn't just continuing, but as far as I can tell, the US media are completely complicit.

    I don't know if they're pissed about being "scooped" by an outfit like Wikileaks, or if it's about maintaining access to Pentagon spokespeople...but it's surreal.

    Satrap Wanted. Lawless Central Asian region needs firm hand. Compensation paid in Opium, or an equal weight in Catamites. Must stay bought!

    by JesseCW on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:11:41 PM PDT

  •  Thank you for your service - really, what the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    soldiers did was to me symptomatic of the not too revelatory observation that War is Hell.  This does not forgive the most egregious of actions - just like the worst actions in Vietnam or Abu Gharib are not forgiveable - but it does explain them.

    We ask our folks to make a serious emotional and personal sacrifice - and we program them to a degree.  And then our media and popular culture cheerleads like they are the Green Bay Packers.  Maybe breaks are inevitable in a lot of cases.  I don't profess to know here.

    Wikileaks is doing a great service - however painful the results.  That the media is being scooped by them is pretty sad.  But at least Bob Woodward is getting tasty meals out of it.

  •  Thank you. Given the daily risk of death you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    faced, I can understand completely how you felt.  Your analysis of your own situation proves to me you have your head on straight, and I admire you tremendously for maintaining a sense of humanity, no matter how strained it may have become.

    This situation, though, does not meet the criteria you have described.  Why?  Because the people in the Apache were at relatively low risk.  How many Apaches have been shot down in Iraq?  Certainly in this case the people they killed posed no threat to them personally.  It was a turkey shoot, to be blunt, a sporting event.  The fear you expressed, while not excusing bad behavior, at least explains the motivation behind it.  I see no evidence that these helicopter troops felt the least bit of fear.  My hunch is that their tour of duty is dominated by boredom, not fear.

    Their attitude  is reminiscent of that displayed by Japanese captors as they brutally murdered American and Filipino soldiers on the Bataan death march, or that of SS troopers shooting innocent Jewish victims.  I feel the same way about what these guys did as I did the first time I saw film of the aforementioned atrocities.

    The only rationale behind their actions I can see other than sociopathic behavior is utter stupidity.

    God help us if this is what is coming home to roost in America.

    "A man of true science uses but few hard words, and those only when none other will answer his purpose..." - Melville

    by ZedMont on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:40:11 PM PDT

  •  Yeah, the cover up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    What bothers me the most is that the military tried to cover it up

    That's the bitch. Bad things happen in the military, even in our local police forces. And there's a fine line between an officer or troop saving his or her ass (which is what we all want our police and military to do) and being outrageously aggressive (which becomes appalling).

    So, sometimes good people are going to make bad choices and have to pay for it, perhaps even with jail time. Even though everyone understands how it happens . . . if you kill inappropriately, jail time is the cost. I think even the perpetrators can go on with their lives in a more healthy way if they are made to pay publicly in this way.

    So, it's the coverup that damns everyone. Stupid stupid stupid. But, as long as Americans don't want honest conversations about the realities of war, the commercial interests that make money off of war will continue to influence government to collude in endless coverups of all the horrors of organized armed conflict. end rant.

    My uncle killed himself after serving in Korea. We don't know why. But perhaps we do . . .

  •  as long as we keep glorifying (5+ / 0-)
    and glamorizing the wars and our military, our society will not come to grips with who we are.

    And the ones REALLY responsible - the politicians and the Americans who support them and cheer on wars - they need to watch hours and hours of video like this so that they UNDERSTAND what evil they have done.

    War cannot be waged to instill any virtue, including democracy or the liberation of women. - Chris Hedges

    by dancewater on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:53:59 PM PDT

  •  Thanks so much for this diary. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, thereisnospoon, geez53

    We need more honest and lucid accounts like yours to be part of our national discourse.  Thank you.

    The past is never dead. It's not even past. - William Faulkner

    by Jimbo47 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 01:58:33 PM PDT

  •  Another thank you among the many (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    A very, very thoughtful and well-written diary.  I don't know how anyone could have said it with any more clarity and truthfulness.  Thank you so very, very much.

  •  I have nothing to add (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    You and the others have said it all.

    It hurts that we dehumanize both the "enemy" and ourselves.  War has always been glorified only by the old men (sorry if this sounds sexist) who are safely away from the action and think of it as a glorious game.  

    Thank you for telling us your truth.  

  •  Thank you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, kurt, Amber6541

    for writing about your experiences and giving us your perspective. The only way to bring the discourse about the wars we are currently in to a level where some real, helpful action can be taken is to make the general public more aware of the reality of those wars for the soldiers.

    It's very, very easy for people who have never been shot at, never watched a friend die, and never faced the reality of combat to spout rhetoric and judge a situation. And it's very, very easy for people who have been in combat to have their perspectives colored by their experiences. Somehow we all have to meet in the middle, and to do that we need to understand diverse perspectives.

    Thank you for your service, and your candor.

  •  I never saw combat when I was in, but I know (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, kurt, Amber6541

    that even in training exercises mistakes can be made. Especially when you just fast-roped into a 'hostile' situation (embassy evac exercise) and before you know it, 'friendlies' have taken casualties. I've experienced in training, and can only imagine how much more difficult it can be when your life is really on the line (although fast-roping isn't always safe either).

    Still doesn't excuse any attempt to cover up the incident. And of course as we almost to a person here understand, the best way to avoid this is to not invade other nations just because your pres wants to 'cowboy' up.

    "No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government. Always hopeful yet discontent, he knows changes aren't permanent. But change is." -Neil Peart

    by Boisepoet on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:37:08 PM PDT

  •  Twice the number of civilians are killed in war (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    than soldiers killed. That's in every war, always. Civilians always suffer, which is a good reason to avoid war.

    So, I view that first part of the film as a tragic sequence that can only be avoided by not starting wars.

    Elizabeth Warren: My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.

    by mrobinson on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:38:55 PM PDT

    •  War is mainly innocent bystanders getting hurt. (0+ / 0-)

      Unless a few bombs go off in command bunkers, that is.

      the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear

      by Salo on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:41:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There was bloodthirst after 9/11. It rallied us (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    to war. Thank you media for helping do that. I was pleased to see on TV the heavy bombardment of mountain caves filled with terrorists and probably their families. Go to hell bastards! Watching Baghdad exploding on TV under shock and awe was beautiful. Go to hell bastards! Hardly any casualties (Mission Accomplished). Terrorists rounded up and locked in cages to rot forever was too good for them.

    No dead bin Laden. No WMDs found. Thousands of American soldiers killed and they are still dying under a Democratic president and Congress. Tens of thousands wounded. Soldiers coming home with PTSD and the VA hospitals don't deal with it. Their facilities found falling apart. Nothing but the best for them! Americans are discovered torturing prisoners. Civilians in war torn countries getting killed and their deaths covered up. U.S. paid mercenaries out of control and incompetent government paid contractors killing Americans. Oh, oh. Not good. No, this is fucked up.

    So this is what war is like on the homefront? If we "win" the historians will sanitize it so it looks like WWII and The Greatest Generation. The Civil War freed the slaves. The American Revolution created the longest lasting democracy. WWI the war to end all wars. The Korean War made a hit TV show M.A.S.H. Vietnam still needs a lot of P.R. work. We'll have to wait for that generation to die to fix up that war's image. How else do they whoop it up for the next generation's war?

    The peaceniks are fighting a losing battle even by disclosing shocking videos. Very unfortuante for everybody.

    Support good reform not a political party blindly.

    by Eposter on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:40:50 PM PDT

  •  10 million said No Iraq War (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    But Bush invaded anyway. The majority of Democrats in the House of Representatives voted against the invasion of Iraq. We marched side by side with Jim McDermott, our congressman. Not so for the Senate Dems. They "let slip the dogs of war" that not one of them, including Bush, has paid for the war in blood or sorrow or accountability.

    The February 15, 2003 anti-war protest was a coordinated day of protests across the world against the imminent invasion of Iraq. Millions of people protested in approximately 800 cities around the world. According to BBC News, between six and ten million people took part in protests in up to sixty countries over the weekend of the 15th and 16th; other estimates range from eight million to thirty million. Wikipedia[1][2]

    I broke my heart on that protest.

    Elizabeth Warren: My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.

    by mrobinson on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 02:50:24 PM PDT

  •  The civilian face of war - all war (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    Elizabeth Warren: My first choice is a strong consumer agency. My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor.

    by mrobinson on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:04:38 PM PDT

  •  And why am I supposed to believe that Iran (0+ / 0-)

    is a threat to World peace?  I think it's more than obvious that the blood-thirsty country of America is the biggest threat to global peace.

    In fact, I think it's pretty justified for Iran to have a nuclear weapon - to defend itself against the threat posed by America and its ally Israel.

  •  Dehumanization is the Root of All Evil. (0+ / 0-)

    Before oppressors can inflict horror upon their victims, the oppressors must perceive their victims as inhuman vermin.

    But when the oppressors do this, they also dehumanize themselves; because they have suppressed their sense of empathy for the victims.

    Empathy is the root of all that is good in humanity.  The things we value the most: Democracy, Justice, Mercy, Kindness, etc.....all these social goods are the distillation of thousands of years of common empathic experiences. We know that all people must have social goods, if we are to have them for ourselves.

    By its very definition and nature, psychopathic evil is synonymous with the absence of empathy. War is a vast, industrialized pursuit of dehumanization and it is one of the ultimate evils that humanity inflicts upon itself.

    In this light, the right wing reveals its fundamental nature through its "war" on the concept of empathy.

    This Space For Rent

    by xynz on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:07:30 PM PDT

  •  Why are we surprised? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, TazminDezno

    I held off on watching the video because I am always loathe to be a spectator to horror, but I finally decided to watch Democracy Now.

    Having watched the video, and as horrifying and heartbreaking as I found it - I have to ask - are we really surprised at not only the killings, but the soldiers' responses to them? Are we surprised? Shocked? Outraged?

    Because if we are, we are really fooling ourselves.

    I'm not in the military, but from a commonsense perspective, when you are in war, you have to view the other side as your enemy. You can't kill someone if you like them, so you have to view them as other, and less than - yourself. You can't see the little girl in the van and think of your little girl tucked away safely in America, otherwise you would never be able to pull the trigger.  And after all, that is part of the reason you sign up for war. To be able to pull the trigger - to be a good soldier, all in the defense of liberty.

    War is brutal. Always was, always will be. It's never pretty. It's never clean. Some believe it's a necessary evil. Some believe that it's never justified. I tend to fall somewhere in between, because I know that the cost is always unimaginable.

    The cost is in lost fathers and in lost souls. The cost is coldly shooting down the "enemy" and rationalizing it.  The cost is always in one's "patriotic duty."

    It's haunting to look into the eyes of those 2 children who survived. Haunting.

  •  "We MUST have a collective conscience" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, Cassandra Waites

    That's such a profound phrase.

    I like how you used it, where you used it, in explaining why we have to have these things out in the open. I really get for the first time, what tremendous harm is done by trying to cover these things up.

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:14:25 PM PDT

  •  STOP calling this a war! A war implies (3+ / 0-)

    2 more or less equal (in terms of manpower, weaponry, etc.) sides fighting for some fucking reason.  

    No, this is state-sponsored terrorism, occupation, genocide, whatever else you want to call it - but it's most certainly not a "war."  

  •  You're Right, Ranger995 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    You, your comrades, and two of my children signed on to defend our country, and instead your commitment to service was used for shit like this.

    Damn Bush, Rumsfeld, and the Republicans: this is their work.

    I am so looking forward to their war crimes trials, and their ultimate...oh, sorry...I got carried away for a moment there...

    "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."—J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

    by skeezixwolfnagle on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 03:32:07 PM PDT

  •  Biggest take home lesson, both from the.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    video and this well written diary:
    Putting young soldiers into a foriegn war zone where the enemy and the innocent are nearly indistinguishable will always and reliably result in this sort of event.
    The US military is supremely good at bringing massive force to bear on a target.  But if it's the wrong target, that's neither humane nor helpful.
    And an essential part of every war is the dehumanization of the enemy - whether krauts, japs, gooks, ragheads or whatever.  All countries at war do that, it's the only way sane young people can be made to kill people who have done them no personal harm.  If you are fighting a war against an entire country, it's a tactically useful thing to do.  But if the enemy and the people we are supposed to be "helping" are essentially the same people and impossible to tell apart, that process leads directly to My Lai, to the incident in this video and to hundreds of other similar but unknown events.  Why putting our forces into a country they don't know, with a language they don't understand in service to an ill-defined mission is always futile and always wrong.  No matter what the supposed cause

    "I was asked what I thought of the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea" - Amy Goodman.

    by Chico David RN on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 05:06:59 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for your diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    I hope that you continue to heal by sharing your grief about what happened to you.That is the way we heal,from sharing our pain as big as it is.When I think of all thew guys coming back with emotional scares who will not get the care that they need,it burns in my solar plexus and I feel kinda sick.
    Until we stop denying our addiction to war and violence,we will be stuck in never-ending war.Whether or not they know it,our leaders are the most violent people on earth.That is why are too ashamed to be honest.They are killing the spirit of America as they continue to send our young men and women to hell on earth.

    "Someday,all those cocksuckers will get caught." Frank Zappa `88

    by sully18 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 05:23:20 PM PDT

  •  Pat Tillman n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    barnowl, ranger995

    n/t

    "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore." --Emma Lazarus, 1883

    by arnott on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 05:36:30 PM PDT

  •  What are the rules of engagement (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    in Iraq? is what I would like to know.

    Not being a military person, all I have to go on is what's presented to me by Hollywood (like "Black Hawk Down", where soldiers were being shot at, but didn't return fire until it was "close", or "Rules of Engagement" where they weren't allowed to fire unless first fired upon).

    When I watched the video, I saw a bunch of guys walking around in a courtyard, possibly carrying weapons, but at no time did I see the Apache get fired upon. If the Apache was only allowed to return fire, not initiate contact, then they clearly violated the Rules of Engagement.

    The situation gets muddier if the Rules of Engagement allow for feelings of threat. When the camera guy kneels down behind the wall on the streetcorner, I can see how the Apache crew could feel threatened by that... but at the same time, they quickly lost sight of the group because of the nearby buildings. When they had regained line of sight, the group wasn't pointing anything at the helicopter, just standing around on the streetcorner... and the Apache still lit them up.

    Regardless of that hair-splitting, however, I completely agree with you that the true damning footage occurs when the van arrives to rescue the survivor. Firing on wounded people is against the Geneva Convention, if nothing else, and there were no weapons or anything that could even be mistaken for weapons.

  •  I really, really appreciate your diary, your (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    experience, and the lengths to which you have gone to explain the atmosphere and motivations involved. I do think that it is very important not to go to war needlessly and to have a very clear mission that is based on factual information.

    I do think that most people are traumatized not only by experiencing violence but also by perpetrating it. Although perhaps many would not agree, I think that individuals subjected to or participating in war pay a terrible price (usually acknowledged, often treated as shameful) not just physically but psychologically.

    Want jobs? Invest in Infrastructure: Energy, Transportation, Technology, and Education

    by lecsmith on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 06:57:44 PM PDT

  •  The point of war.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    ...is organized slaughter, and from the first day of basic training, the socialization of combat troops is to overcome any prior inhibitions about killing on command, killing with a fast trigger, killing whenever a sense of the enemy is present.  To suggest otherwise is at best disingenuous.

    To me, as a result, focusing on 'rules of engagement' or on other criticisms of a bureaucratic nature begs the primary question that this video raises, to wit, "What purposes, interests, or social goals does our constant warfare since 2002 serve?"  As this poster so poignantly shares, such a situation as the release of this video, and the underlying carnage that it depicts, is something that the soldiers themselves will have to deal with, probably for the rest of their lives.  The Times headline today, about an "epidemic" of suicides in the Army, makes perfect sense in the context of the release of this account by Wikileaks.  Such emotional damage, the horror of murdering innocent civilians, and so forth, are very compelling, but they miss the main underlying issue, which is that a political impetus toward militarism exists that is outside of any sort of democratic control, despite(or perhaps as evidenced by)the fact that it is firmly under Democratic, and GOP, and corporate control.

    No one should mistake what I am saying; we are all, as Americans, culpable for this travesty of justice.  The point that I want to make is that until we begin to converse about ending imperial control, finding a way to return popular power to the military machine, and on on and on and on, then all we are doing is playing a game of expiation, breast-thumping, and brow-beating.  If we do not organize to transform imperial control of government, from this day forward, what happened in this video will be like a spat in a kindergarden sandbox compared to what is coming, just over the horizon.

    I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

    by SERMCAP on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:02:56 PM PDT

    •  I'm not sure I agree with your authoritative (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon, SERMCAP

      opinion on this, but I do appreciate the comment. I think we need to take this conversation to the next level, before the companies like Blackwater have taken over the mission entirely.

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:10:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I appreciate your note... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranger995, joanneleon

        ...though just because I write passionately, or express a definite opinion, does not mean I consider myself any kind of authority.  I merely am exercising my rights as a citizen and, as you point out, suggesting that all of us 'take this to a higher level' that engages a spirit at once more democratic and more populist than much of what appears on this and other 'progressive' sites, which often does not go beyond a shallow endorsement of policies that we like or a vitriolic attack on policies which we detest.

        I'm calling for us to begin the process of contextualizing a real people-power takeover of the entire policy process, so as possibly to save our asses and hopefully to create more room for our kids and grandkids to have some sort of human existence in a world that will otherwise exist under the thumb of Blackwater and worse.

        I bow to those who seek the truth; I flee from those who have 'found' it.

        by SERMCAP on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:58:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I realize your point, and I also realized that (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          joanneleon, SERMCAP

          the first sentence I wrote might be too strong. I did not mean to provoke, and I am very glad you responded. It is hard to argue with this. We need to return to fundamentals on so many issues. This is just one of many. Thanks

          I'm calling for us to begin the process of contextualizing a real people-power takeover of the entire policy process, so as possibly to save our asses and hopefully to create more room for our kids and grandkids to have some sort of human existence in a world that will otherwise exist under the thumb of Blackwater and worse.

          "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

          by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 08:02:19 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this amazing diary. Just wish... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, BigAlinWashSt

    I really can't think anything to add, except thank you for sharing this and I hope as many people as possible have a chance to read it.

    I just wish there were more people of sound mind and heart pulling the levers of our system and not just the triggers. Unfortunately, the way the system is setup is seems that there isn't enough room for people like you in places like the Pentagon or near the top of the hierarchy of our military divisions.

    Fox News and WWE: Because delusional people need news and sports also. -5.12/-5.28

    by gimmeshelter on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:08:10 PM PDT

  •  You the man ranger. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    I'm late, but wanted to chime in with the kudos.

    "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

    by BigAlinWashSt on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:50:35 PM PDT

    •  Hey Big Al, always glad to read your words. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BigAlinWashSt

      Thanks and no,

      YOU DA MAN

      "Sir, you look like the piss boy."

      by ranger995 on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 07:53:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think what you've written shows a rare quality. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ranger995

        And obviously many people agree, as they should.  I consciously have to remind myself on "who to blame" when it comes to these wars and our foreign policies.  So while the conversation on the video was disturbing, my first instinct is to wonder why.  You've provided a great narrative for that with your personal experience.  Plus, I've seen you grow on here, it's a pleasure.

        "Peace cannot be achieved by force. It can only be achieved by understanding" Albert Einstein

        by BigAlinWashSt on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 08:04:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for writing this. (3+ / 0-)

    I wanted to read a military perspective on this very issue and you have written clearly and concisely exactly what I wanted to know.

    I hate that this has to be viewed through any "political" lens. I'm tired of the actions of our military being used by one side or the other either justify/vilify the war.  The military does the job they are told to do - and when they don't follow orders, they should be held accountable.  That's what bothers me most about this - who is going to be held accountable?

    If it had been handled properly in the first place, the soldiers in the helicopter should have been the ones held accountable. Possibly the next in the chain of command.  But now?  High heads should roll for covering up what never should have been hidden.  But I have yet to see any officers of rank take any responsibility for their troops or for illegal action in this war.  I doubt anyone will step up to the plate for this one.  That's what makes me sad and angry.

    •  Responsibility falls squarely (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      joanneleon

      on the head of those who started the war. This is what happens in war. This IS what happens in all wars. This has happened in all wars. The devil dances at the sound of war because all reason is lost when bullets and bombs began to fly.

      Shamefully we now learn that Saddam's torture chambers reopened under new management, U.S. management. Edward Kennedy

      by Klick2con10ue on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 09:38:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for your service man (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    The first rule of war is that people die. I think that every action of combat should be broadcast and every American required to watch it all the way through.

    If they did that this war would be over in a week.

    It won't happen and it shouldn't but if more Americans knew what war is really like, I'd like to think that there would be less war.

    Thanks Again...Be Well

    Republicans only care about republicans. Democrats care about the Republic.

    by beaukitty on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 08:42:16 PM PDT

  •  It will be a test of the military and the Obama (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    administration to see how this is handled. As a Vietnam era sergeant, I am cynical. That is, from what I experienced and from reports of what happened in Iraq, it seems that the ones who should be punished are field grade officers and above. However, it seems most likely that those who will be punished will be E-5's and below.

    To the teabaggers "May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen." Sam Adams

    by shigeru on Tue Apr 06, 2010 at 10:05:39 PM PDT

  •  I concur (0+ / 0-)

    I agree with all of that. It's precisely how i felt as i watched. And it's doubly-sickening to know that these Marines thought that they were doing the right thing. The comments they made are only a punch to the gut because we know there are innocent people bleeding out down there. The comments themselves are ho-hum in the grand scheme of every-fucking-war-ever. They suck, but only inasmuch as war sucks. Here, though, it's impossible to listen without horror.

    And they never should have destroyed the van and its occupants. That was all wrong. It's possible that more Bad Guys might have been trying to save one of their own (and his weapon) but the battle zone is a freaking city. Hell, i'd stop to help out, too, if a bunch of civilians had just been shot up. People do that. It maybe wouldn't be habit-forming, given this instructive video.

    Maybe, if this was out in the country-side, where the vehicle could at least be tracked first. But they think it's ok to light up some random vehicle that stops on a city street because they—the "Bad Guys"—might save a single RPG? No—that's just fucking ignorant.

    Having said that, please keep in mind that the zoomed-in parts showing children in the van are zoomed-in. The marines did not have that luxury at the time. While it's useful to include them i hope that viewers keep some perspective.

    I never fired on innocent people, but the urge was there. I wondered if they weren't pretending and in some way helping the other side.

    I think that i understand that. I'm not a veteran, but i think i can imagine the scenario well enough. And it's precisely where the snipers are leading you. It's akin to the fear and uncertainty about those Afghan (or Iraqi) troops that the enemy plants in the minds of those who work with them, every time one of their number¹ suddenly blows away a coalition soldier or CIA officer. I wonder if you'd like to touch upon that, given the close nature of your relationship with them during your mission.

    Thanks so much for posting this.

    ¹ Or a pretender, at any rate. There have been many attacks perpetrated by men in false uniforms. Many more than those by actual soldiers or police, AFAICT.

  •  Thank you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, TomB

    for an honest, thoughtful diary.  I saw it earlier today, but didn't have time to read it, so I came back and was thankful it was still on the rec list.  I am the daughter of a career Marine (who thankfully never had to serve in combat), so I have some small sense of the complexity of what it means to serve.  But your words--honest, haunting and true, drive home the harsh reality that war creates circumstances that dehumanize those involved--on all sides.  You are one of the lucky ones--you survived, and you are able to look back on your experience with some perspective and even forgiveness.  I worry most for the young Marines and soldiers who do not know how to make sense of their experiences, who don't have anyone to talk to, and who blame themselves entirely for their own pain.  Like you explain so eloquently, the trauma of combat changes people in ways that civilians like me can never fully appreciate.  Absent the context that comes from the experience of that trauma, this video (which I admit I can't bring myself to watch in its entirety) of course seems cruel.  But if we are to honestly assess the impact of this incident, along with countless others, we must be honest about the circumstances that conspired to make this incident happen in the first place.  Only then can we fully appreciate what we do to ourselves by engaging in war.

    Thank you kindly for your honesty and for your service.  

  •  I agree, but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    As a liberal veteran , I also watched the video, and when it is in perspective, I am at odds with the negative look of it.
    The audio, for one. The pilots legitimately feel the innocent have weapons, and the camera man did appear to have an RPG. It is easy for anyone to judge after the fact, as you point out. I was never a pilot , but to intervene , they are cover - almost recon if you will. Lets face it, nobody is Recon, except Marines, but I'll save that for another time.
    Horror happens in a war zone, which doesn't justify it.  when you listen to the audio , it sounds as if the pilots are showing general concern for their safety.

    These men will lose sleep over this. for years to come. I do not think it is fair to show all the video with commentary, I think the commentary should come AFTER the video has been shown with audio . The men were wrong, but AT THE TIME, they did not seem to feel that way.
    A bad judgement call haunts me to this day, but when I made the judgement I was trying to come home in working order, and I felt that is what the pilots were doing.
    We need to come home and make Peace Corps the new invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

    you can't remain neutral on a moving train

    by rmfcjr on Wed Apr 07, 2010 at 12:00:04 AM PDT

  •  Those pilots won't ever come to grips (0+ / 0-)

    until we recognize that they, along with a great portion of our armed forces, are mentally ill psychopaths that are in need of serious treatment. And what happens when these guys come back home? A good number of them become part of our police force, itching to taser grandma to death because she dared to speak back and ready to beat down some dark skinned honor student because he was suspected of carrying a weapon. But whatever, according to blackwaterdog, everythings all hunky dory and there are wonderful pictures to prove it. rah rah rah! Did you see Mrs. Obama's new hairdo?

  •  Enough has been said.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    regarding this and since I can't add anything new I would just like to say thank you for your service to this nation.

    Madison WI, A Freeper free zone, all progressives welcome.

    by madtown on Wed Apr 07, 2010 at 06:05:41 AM PDT

  •  Thanks, ranger995 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, madtown

    for your brutally honest and profoundly important point of view on this situation.

    So much damage has been done in so incredibly many ways.  The answer, in my view, is crystal clear -- to end these wars and clean up our own house, and focus on our own people and problems.

    We need to bring our troops home and start the process of healing and accountability for those who worked so hard to bring this country to war for, IMHO, their own benefit and profit, and to the detriment of so very many lives, and families, here and abroad.

  •  outstanding diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995, madtown

    As a vet myself, I agree almost completely.  I seriously wonder if many people outside the military experience have some kind of understanding of what all the stress, violence, and combat really does to you.  I have seen and personally experienced exactly that slow slide into becoming a some kind of monster.  Still terrifies me to this day to know that about myself.  What those service members did is cannot be excused, but damned if some part of me doesn't understand it.  Scares the hell out of me.

  •  Really useful diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranger995

    I managed to miss Vietnam, barely, so I have no direct experience.  But your description is kind of what I guessed it would be like.  I don't think I could predict how I would behave under the real-life terror of war.  

    I think people who ask what the rules should be are being naive.  It's war; not some game.  There is a place for rules, but what happens in the field isn't a game with referees and penalties.  It's life-threatening conflict, filled by design with terror and uncertainty.  

    That's why who-ever-it-was (Marshall?) said "War is Hell".  It isn't just a cute saying.  War is hell on earth.  It kills indiscriminately, it is unfair and uncaring, and it destroys the lives of pretty much everyone involved.  When you decide to go to war, then you are willing to put your sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and buddies into hell.  

    I'm sorry, but there are few battles I think are worth the price.  This isn't one of them.

    Frankly, I blame everything on Nixon.

    by J Orygun on Wed Apr 07, 2010 at 09:54:35 AM PDT

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