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April 9, 2009
The Ninth of AprilBy Greyhawk
Previously: Photographic Memories
April 9th, 2003: The U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division is fighting a battle of rapidly diminishing ferocity in the streets of Baghdad. A few blocks away from where the final shots echo a made-for-TV moment unfolds - United States Marines pull up in front of the hotel where reporters have gathered in hopes of a CNN in '91-style view of the war and topple a statue of Saddam Hussein while a small knot of Baghdad dwellers looks on...
One year later to the day, an event of far greater significance to the war occurred, of which few will ever know anything but the results.
"The Army had the opportunity for this not to come out, not to be on 60 Minutes," he said. "But the Army decided to prosecute those six G.I.'s because they thought me and my family were a bunch of poor, dirt people who could not do anything about it. But unfortunately, that was not the case."In fact, on the very day "the Army" determined via hearing to Court Martial Ivan "Chip" Frederick for his part in the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, his uncle handed the evidence against him to CBS news.
And that evidence was damning. "I got about a dozen photos on Friday, April 9. In Dana's tiny office in New York, we sat grimly and looked at picture after picture," CBS producer Mary Mapes would later recount.
Dan [Rather] came rushing in from across the street and the three of us looked huddled around the desk, flipping through the photographs silently. Jeff Fager and Patti Hassler came to Dana's office to see the pictures and had the same reaction we did. They just stared.They'd been waiting for those photos for weeks - ever since "the Army" had announced the conclusion of their investigation into events at the prison the previous Fall
In his spare time (not that he had any), Roger worked with Col. David Hackworth on his advocacy Web site, Soldiers for the Truth...He was in more than one, of course - though in this one you can't tell if he's smiling or not:
Q. Describe the incident with the detainee with the wires on his hands?
Incident #10. Six Photographs of DETAINEE-15, depict him standing on a box with simulated electrical wires attached to his fingers and a hood over his head. These photographs were taken between 2145 and 2315 on 4 November 2003. DETAINEE-15 described a female making him stand on the box, telling him if he fell off he would be electrocuted, and a "tall black man" as putting the wires on his fingers and penis. From the CID investigation into abuse at Abu Ghraib it was determined SGT J. Davis, SPC Harman, CPL Graner, and SSG Frederick, 372 MP CO, were present during this abuse. DETAINEE-15 was not an MI Hold and it is unlikely MI had knowledge of this abuse (Reference Annex B, Appendix 3, DETAINEE-15; Annex I, Appendix 1, Photographs C1-2, D19-21, M64).
Staff Sergeant Chip Frederick later told Army investigators that he asked the C.I.D. man--whom he identified as Agent Romero--about Gilligan, and that Romero said, "I don't give a fuck what you do to him, just don't kill them."
But Chip wasn't in the photo that appeared on 60 Minutes and became the most enduring image of the Iraq war.
Mary Mapes explains the techniques used to get the photos ready for prime-time T.V.: "We tried pixelating them, fuzzing them, blacking them out, finally settling on a combination of blurring and smearing."
More to follow...
Posted by Greyhawk / April 9, 2009 11:55 PM | Permalink
Welcome to the Dawn Patrol, our daily roundup of information on the War on Terror and other topics - from the MilBlogs and various sources around the world. If you're a blogger, you can join the conversation. If you link to any of these stories, add a ... Read More
November 26, 2010
I think anyone who's ever pondered the "comment" option - once only available on blogs and bulletin boards, now ubiquitous on almost any web site - will appreciate this:
The so-called faculty of writing is not so much a faculty of writing as it is a faculty of thinking. When a man says, "I have an idea but I can't express it"; that man hasn't an idea but merely a vague feeling. If a man has a feeling of that kind, and will sit down for a half an hour and persistently try to put into writing what he feels, the probabilities are at least 90 percent that he will either be able to record it, or else realize that he has no idea at all. In either case, he will do himself a benefit.
That's wisdom from the past, captured for posterity at the US Naval Institute, shared via the web on the institute's 137th anniversary.
From their about page:
"The Naval Institute has three core activities," among them, History and Preservation:
The Naval Institute also has recently introduced Americans at War, a living history of Americans at war in their own words and from their own experiences. These 90-second vignettes convey powerful stories of inspiration, pride, and patriotism.
Take a look at the collection, and you'll see it's not limited to accounts from those who served on ships at sea, members of the other branches are well-represented.
I'm fortunate to have met USNI's Mary Ripley, she's responsible for the institute's oral history program (and she's the daughter of the late John Ripley, whose story is told here). She also deserves much credit for their blog. ("We're not the Navy nor any government agency. Blog and comment freely.") We met at a milblog conference - Mary knew (and I would come to realize) that milbloggers are the 21st-century version of exactly what the US Naval Institute is all about. Once that light bulb came on in my head, I mentioned a vague idea for a project to her - milblogs as the 21st century oral history that they are.
"Put that in writing," she said (of course - see first paragraph above!) - and here's part of the result.
Shortly after the first tent was pitched by the American military in Iraq a wire was connected to a computer therein, and the internet was available to a generation of Americans at war - many of whom had grown up online. From that point on, at any given moment, somewhere in Iraq a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine was at a keyboard sharing the events of his or her day with the folks back home. While most would simply fire off an email, others took advantage of the (then) relatively new online blogging platforms to post their thoughts and experiences for the entire world to see. The milblog was born - and from that moment to this stories detailing everything from the most mundane aspects of camp life to intense combat action (often described within hours of the event) have been available on the web...
And et cetera - but since you're reading this on a milblog, you probably knew that. And you know that milblogs aren't just blogs written by troops at war, that many friends, family members, and supporters likewise documented their story of America at war online in near-real time, as those stories developed.
The diversity in membership of that group is broad, the one thing we all have in common is the impulse to make sense of the seemingly senseless, and communicate the tale - for each of us that impulse was strong enough to overcome whatever barriers prevent the vast majority of people from doing the same. Everyone at some point has some vague idea they believe should be shared - we were the people who, from some combination of internal and external urging, found and spent those many half hours persistently trying to write it down.
But where will all that be in another 137 years? Or five or ten, for that matter. That's something I've asked myself since at least 2004 - when I wrote this:
Membership in the ghost battalion has grown in the years since, and an ever growing majority of those abandoned-but-still-standing sites are vanishing. Have you checked out Lt Smash's site lately? How about Sgt Hook's? If you're a long-time milblog reader you know the first widely-read milblog from Operation Iraq Freedom and the first widely-read milblog from Afghanistan are both gone from the web. If you're a relative newcomer to this world you may never even have heard of them - or the dozens upon dozens of others who carried forth the standard they set down.
If you have a vague notion that something should be done about that, (a notion I've heard expressed more than once...) then you and I and the good folks at the US Naval Institute are in agreement. Preserving the history documented by the milbloggers is just one of the goals of the milblog project, the once-vague idea that we're now making real.
And it's a big idea, if I say so myself - too big to explain in one simple blog post, so stand by for more. Likewise, it's too big a task to be accomplished by just one person. So if you're a milblogger (and exactly what is a milblogger? is a topic for much further discussion on its own) I'm asking for your help. All I'll really need is just a little bit (maybe just one or two of those half hours...) of your time, and your willingness to tell the tale.
We've already made history, it's time to save it.
(More to follow...)
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