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April 6, 2010
War Porn (part one)By Greyhawk
2007, Baghdad, Iraq:
On July 12, Kauzlarich ate a Pop-Tart at 4:55 a.m., guzzled a can of Rip It Energy Fuel, belched loudly, and announced to his soldiers, "All right, boys. It's time to get some." On a day when in Washington, D.C., President Bush would be talking about "helping the Iraqis take back their neighborhoods from the extremists," Kauzlarich was about to do exactly that.
I believe it's fair to conclude from the above quote that its author crafted it with little sympathy for the unit commander, the President of the United States, or the larger mission the latter had dispatched the former to conduct. But if unsympathetic, it's still likely fact. Selected fact, to be sure, but David Finkel spent a good part of that year embedded with that unit in their part of Baghdad, and told their story in his book The Good Soldiers.
"Military's Killing of 2 Journalists in Iraq Detailed in New Book," read the Washington Post's (Finkel's paper) headline on its release last September.
A new book by a Washington Post reporter provides a graphic, second-by-second description of the U.S. military's 2007 killing of two Reuters journalists in Baghdad, an incident that the news organization says it cannot investigate fully because the Pentagon has withheld key records of the event.
That event occurred on July 12, 2007 - the day that began as Finkel describes above. And in the book he does provide "a graphic, second-by-second description" of the U.S. military's 2007 killing of Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, Saeed Chmagh, "seven other Iraqi men, two of whom appeared to be holding a rifle and a grenade launcher," and two other men who arrived later.
By now you may have actually seen the video, referred to in the Post report as "a video taken from the gunship that captures the complete sequence of radio communications and imagery that unfolded on the streets below," and (curiously) as a recording that "appears to form the basis for a description of the incident in one chapter of the book." (Emphasis added.)
We must presume, then, that whoever wrote that passage in the book had seen the video. It seems reasonable to presume further that it was Washington Post reporter (and book author) David Finkel. (For some reason the Post account neglects to clarify that point.) In the book Finkel mentions the video but doesn't claim to have seen it - but it's hard to reach another explanation for detailed passages like "One minute and fifty-five seconds before the first burst, the two crew members in one of the circling Apaches had noticed some men on a street..." and "what they were seeing now - one minute and forty seconds before they fired their first burst..." or "one second before the first burst, Noor-Eldeen glanced up at the Apache."
More from The Good Soldiers:
So, what happened to Namir Noor-Eldeen, Saeed Chmagh, and the unidentified men (with and without RPGs and AK47s) accompanying them that day has been known for some time - it was reported when it happened (yawn) and the second-by-second description was last September's (ignored) news. So, people who are concerned about such details of war and its many associated risks and horrors (soldiers, journalists, and those who live in war zones, mostly) or even those with just a passing interest in same were well informed long ago on this particular example.
The release of the video this week, however, has brought the event to the attention of a much larger group of people than the small set of "those interested in issues surrounding war." This new, larger group - larger by orders of magnitude - is snuff porn fans. If you just learned the names of those two Reuters journalists this week by watching that particular video, you might be among them.
Posted by Greyhawk / April 6, 2010 2:20 PM | Permalink
How much would you pay for a magazine no one wants to buy? To clarify, not just one issue or a subscription - but the whole enchilada? The New York Times: Newsweek on Block as Era of the Newsweekly Fades.The Washington Post Company announced Wednesday ... 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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