A couple of weeks ago, General McChrystal spoke some plain truth, and for some reason, the 101st Chairborne did not freak out and call him a traitor, a troop hater, or a commie Frenchmen:
“That doesn’t mean I’m criticizing the people who are executing. I’m just giving you perspective. We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.”
That is worth keeping in mind while we keep offering up sanitized rhetoric like the following:
A senior American military official said that officials at Central Command saw the video for the first time on Monday, the day it was made public by WikiLeaks in a 38-minute version and a 17-minute edited version.
The official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the record about the matter, said that the 38-minute version “makes clear that the forces involved clearly believed they were engaging armed insurgents, and were not aware that there were unarmed civilians, let alone journalists, in that group of people.”
Oops! We fucked up! We were acting with good intent! That may console those who pulled the trigger, and that may appease the command structure, and it may make sure no one is ever charged with a crime or prosecuted, but it doesn’t matter a hill of beans to the people who actually, you know, live over there:
But among many Iraqis, many of whom consider Americans to be occupiers who have often used excessive force, any explanation paled against deep anger.
“At last the truth has been revealed, and I’m satisfied God revealed the truth,” Noor Eldeen, the photographer’s father, said in Mosul. “If such an incident took place in America, even if an animal were killed like this, what would they do?”
Both families said they watched the video on Monday evening on Al Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network.
“My question is, those highly skilled American pilots with all their high-tech information, could not distinguish between a camera and a missile?” said Nabel Noor-Eldeen, the photographer’s brother who is an archaeology professor at Mosul University.
Excuses don’t matter to people when they see their neighbor and his daughters ripped apart by a chain gun for the crime of trying to help a person bleeding in the street. Excuses don’t console people when they see their son and their father pulverized for the crime of standing next to people who might be considered a threat. Excuses fall on deaf ears for people who watch their kid get shredded by attack helicopters for the crime of milling in the street near people carrying a gun… in a war zone. If the Rules of Engagement state that anyone simply NEAR someone carrying an AK-47 is a legitimate target, then we might as well just start carpet-bombing the entire country until no one is left alive. Especially when you keep this in mind:
Nearly 200,000 U.S.-supplied rifles and pistols meant for Iraqi security forces are unaccounted for in Iraq, according to a report to Congress.
Loose record-keeping caused the Pentagon and the U.S. command in Iraq to lose track of about 110,000 AK-47 rifles and 80,000 pistols provided to the new Iraqi national police and army, the Government Accountability Office told Congress.
Even if you can excuse away the shooting in your own mind (and I simply do not know how you can excuse them lighting up the wounded man and the van- there just is no way to explain that away, particularly with the pilots begging for the wounded cameraman, crawling for his life, to pick up a gun), it does not matter to the people who have to live over there. And ask yourself what Noor-Eldeen asked- if this happened in America, how would we react?
We’re issuing death threats to congressmen and half the nation has been whipped into a frothing mob and wants to secede because… we expanded health insurance coverage after a legitimate legislative process that was the result of open, free, and fair elections. Can you imagine what would happen if foreign helicopters were gunning down our neighbors in the streets?
*** Update ***
This is impressive. The Pentagon “lost” their copy of this video.