Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Collateral Murder

Like it or not, the war in Iraq isn't ending anytime soon and we all know collateral damage is a by-product of war.  But when we hear the word war I don’t think it truly resonates with us what war is and what actually occurs out  in the field.  Today I read an article that lead me to a website called Wikileaks.  This is a whistle-blower website where anyone can submit information anonymously.  It’s a new form of journalism whereby there is no censorship.  Often times news agencies  are unable to release certain information, are unable to protect confidential sources, or simply gagged by the government or their board of directors.  There are also situations where companies and governments simply won’t release information.  These whistle-blowers aren’t your average “hey our company rips people off” sorts.  These are inside sources, moles working in the government, or people with firsthand information (and proof).  Wikileaks is non-profit and is dedicated to getting information which wouldn’t otherwise (willingly) be released to the public.

Upon visiting Wikileaks I was presented with a disturbing video of US military troops gunning down innocent bystanders two of which were Rueters news journalists, and even children.  Before watching the video I thought to myself, these guys are journalists in the middle of a war.  These journalists understand the dangers of being smack in the middle of a city presently under war.  So though it is unfortunate they became casualties I don’t think our military truly has time to discern every detail before taking action.  They have split-seconds at times to make a decision to save their life or others.  Most people run away from a war zone, not walk right into it.  But that is exactly what journalists do.  That being said, I was sadly mistaken.  This video actually moved me, angered me, disturbed me, and overall I really felt disgusted at how easy it was for these troops to kill these two reporters.  I got the sense that these guys enjoyed it, I almost felt like they made excuses to get permission to shoot them.  Comments like “he has an RPG” or “he’s armed” when the guy had a fucking camera really bothered me.  I can respect that in the wrong part of Iraq, in the middle of a war you don’t have time to determine whether someone has a gun or a camera, much like a police officer doesn’t always have time to determine if someone’s pulling out a gun, or their wallet in the middle of a heated exchange.  The difference is, these guys were firing on these bystanders from a chopper, no one was shooting at them, they had excellent visual equipment (as you’ll see in this video) and had plenty of time to further investigate whether or not this camera and strap was in fact a gun.  Add the fact that these guys [journalists] were simply walking down the street and you’ll  see why to me it seemed more like this soldier was playing a video game than saving lives.

When we hear about war, we’re desensitized to it.  We don’t visualize the actual bloodshed, we don’t react the same as we do when we hear a friend, co-worker, or family member was killed.  We' are pretty detached and shielded from the visuals.  But watch this video and ask yourself how you would feel if your entire country was being punished for the actions of a small group of individuals (ex. the Taliban).  Ask yourself how you would react to your child being shot, your brother being killed by an invading country’s troops even though you aren’t the problem (ex. Taliban). I’m really interested in hearing your feedback on the video.  Please watch every bit of it.  The end will really disturb you.  If you’re unable to see the YouTube video below, it can be found on the Wikileaks.com website under collateral damage.  The video quality is superb.  Enjoy.