Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Coraciidae: Harvard & Stanford Law Prof writes on his FB page abt Wikileaks Leaking US Military Murder in Iraq, Conversation, Quaker Nonharming, Media

Harvard and Stanford Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, a Facebook friend, writes yesterday on one of his FB pages (cartoon image):

"no video has ever depressed me more. thanks, #wikileaks"

WikiLeaks Exposes Video of 2007 'Collateral Murder' In Iraq (VIDEO)

Scroll down for the video Calling it a case of "collateral murder," the WikiLeaks Web site today released harrowing until-now secret video of a U.S. Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 repeatedly ..

(Collateral Murder in Iraq: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/wikileaks-exposes-video-o_n_525569.html)

21 comments follow:

Scott MacLeod (I write, first)
Thanks, Wikileaks, as well.

Horatiu Dumitru
Well, "liking" is not the best option, but there's no other on facebook yet...

Benjamen Walker
and to think there are hours and hours of this sort of stuff out there..

Robin Gross
"... the helicopter crew approached its job as if it were a video game, not something involving human lives. Their desire was simply to kill ..." Frightening.

Fredric Alan Maxwell
Did you think a war with high-tech would be any less brutal and wrong that one without it?

Robb Topolski
Sadly, I'm fairly certain we'll hear more about Tiger Woods on tonight's network news than we will about this. Despite that, I'm glad to see my donation to Wikileaks continue to pay off and encourage others to donate too.

Moushumi Kabir
perhaps it's partly my industry's, tech, contribution to that "video game" mentality? truly upsetting and yes, sadly, Tiger Woods is making more news than this....

Doug Horne
Of course not ... whether the killing is like a video game or the extermination of pests, it's always brutal. To me, the most nauseating part is how entire countries enter into these things as though they're team sports and never even consider the real consequences for human beings. It's horrific, and back home it's viewed like a comic book. These images are shocking to the people who have never had to think about Iraq as anything more than a heroic battle of good versus evil, while the reality is daily brutality at precisely this level. No small wonder that soldiers come home damaged ... and then there will be another "adventure" just like this, someplace else, sooner than we think.

Michael Perry
Yes, please donate to Wikileaks. Fighting the good fight to keep important information available to the public.

Mohamed Nanabhay
An interview with the Wikileaks editor : http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/04/201045123449200569.html

Jeanette Hofmann
I agree. It is the technocratic language of "engaging targets" that I found so horrific.

Felix Dohna
Thanks for sharing this! Even though it is truly depressing I will make sure to spread it in Germany.

Taran Rampersad
hmm. Well. It's sad, but to balance it out the soldiers in the helicopter would be very afraid of an RPG - and if you look at the stance of the cameraman as he comes around the building, he's keeping a very low profile like someone with an RPG would.

Not defending the U.S. Army here - but I'm not willing to attack them, either.

Scott MacLeod (I write again, yesterday)
Glad we have wikileaks, and the media. They are critical and transformative. And this video makes me sad, too. ... Long time Berkeley Prof. Manuel Castells makes the argument that the nature of war has changed dramatically due to Information Technology, starting with body bags on TV during the American War in Vietnam. The American public's dislike ... changed the Pentagon dramatically. His argument is involved, but here are some rough mortality statistics from recent wars: Vietnam: 59,000 Americans and 2-3 million Vietnamese; Persian Gulf: 148 Americans, ?; American War in Iraq: 5000 Americans, 100,000? Iraqis ... The future for war is hard to predict, however more good media is best ...

David Sugar
@Taran the problem is not simply the response of the single moment, but the entire, and institutional response afterward, up to the top.

Taran Rampersad
@David: Perhaps the real institutional problem is training soldiers for war and then sending them to be police - and expecting them to be police contrary to the years of training that they have.

Here's how I see it: The helo crew did what they were supposed to in that they saw a potential threat and eliminated it. As hard as that is for civilians to deal with, it is what war is. But we're not 'at war'. But the people who are there are trained for... war. And given that the threat, had it been real, could have taken out the helicopter - they did what they had to do. The brass, seeing that the crew did what they had to do, tried to minimize exposure because politically it would have been/is a political nightmare.

So the societal response shouldn't be, "Fry the Army." The societal response should be, "Are things that bad over there where our soldiers are willing to shoot at a possible threat instead of evaluate it further?" And if things are that bad there, what the hell are we doing sending people into harms way for? ...

As far as avoidance in the future... well... I don't see how. I'm fairly certain that the Army saw it that way, too.

Should Reuters have been told? Yes. But now that it is in the open, after all the emotions have played out, does anyone have a solution other than, "get our troops out of there." If we train soldiers to evaluate threats better, we may get more dead soldiers. In the time used to evaluate a threat, they might be dead.

I think a video of an RPG shooting at a helicopter through the same POV might really be enlightening for the masses of emotionally charged conversations. With the ending, "This is how our helicopter crew died."

Scott MacLeod (I write again, today):
I appreciate U.S. Quaker anti-militarism responses, especially organizing to provide choices for youth at risk for going into the military through American Friends Service Committee, for example. And while AFSC is nearly a century old with a continuous focus on these issues, AFSC and related organizations need much! more media attention and funding. AFSC and FCNL have been, and are, doing the correct societal response. So besides media exposure of the horrors of war and violence, which continues to lessen the discourses that lead to war, providing monies (private and from the government), education and 'structure' for youth at risk of going into the military is something very worth expanding - dramatically. Through FB with its significant young population, and via the web? Fundraisers are needed for this ... Thanks #wikileaks

Ray Everett
As an addition to the conversation, an ex-military acquaintance noted on his blog: "The Reuters guys are clearly NOT carrying weapons — but we know that in hindsight because the film makers identify them and their cameras. However, at 3:38, right next to the flatbed truck are 4 men, as the image from the helo moves around from left to right the two guys at the top of the picture to the far left each have weapons. The guy on the very far left is carrying an AK-47 in his right hand while the guy next to him — who turns around to look back at about 3:45 is clearly carrying an RPG-7. ... What this film fails to point out {conveniently ignores actually} is that these Reuters guys were covering insurgent activity for their news agency AND that the Apache gunships were flying close cover for a column of Bradley Fighting Vehicles that were making their way into that very area because of. . . wait for it . . . reported insurgent activity! — the very guys the Reuters photographers were with! Frankly, I can’t think of a better way of making yourself a target in a war zone than what these Reuters guys did."

Taran Rampersad
@Ray: Do you have a link to that blog entry? I was making similar observations on the story on Farcebook to people and would love to riff with another similar perspective.

Ray Everett
@Taran: the blog is, um..., well it's basically a collection of gay former military guys who post about military-themed porn, but occasionally devolves into the true filth: political and military policy discussions. ;-) The discussion of the Wikileaks video was not very extensive, but you can find it at billinexile.com... at your own risk... very NSFW and not for the easily offended.


In Facebook, I think, I had read that the Pentagon or FBI might try to 'shut down' wikileaks because they showed this case of "Collateral Murder in Iraq." This possibility of media censorship also seems to loom when organizations with the power to kill wrongly are exposed by media.


uses "trust as a center of gravity by protecting the anonymity and identity of the insiders, leakers or whistleblowers" ... "to expose significant injustice around the world— successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process."

(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/04/coraciidae-harvard-stanfordlaw-prof.html - April 6, 2010)

1 comment:

Taran Rampersad said...

I'm glad you captured this outside of the walled garden of Facebook. Thanks! I was considering doing it myself, but it's already done. Cool. :-)

The issue with Wikileaks in this instance is twofold.

(1) They brought something to light.

(2) They painted it the way they saw it by altering the video in such a manner that it's hard for a viewer not to condemn the actions of the helo crew.

I believe that the media and social media play an important role in democracy. But they only put out a part of the truth here - they didn't put the context. And the context in a situation like that is very important since almost all the people viewing the video have no frame of reference other than Hollywood movies and first person shoot 'em ups. ;-)