The comments that I left on the new PBS blog, Mediashift, led to journalist Mark Glaser contacting the military and asking them about whether the soldier-made videos violate the army code of conduct. In the meantime, I had gone to Youtube.com and watched another video, “The Enemy,” which contained much more gruesome footage of Fallujah.
Military spokesman Maj. Matt McLaughlin responded to Glaser. He stated that they sampled some videos from Youtube.com and, â€œWhat we saw does not appear to violate policy. It does fall in the category of what some would consider bad taste. Bad taste however is a subjective standard.â€?
To me, this response has a veiled message: that the US military doesn’t want to criticize soldiers; these soldiers are spread thin in Iraq and recruiting is down. Although the military’s policy explicitly prohibits soldiers from “photographing or filming detainees or human casualties,” they do not want to get into a fight about this, since fights often call more attention to an issue, and right now they are just trying to lay low and get through the rest of this war without the American public becoming even less supportive and more morally outraged.
This has been a learning process for me, as I went from primarily acting out of my mother-bear-with-cubs mentality, to thinking in terms of what these videos are able to convey to the American public. Here is my response, posted on Mediashift:
Thanks for exploring this question further. In its sample of videos, I wonder if the military looked at one called “The Enemy.” Here is the URL. http://www.youtube.com/?v=4ZIjXp3uT_4 This was reportedly shot in Fallujah. It contains video of a man being shot to death in the street, multiple pictures of men covered in blood, presumably dead, multiple pictures of blindfolded detainees, a close-up of what looks like an older man shot in the head, an aerial video of about 2 dozen people being blown up, pictures of blindfolded detainees with guns raised to their heads, a picture of a body burned to death with the face still recognizable, and two pictures of men with their heads blown off. And there’s more.
I am still worried about how easy it would be for children to access these videos. All I typed in to find this one was “Iraq War.” It was the second listing in my results.
However, I am now starting to appreciate a bigger picture here — the bigger picture of helping the American people understand what is going on in Iraq. Perhaps video footage like this will function as the film “Hearts and Minds” did in the post-Vietnam era — helping to inform people and ultimately change the public’s tolerance for senseless killing.