Glenn Greenwald and Julian Assange set the record straight on frequent misreporting of the discovery of U.S. military atrocities.
Today at Democracy Now!, Glenn Greenwald of Salon and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, made points on analyzing the recently released video showing U.S. soldiers indiscriminately firing on civilians in Iraq.
The first point is that what occurred in the video and what’s been discovered of U.S. special forces staging their massacre of pregnant Afghan women as ‘honor killings’ do not occur at rare incidences.
The actions of the soldiers, the cover-up’s, the obstructionism and the media as a branch of government propaganda are all “standard operating procedure”, according to Mr. Greenwald. These aren’t ‘man, that’s some crazy shit’ circumstances, but, according to Mr. Assange, actually “another day at the office” for soldiers following orders that trickle down, directly or indirectly, from the White House and the Office of Legal Counsel and the Pentagon and the Justice Department and Central Command. There’s no reasonable dispute against this claim. Case and point: the Defense Department’s investigation of the New Baghdad Massacre, having the same videos we all saw, clearing all soldiers of any wrongdoing. [.pdf]
Second, many more than 12 civilians were killed in the New Baghdad Massacre shown the WikiLeaks video. A Hellfire missile struck an apartment complex with three families living in it, according to documents recovered by WikiLeaks.
“My concern with the discussions that have been triggered, though, is that there seems to be the suggestion, in many circles—not, of course, by Julian—that this is some sort of extreme event, or this is some sort of aberration, and that’s the reason why we’re all talking about it and are horrified about it,” Mr. Greenwald said. “In fact, it’s anything but rare. The only thing that’s rare about this is that we happen to know about it and are seeing it take place on video. This is something that takes place on a virtually daily basis in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places where we invade and bomb and occupy. And the reason why there are hundreds of thousands of dead in Iraq and thousands of dead in Afghanistan is because this is what happens constantly when we are engaged in warfare in those countries.
“And you see that, as Julian said, in the fact that every step of the way they got formal approval for what they wanted to do. And if you read the Defense Department investigations, which cleared the individuals involved, in every sense,… And you see that this is standard operating procedure. The military was not at all concerned about what took place. They didn’t even think there were remedial steps needed to prevent a future reoccurrence. They concluded definitively that the members of the military involved did exactly the right thing.
“This is what war is. This is what the United States does in these countries. And that, I think, is the crucial point to note, along with the fact that the military fought tooth and nail to prevent this video from surfacing, precisely because they knew that it would shed light on what their actual behavior is during war, and instead of the propaganda to which we’re typically subjected.”
To which, Mr. Assange added: “We have seen some straw manning in relation to this event. So quite a few people have simply focused on the initial attack on Namir, the Reuters photographer, and Saeed, the other one, this initial crowd scene, and gone, ‘Well, you know, camera, RPG, it can look a bit similar. And there do appear to be two other—two people in that crowd having weapons. A heat-of-the-moment situation. Even if the descriptions were false previously, maybe there’s some excuse for this. I mean, it’s bad, but maybe there’s some excuse.’ This is clearly a straw man. We can see, over these three events—the initial attack on the crowd; the attack on the people rescuing a completely unarmed man, themselves completely unarmed; to the Hellfire missile attack on an apartment complex, which killed families—all in the course of one hour, that something is wrong.
“And the tone of the pilots is another day at the office. This is not, as Glenn said, an extraordinary event. This outlines that this is an everyday event. It’s another day at the office. They get clearance for everything that they do from higher command before they do it.
“There was an investigative report in response to Reuters, so it’s not a minor incident. There was pressure from Reuters to produce an investigative report. There was an investigative report. It cleared everyone of wrongdoing. You can read that report that was released. It is clearly designed to come to a particular conclusion, the suppression of the [Freedom of Information Act] material, non-response to Reuters. And now we hear yesterday from the Pentagon an attempt to keep the same line, that everything was done correctly.”
He continued: “Even the number—everyone was described initially as insurgents, except for the two wounded children. A blanket description. It was only from pressure from the press that changed that number to there being civilians amongst the crowd. But we also see that the total death count is wrong. There were people killed in the buildings next to this event who were just there living in their houses. There were additional bystanders killed in the Hellfire missile attack, and those people weren’t even counted, let alone counted as insurgents. So you cannot believe these statements from the military about number of people who were killed, whether people are insurgents, whether an investigation into rules of engagement was correct. They simply cannot be believed and cannot be trusted.”
The rational reaction to discoveries like the last couple of days shouldn’t be the regurgitation of the reactions of ‘unnamed officials’ who are looking to save their own asses by playing damage control against their institution. The rational reaction is not to treat these incidents independent of all other knowledge. But when the ‘news’ is whatever ‘officials who want to save their asses say it is’, you see the problem that Robert Fisk illuminates so well (1:35):
The rational reaction from an informative media is to tie such atrocities and cover-up’s together when patterns clearly emerge, when cover-up’s are clearly not the exception, but the rule.
As Mr. Greenwald said, “This is what war is. This is what the United States does in these countries.” And it creating very angry orphans and widows like those this world may have never seen before. The U.S. War of Terror is making the world a more dangerous place every day.
Luckily, it’s the largest global arms profiteer in the world. Of course, ‘it’ doesn’t mean you and me, but a handful of cartels. Coincidentally, people from these cartels sit in government seats and invest in media corporations. Lucky for them!
Sucks to be the idiot who believes this government can be a good thing to an acceptable degree.