Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ethan McCord with Laura Flanders

More GRITtv

Given the recent WikiLeaks doc dump, Laura Flanders' interview with Ethan McCord the other day has a certain poignancy that's impossible to ignore. McCord was the soldier who tried to rescue the wounded children from the van that was shot up by the "Crazyhorse 18" helicopter crew in the WikiLeaks "Collateral Murder" video released last April. His testimony of what went on in Iraq -- and what still goes on there -- is important and timely, as is his testimony about the state and condition of American soldiers deployed and re-deployed to Iraq.

The documents tell part of the story of the horror of the invasion and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, and they imply more horrors in all the other Imperial Campaigns Overseas. As I've said, if you didn't know this was going on, then you weren't really paying attention at all.

McCord brings it home.


  1. Ché, you're smart and experienced, but at this point I don't have solid evidence of Assange's or WikiLeak's collusion by which I can justify the level of doubt that you suggest we adopt.

    And I can't help but be grateful to the man and the organization that the stories I've tried to share have been confirmed in ways that may shock our citizenry to greater responsibility and doubt of the mass media - as that NYTimes comment section seemed to suggest, at least to me.

    But I do very much appreciate the points you've presented at Glenn Greenwald's Unclaimed Territory that could be useful for problem solving. I think you present excellent possibilities for what's to be done with the information we've been given.

    Most surely, I believe these WikiLeaks documents would have prevented many of my fellow soldiers from originally enlisting.

    And yes, after the news of Abu Ghraib broke, during my deployment itself, the photos released at that time made me realize how horribly irresponsible I'd been to shut out the stories my fellow soldiers had tried to tell me about what they'd seen when delivering supplies to the prison. Those images and accounts motivated me to study the Geneva Conventions, and to be prepared to disobey an unlawful order when the moment came.

    And reading news and analyses - yes, online at the New York Times itself, as well as the New Yorker - had prepared me to better explain both the legal grounding for my disobedience and to make a logical case that I was protecting the long-term safety of my fellow soldiers, as well as of the civilians who would have been affected.

    My unit's experience in Iraq and our changed perceptions of our role, significantly shaped by the documents released from Abu Ghraib, were instrumental in over half of my own unit deciding to leave the military or not to re-enlist when we returned.

    Yes, these WikiLeaks documents could be used to help in all these efforts you outline - again, perhaps also to back up testimonies of soldiers and refugees who too often have been dismissed due to doubts of their vested interests, perceptions and/or PTSD. We soldiers may be better able to convince fellow Americans that we did not "serve our country" as much as collaborate in the destruction of our security, economy, and integrity.

    Our common concern as citizens I believe must be to make sure that these documents are shared widely with potential recruits, current soldiers and fellow taxpayers. And we must frame the evidence with ethical and practical contextual analysis - we can all be teachers in that effort.

    Thanks, Che.


  2. Helen,

    Let me add just a note about the documents themselves.

    As you know, they are written in a laconic code that is nearly opaque to most ordinary Americans. They are almost indecipherable if you don't know the code. I can only make out some of it myself. And I thought I was more familiar with it than I actually am.

    And as you know, some of these field reports -- we can't know how many -- report falsely, incompletely, or deceptively. So there are many layers of barriers to a common understanding of what's in these reports. And that's one reason why I am so leery of having the NYT serve as American filter and interpreter of them. The reports themselves are difficult enough to slog through; to add another layer of NYT "interpretation" on top is just self-defeating. But that's where we are with this stuff.

    That's one reason why I really appreciate the first person testimony of you and people like Ethan McCord. It cuts through the codes and the falsehoods and the bullshit.

    And that's ultimately how Americans are going to learn.

    Good luck with your book. Americans need to know.