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What friendly fire looks like.
April 6, 2003 9:18 PM   Subscribe

What friendly fire looks like. BBC reporter John Simpson barely avoids death during a mistaken bombing run which killed at least 10 others in Iraq on Sunday. The BBC has the dramatic video.
posted by skallas (39 comments total)

 
RealVideo sucks.
posted by shadow45 at 9:23 PM on April 6, 2003


It's not bad enough American bombs fall out of the sky and kill Iraqi civilians but they also continue to kill Americans and other folks who are on "our" side. For fucks sake when is this going to stop?!

Liberation.....from your body via Uncle Sam.
posted by photoslob at 9:37 PM on April 6, 2003


When did humans become perfect? Yes, death by friendly fire is insanely horrible, but mistakes happen. With thousands and thousands of missiles dropped and hundreds of thousands (millions?) of automatic rounds fired, it's a miracle more aren't killed by friendly fire. You know, one of the downsides of accurate missle systems is that they rarely miss their target. Luck isn't on the side of the target anymore.
posted by fried at 9:40 PM on April 6, 2003


I guess this is that "unconventional warfare" that Iraq was threatening us with earlier. They're just standing back and letting us blow ourselves up! Those bastards!
posted by SPrintF at 9:44 PM on April 6, 2003


fried, don't take this personally, but I have to post this:

When did humans become perfect? Yes, electing Bush was insanely horrible, but mistakes happen. With millions and millions of Americans voting it's a miracle there was even a fake majority. You know, one of the downsides to the election system is that it is rarely possible to fix it after it's done. Intelligence isn't on the side of America anymore.

/rant
posted by shepd at 9:45 PM on April 6, 2003


I don't know why but the camera man's futile attempt to get his own blood off the lens has is the thing that's made me the most angy about this war.

// RealVideo sucks.
how very insightful
posted by Foaf at 9:49 PM on April 6, 2003


I actually saw this on BBC.....I switched it on and must have missed any warnings about the content...All I saw was blood hit the camera lens and then it went from there.......Really shocking....but that's the reality of war....

I am wondering whether the journalists are put through a debriefing process as well as the soldiers when they are sent back home or away from the war situation....I wonder if Post traumatic stress disorder is covered by workers compensation??
posted by Civa at 9:55 PM on April 6, 2003


shepd, if you're done insulting Americans from your perch in Canada, we'd love to have you pick up where you left off in this thread instead trolling all over a new one.
posted by NortonDC at 9:58 PM on April 6, 2003


I wonder how long until this gets pulled by Uncle Sam.
posted by Espoo2 at 10:01 PM on April 6, 2003


What I've found most amazing about this war is that the number of friendly fire casualties is going to be somewhat close to the number of casualties caused by the enemy.
posted by Windopaene at 10:03 PM on April 6, 2003


Civa: actually, yes, there is help for journalists who experience these types of awful events and suffer the mental consequences. There are several organizations, including the NPPA, that are working to also help specifically photojournalists get the help they need to address PTSD.
posted by photoslob at 10:21 PM on April 6, 2003


It's not just friendly fire. Fighting fire with fire is causing us to get burned on many levels.

I find it interesting that a couple weeks ago all the networks were interrupting regular programming on a regular basis to tell us that the war had started and coalition forces were rushing from Kuwait to Baghdad, but that now that we're actually there, I can't find a single network on regular television covering minute to minute the actual battle of Baghdad itself. Talk about anticlimactic. Wouldn't the actual war be worth reporting, rather than the road to Baghdad? I mean, what's the definition of newsworthy here?

Then there's all this talk about networks being more sensitive about broadcasting anything that's pro-war or anti-war, for fear of alienating one half of their audience for the sake of the other half. A number of music video oriented stations are effectively blackballing videos and artist performances which speak on the war in one way or the other. Freedom of speech as depicted by mass media, advertisers and commercial interests. You're free to speak your mind, but not on a network that depends on millions of advertising dollars every day, with corporations afraid of losing consumers because they are seen to support a program that is for or against the war.

Money talks. Free speech walks. War is hell, and I guess too many Americans were changing the channel, so American networks now seem to be cutting back a lot on their coverage. It's good to see the BBC is still trying to grasp for objectivity, but with embedded reporters seeing it first hand, and taking shrapnel (!), that ideal of objectivity is still taking quite a beating.

Two weeks ago the reporting was trying to make it sound like this was gonna be over pretty soon, but this is just the beginning. The coalition countries are gonna take a beating in the international arena. The U.N. and other international organizations are going to be arguing over the merit of this battle, and whether or not this really is a fight against Muslims instigated by Christians and Israelites. America's government will try to do all it can to lessen the ultimate argument, but this may be the first time in America's history where it's impossible for it to paint itself as the good guys with the white hats. It can be argued that this was a pre-emptive strike to keep things like Nine Eleven and other terrorist actions from happening in the future, but ultimately we're the transgressors.

It's like a bully pushing you around on the playground, knowing that if he can get you to throw the first punch, you'll end up being the one getting three licks at the principal's office for starting the fight, and the bully gets off with a warning. Terrorism is precisely that - the acts of bullies who feel somehow slighted in life in a way they can't quite communicate properly and turning to violence to get their own sense of twisted justice accomplished.

They're turning us into the bad guys, and we are letting them. Terrorism has successfully used our own fears against us. From my perch, looks like to me that terrorism is winning. They're turning the world against the superpower.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:27 PM on April 6, 2003


Still, could be worse, like ending up in Saddam's execution factory. You know, I'm starting to think that maybe Saddam is worse than that obvious Nazi Bush.
posted by Joeforking at 10:33 PM on April 6, 2003


That's something else. With all the "embedded" journalists, though, I suspect this sort of clip won't exactly be rare.

Even with the general consensus being that "embedding" directly serves the propaganda interests of the coalition, I wonder, in the final analysis, if going above and beyond for the media will have been worth it.

Since our enemy is so scattered and unsophisticated, advances and attacks by the coalition often look more like a big kid stomping on an anthill. And missteps like these are certainly amplified. One might wonder, under the media restrictions in 1991, whether we'd know about this incident at all, or about the one in which a U.S. plane strafed a British grouping, and even came 'round for another go, red flares and "I.D. panels" be damned.

RealVideo sucks.

Agreed. It's weird to be pitched with a wet, sultry Jessica Simpson (or whoever that was) in one panel while watching blood get wiped from a camera lens in another.

I guess this is that "unconventional warfare" that Iraq was threatening us with earlier.

I said the same thing to my wife. Sadly, I doubt it's a rare thought. (On preview, also what ZachsMind said.)

What I've found most amazing about this war is that the number of friendly fire casualties is going to be somewhat close to the number of casualties caused by the enemy.

Me too. Early in the "rolling start," in fact, I think we might actually have been ahead in the kill count. In fact, is there anywhere online a good overview of Iraqi aggression that led directly to coalition losses? Beyond the suicide bomber at the checkpoint and the ambush of the lost supply convoy, it seems like hits have been pretty rare, and almost by luck.
posted by pzarquon at 10:39 PM on April 6, 2003


Sure, NortonDC, as soon as it comes back up again.

I'm not much into totally offtopic stuff. That's trolling.

Anyways, I created a better place for discussion on that topic here. I invite you to direct your discussion there, where it is still on topic, and fresh, rather than stale, which is what that thread (and your present troll attempt) is.

BTW: I think if you bothered to search my comment history instead of yours you'd notice I have some serious problems with my home country too. Both the US and Canada need work. In fact, I think you'll find I tend to spend more time commenting on Canada than the US or Iraq.

But please don't let me stop you ranting about offtopic stuff. I wouldn't want to do that. But you'd know that if you'd checked my mefi user page. Which you clearly haven't.

Sorry everyone else for this momentary interruption of your discussion. And, Norton DC, if you have trouble with this, take it where it belongs.
posted by shepd at 10:56 PM on April 6, 2003


Still, could be worse, like ending up in Saddam's execution factory.

This execution factory?
Hundreds of bodies found in an Iraqi warehouse may not be the victims of executions, it was revealed last night.

At first it was believed the rotting bones and skulls, which had bullet holes, were remains of people who had betrayed Saddam Hussein.

But experts now say injuries appear war-related.

And others believe the warehouse, near Zubayr, may be a repatriation facility for soldiers killed in the Iran-Iraq war.
Baaaaaa, baaaaa, baaaaa
Nearly eight in 10 Americans now accept the Bush administration's contention — disputed by some experts — that Hussein has "close ties" to Al Qaeda (even 70% of Democrats agree). And 60% of Americans say they believe Hussein bears at least some responsibility for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — a charge even the administration hasn't levied against him.
posted by Sirius at 11:12 PM on April 6, 2003


If you're still hungry, here is some yummy Sheep Chow from the past:
One of the most sensational stories of supposed Iraqi atrocities was the report that Iraqi troops who marched into Kuwait in August 1990 had taken 312 babies out of incubators at a Kuwait City hospital and left them on the floor to die. This story was a key piece in the campaign to paint Iraq as totally evil--and to portray the U.S. war against Iraq as a mission to "rescue" Kuwait and "restore democracy."

But, as John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton recount in their book Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!: Lies, Damn Lies and the Public Relations Industry (Common Courage Press, 1995), the incubator story was a complete hoax. It was cooked up by a public relations firm hired by the reactionary oil kingdom of Kuwait.
Mmmmmmm, it tastes as good now as it did in 1990. We just love to lap it up, don't we?
posted by Sirius at 11:22 PM on April 6, 2003


"Since our enemy is so scattered and unsophisticated, advances and attacks by the coalition often look more like a big kid stomping on an anthill."

This right here is precisely why we're losing. We are reacting to the poke in the eye, without trying to understand why the bastards took a poke at us in the first place. The enemy appears scattered and unsophisticated by design, and we are underestimating them because we feel ourselves socially and technologically superior.

I cite the movie Die Hard for purpose of metaphor. At one point in the film, the bad guys started shooting at the police, and the stupid captain thought the badguys were shooting wildly and blind. Sargeant Powell looked at the situation and properly surmised the bad guys were going for the lights that were aimed at the building, so the police would be unable to see them. There was a method to the madness. Throughout the film, the bad guys used the perceptions and assumptions of the police against them. They posed as terrorists in order to get to the money in the building. They knew how the police would react and were able to play them like puppets through most of the film.

We look at the unsophisticated Iraq army and we barrel through them like gangbusters, then pat ourselves on the back for being so much the kickass superpower and how no other force on Earth could dare defeat us, but we fail to see that the enemy KNOWS how we'd react and is using our buckaroo attitude to make us look stupid. We're thinking short term. They're thinking long term. They're turning the world against their enemies. It may take generations, but muslims have been fighting wars for millenia. So a few generations means nothing in the grand scheme.

And if he can get us to accidently shoot ourselves in the foot during the fracas? To them, it's so much the better.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:29 PM on April 6, 2003


Pedantry alert:

but muslims have been fighting wars for millenia

Muslims haven't been around for millennia. Perhaps you were thinking of something else.

I agree with you otherwise.
posted by Grangousier at 12:08 AM on April 7, 2003


For the record...the full blood-on-lens video report was shown on ABC Worldnews on Sunday evening. I was surprised that they aired it as the network news tends to be pretty sanitized.
posted by gluechunk at 12:37 AM on April 7, 2003


pzarquon - IIRC John Simpson is not embedded but was riding in the convoy with the US Special Forces. This is the same John Simpson who famously liberated Kabul. A great journalist who a few days ago it had been reported was pretty angry to be kicking his heels in the North whilst all the action was in the South.....
posted by brettski at 1:47 AM on April 7, 2003


John Simpson is my hero.

He wasn't even riding in a covoy with US Special Forces, they happened to be driving past shortly before the incident happened, he had been with the Kurds for several weeks.

"But these things happen if you are fighting a war. Mistakes happen." - John Simpson
posted by daveg at 2:10 AM on April 7, 2003


"But these things happen if you are fighting a war. Mistakes happen." - John Simpson

I have noticed that it's the US and only the US that makes these mistakes with unnerving regularity. Remember the Gulf war?
posted by ralawrence at 3:05 AM on April 7, 2003


Remember the Gulf war?
I try not to.

People can try and justify it as much as they want, but bombing a convoy of personel from your own side, especially one with two (?) white painted vans with TV on them without checking for clearance is insane.

As I was told yesterday American's shoot first and count the bodies later.

[ Actually, we could use that here too... Metafilter: Shoot now, body count later. ]

I saw the footage on TV nearly live. Horendous stuff. Full marks to a camera man sho obviously thinks too much of his job though. It's only a pay packet. Watching this war just makes me depressed, but i really wish those cameras had been rolling just before the attack rather than just after. Our footage is too damned clean - I want every person alive to be forced to watch that clip before their dinner every night for a week... Now eat your char grilled burgers and tell me that everything is going according to plan.

Being serious, I have family in Iraq (as I discovered yesterday) and he told me he was more worried about the Americans than he was about the Iraqis. Says something about both sides, no?
posted by twine42 at 3:15 AM on April 7, 2003


I asked an ex-forces friend of mine why it is that the Americans seem to be disproportionately bad (even taking into account the numbers difference) at the blue on blue thing and he gave me a very sensible sounding response.

British soldiers all have to do regular tours of Northern Ireland, during which they very rarely, if ever, raise their weapons in anger, let alone fire them. Everything they do has to be checked, double and triple checked before it is acted upon, for fear of injuring innocent civilians or any of the very large number of undercover military personnel. As a result they tend to be much more cautious than their allies through experience.
posted by nico at 3:53 AM on April 7, 2003


I wonder if the friendly-fire problem is in some part due to the operational tempo and concomitant lack of rest -- it's harder to do your job properly when you're averaging 4 hours of sleep (or even less!) out of every 24 for days and even weeks.
posted by alumshubby at 4:32 AM on April 7, 2003


When they said the troops were on 4 hour sleep cycles I assumed they meant 8 hours on, 4 hours off...
posted by twine42 at 4:37 AM on April 7, 2003


This right here is precisely why we're losing.

??

Losing what?

Oh, you must be one of Saddam's ministers.
posted by eas98 at 8:50 AM on April 7, 2003


ralawrence, it's not just the US that's losing people to blunders. The Brits did have two of their own helicopters collide together since the war began. That's not friendly fire, but it is just as dead.

shepd--So you didn't jump into this thread with an offtopic post, you didn't make inflamatory and insulting personal comments about the people of an entire nation that you're not a part of, you didn't excuse your own rant with a rant tag and then accuse me of ranting, you're not trolling, an OPEN thread where people's responses to your challenges for hard info contradicting you have been met is too "stale" for you to respond to, and I've never read your user page before now.

Got it.
posted by NortonDC at 8:54 AM on April 7, 2003


The rate of friendly fire casualties is "so high" because the number of casualties is so extraordinarily low.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:07 AM on April 7, 2003


Geez, NortonDC, you just don't give up with the trolling, do you? Well, I ain't gonna do it no matter how many times you ask.

Get a life. Take it to metatalk, or that other forum. Make a smoking FPP today if you feel the need to re-open discussion on that topic on MeFi today. I'll certainly join in. However, it doesn't belong in this thread. And there's no point commenting on stale stories, contrary to just your opinion.

I already told you to grow up once in another thread. I'll tell you twice now. You're only hurting your own credibility here. Why I am being so nice and trying to protect you from yourself, I don't know.

I won't be dragged into an offtopic discussion. It's already bad enough I have to be this offtopic, but I'm not about to start talking about smoking here.

I figured you'd come back for more, for some reason.

In summary, give it a rest. I'm sure everyone else here will appreciate it.
posted by shepd at 9:25 AM on April 7, 2003


Got it. Just like before.
posted by NortonDC at 9:29 AM on April 7, 2003


Good NortonDC. Glad to see we've come to an agreement here.

Hope to see a smoking topic in the future!

HAND + TTYL.
posted by shepd at 9:41 AM on April 7, 2003


Anyway, back to the topic:

That's some pretty powerful and horrendous video which is, of course, why we're talking about it. I doubt, "Hundreds Of Coalition Airstrikes Go Completely According To Plan" would generate much ink.

Thousands of sorties since the start of the war and a very small percentage of tragic mistakes does not a friendly fire problem make. Doesn't mean much to the folks who died, of course.
posted by Cyrano at 10:01 AM on April 7, 2003


What I've found most amazing about this war is that the number of friendly fire casualties is going to be somewhat close to the number of casualties caused by the enemy.

The rate of friendly fire casualties is "so high" because the number of casualties is so extraordinarily low.


Looking at this war and comparing it back to WWII or any past war, wonder how many soldiers have died from friendly fire yet was not originally reported. That has to be one of the heaviest burdens to report on in the military, we pancaked our own men, then to tell their family, we killed him, not the enemy they went to fight.

Zach, well said.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:28 AM on April 7, 2003


"Says something about both sides, no?"

Obviously it says "something", but I don't think it brings any insight. It certainly says something about that particular person, and maybe we can infer a few things form it in terms of his circumstances.

But no, it doesn't say anything about the war as a whole that I can tell that should carry any strong weight.

The US doesn't really have a blue/blue "problem". Military operations are not like other things in the world, high pressure, high stakes, absolutely minimal reaction times and limited information.

It is simply much more risky than other circumstances.

Mistakes happen, stupidity happens, it sucks. However given the number of men, machines and lethal items flying around it is inevitable that this will happen... and we are doing a GREAT job of keeping the numbers down.
posted by soulhuntre at 1:43 PM on April 7, 2003


"But experts now say injuries APPEAR war-related."
And of course you believe that, you apparent idiot.
posted by Joeforking at 3:56 PM on April 7, 2003


Sorry, Sirius, you are right. George Bush is worse than Saddam Hussein, and I was a fool to believe the Iraqis describing torture and death meted out by your mate, Saddam. It was obviously some kind of CIA propaganda.
posted by Joeforking at 4:15 PM on April 7, 2003


Oh my! A rabid sheep!

Look! It has foam coming out of its mouth.

"But experts now say injuries APPEAR war-related."
And of course you believe that, you apparent idiot.

and
Sorry, Sirius, you are right. George Bush is worse than Saddam Hussein, and I was a fool to believe the Iraqis describing torture and death meted out by your mate, Saddam. It was obviously some kind of CIA propaganda.

I didn't say what I believe and I didn't say or imply that "George Bush is worse than Saddam Hussein". You tried to make your point that Saddam is more evil than Bush by using one link to an either unproven or false news item about "Saddam's execution factory", and I appear to be an idiot because I pointed it out?

Look what I just found in the back of my closet! Some Sheep Chow from December 17, 2001. Remember how good it tasted?
Osama bin Laden is going to be brought to justice. It may happen tomorrow, it may happen in a month, it may happen in a year. But he is going to be brought to justice. He's on the run. He thinks he can hide, but he can't. We've been at this operation now for about two and a half months, and we've made incredible progress. And one of the objectives I've said, in this theater, in all theaters for that matter, is that we want al Qaeda killers brought to justice. And we'll bring him to justice.
Haven't had any of that for while, have we? It must be kind of moldy or something. I bet it would make our tummy feel bad if we tried eating it now...
posted by Sirius at 7:25 PM on April 7, 2003


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