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Friendly fire coverup
November 19, 2008 11:58 PM   Subscribe

New friendly fire coverup: Army shreds files on dead soldiers. "Hours after Salon revealed evidence that two Americans were killed by a U.S. tank, not enemy fire, military officials destroyed papers on the men."
posted by homunculus (46 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know what to say except that this is the first footage I've seen from the Iraq war.
posted by Citizen Premier at 12:22 AM on November 20, 2008


My transcript of the last 2-3 minutes of the videotape from the helmetcam of a Sergeant on the scene:

Soldier 1: "You got it on video tape?"

Soldier 2: "Yeah."

Soldier 1: "He's got it on videotape showin (inaudible) fuckin (inaudible)"

Sergeant: "Yeah, don't even worry about it, ok? Until we hear different, it was a 120 mm mortar. I don't think it was, but for now, that's the way it is, and that's what happened. Got it?"

(long pause, American and Iraqi soldiers can be heard talking excitedly in the background)

Sergeant: "Hey Singleton, are the Iraqi army guys doing anything, as far as security?"

Singleton: "Nope."

Sergeant: "Hey uh, can you get the Iraqi army to help with security?"

Singleton: "(inaudible)"

Soldier 3: "huh?"

Singleton: "The L.T. just went to do it. I think they're kind of scared of Americans right now.

Soldier 4: "Yeah?"

Soldier 5: "Shit. Anybody would."

Sergeant: "Hey, yeah, don't --- stay off that topic. I agree with you, ok. But stay off that topic because it ain't --- won't do no good, ok?

(section appears to have been edited out)

Soldier 6: "Sir, you got your camera still on?"

Sergeant: "What's that?"

Soldier 6: "Your camera still on?"

Sergeant: "Yeah, turn that bitch off."

(Recording ends)


It sounds kind of like the cover up started before the dust settled.

Note, previously to this transcript, the Sergeant spoke on the radio and apparently was told that the blast that hit them was from an enemy mortar, rather than the American tank that had been seen firing at their block.
It's pretty clear from the preceding video that the soldier saying "He's got it on videotape showin (inaudible) fuckin (inaudible)" was referring to seeing the American tank firing on the roof of their building.

posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:56 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Whoops, in case anyone cares, in the preceding transcript, Soldier 3 is the Sergeant too.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 12:58 AM on November 20, 2008


KEEP THE TROOPS OVERSEAS. Jesus christ, we don't need these people on our streets.
posted by Curry at 2:39 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I sat at my keyboard for at least 3 mins thing about Curry and that statement.

I am a US Marine.

I fought bravely, ended my tour in 2005, and have went on to get a degree and become a notable DJ in Philadelphia since that time.

Statements like those of Curry only show how amazingly removed some people are from reality. It is totally absurd and infantile to make such retarded judgments. Disgust. You fail to understand why this war is OVERSEAS (in your words).
posted by Addiction at 3:08 AM on November 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


Wait, so the Army is shredding a dead soldier's old health exam and emergency contact list, and that's a coverup how, exactly?
posted by FuManchu at 3:45 AM on November 20, 2008


It sounds kind of like the cover up started before the dust settled.

Yeah, it's pretty obvious where it occurs in the video. He's giving battle roster numbers base and says something to the effect of, "I want it understood that it was a tank... that it was one of our tanks". You can barely hear someone's talking back to him on the comm like they're giving instructions. In local background, you can hear another soldier is clearly angry at the situation and others are trying to shut him up. The Sgt. (still on the phone) yells back to the soldier, "It was a 120mm mortar, you got it? 120mm mortar."

Directly following this you can hear him confirm with another soldier that it was, in fact, the American tank, and that he was an eyewitness himself.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:52 AM on November 20, 2008


Addiction....maybe you're a little too close to the situation to appreciate the snark. It's just snark. Welcome to Metafilter.
posted by spicynuts at 3:55 AM on November 20, 2008


Just clicked to video..ahhhhh irony...I had to watch an ad about hybrid vehicles that started with the words 'today let's celebrate the good things'. Delicioius. Here's a video of our boys over in the dessert fighting for our oil, but first A MESSAGE FROM AN AUTO MAKER!!
posted by spicynuts at 3:59 AM on November 20, 2008


Congratulations on your re-integration into society, Addiction. As spicynuts comments above, perhaps you are taking a personal insult from Curry's statement? Take a step back and a deep breath.
Let's assume that Curry was serious, for the sake of argument. Who would disagree that people who fire on and kill members of their own forces might suffer some emotional trauma? Would superiors want to acknowledge or support treatment of this following a cover-up? How would that effect their ability to function in society once they have returned?
Those performing the cover-up would have similar issues and then some.
What of those who witnessed the event? The repercussions cannot be quantified. Like so much that happens in conflict, the inhumanity of the situation is overwhelming. If not dealt with effectively the residual emotional trauma can be very damaging to both the subject and the society in which they live.

I would hope that you had not had to suffer anything like this.
posted by asok at 4:20 AM on November 20, 2008


Also, I'm a bit disappointed in Salon's reporting here. They seem to have only spoken with the soldiers who believe they took friendly fire -- which, yes, given their viewpoint from the video seems obvious. But you could hear mortar explosions continuing in the video after the tank fired. And there were mortar fragments in or on the building. Why didn't they speak to any of the soldiers who had a view of the incoming mortars? The official report makes it clear that there was a lot going on at the time. Salon's reporting seems based entirely on the video.

I'm not saying the official report allays all fears. But Salon doesn't address anything outside of the conspiracy theory. And the military expert they quote who says they obviously weren't taking fire because they didn't engage seems to willfully ignore that they had been engaging on and off, and that there were other friendly units in the area enging enemy as well.
posted by FuManchu at 4:22 AM on November 20, 2008


You fail to understand why this war

One of the governing documents for the US of A says:
ARTICLE 1, SECTION 8
The Congress shall have Power:
To declare War,

Say - where is the formal drawn up declaration of war for the value of 'this war'?
posted by rough ashlar at 4:41 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I think it's wrong to refer to this as a "conspiracy theory".

Infact, the alternate to the tank theory is the one that defies reason.

Why? Take a look at the official story for their death. The mortar theory actually states that these soldiers died from two enemy mortars, hitting nearly simultaneously, even though tank shell fragments were found on the scene!

It also completely disregards the eyewitness accounts of numerous soldiers, and the video itself, which indicates one blast.

Really, it's like they threw Occam's razor right out the window.

And why is this case so important? Not only because of Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez-Gonzales and their friends and families. Not only because of importance of the military being truthful about such things. It's important because when the military *ISN"T* truthful, it costs American lives!

Whose lives? How about Pvt. Matthew Zeimer, 18, of Glendive, Montana, and Spc. Alan E. McPeek, 20, of Tucson, Arizona, who were killed by friendly fire from a U.S. tank on Feb. 2, 2007, just one month after the death of Pfc. Nelson and Pfc. Suarez-Gonzales! Most damning is that this incident *ALSO* happened in Ramadi, and the same units were involved!

Zeimer and McPeek's deaths were not inevitable, and could have been avoided if it weren't for the failure to report Nelson's and Suarez-Gonzales' deaths as ones caused by fratricide. The report into Zeimer and McPeek's deaths cited numerous "deficiencies in training, manning, mission preparation, target validation procedures, and tactical level friendly force marking"... deficiencies that we *KNOW* existed in Ramadi at the time of Nelson's and Suarez-Gonzales' deaths.

Perhaps this helps to explain why they are particularly keen to avoid all the facts being released on this matter?
posted by markkraft at 4:52 AM on November 20, 2008


rough ashlar, I'm sure GW just forgot to file it properly. Perhaps it's in another drawer. I mean, it has to exist right? Oh wait...damnit, google, you've made a fool of me again.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 5:02 AM on November 20, 2008


the Pat Tillman criminal coverup was a million times worse than this. a million times, and nothing happened.
posted by matteo at 5:06 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


i've been against this war from the beginning, and i think it is a tragedy to send our young men into harm's way for no reason, or worse, for a pack of lies. but that's all been said, and fortunately, it looks like things will be changing for the better very soon.

however, curry's words are offensive and ignorant. curry, you are living proof that bigotry and intolerance come in all shapes and sizes, and from all sides. those guys are staring death in the face every day, and care deeply about their fellow soldiers -- sometimes to a fault. you wouldn't know. thank god for them you're OVER HERE.
posted by Shike at 5:15 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


It continues to amaze me how people continue to instruct others to shred documents. Jesus F***ing Christ, they put people in jail for this! It is far easier to prove obstruction of justice than the underlying crime. If you are going to commit this crime, don't make witnesses by instructing others to do your dirty work, just shred the documents yourself. Then the only judge you will have to face is your own conscience and your God, both of which can mete out quite a hefty penalty by the way. Asking your inferiors to shred documents for you is about as stupid as asking them to kill someone for you, and probably more stupid as they are more likely to rat you out on shredding as it does not take the same toll on their conscience.

The military has a serious problem with covering up its own mistakes (see "Pat Tillman" etc.). This is a change that needs to come from the top down. They need to make it more dangerous to lie and cover up than to admit mistakes. Right now there is clear perceived benefit in covering up or it would not be so prevalent. And I am not talking just putting people in jail for obstruction of justice, which should happen, but punishing more severely those who cover up all the lesser stuff and probably being able to accept mistakes more honestly. Honor is important to a soldier and it needs to be stressed that this crap is a serious violation of honor, when now it is seen as protecting the honor of the system or a few individuals who made mistakes. I am sorry, but you can not protect honor by violating honor. That dishonors you and the institution you are vainly attempting to protect.
posted by caddis at 5:19 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


The mortar theory actually states that these soldiers died from two enemy mortars, hitting nearly simultaneously, even though tank shell fragments were found on the scene!

the video itself, which indicates one blast.

Mortar fragments were also found on the scene, explain that. Evidence of multiple explosions were found at the scene, explain that. The injuries sustained suggest mortars, explain that. The official report says "...video recorded more mortar impacts, but none that indicated a second direct hit. Two rounds, landing one behind the other, best describe the injuries inflicted and the damaged [sic] observed during post blast analysis." ... Page 6 also goes on to explain in 10 scientific points why the tank shell fragments found in the stairwell was unlikely to have been from a direct hit.

There is no clear answer here, unfortunately. The army clearly deliberated long and hard about the causes. They are clearly not against ruling incidents as friendly fire, as your own link indicates.

I don't see how there's any coverup. The report clerly indicates they considered friendly fire. It is availble for you to read. You may disagree with it (I wouldn't begrudge anyone for thinking it's FF), but you would also have a lot of evidence and reasoning to fight through.

This is no coverup.
posted by FuManchu at 5:28 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Here's the brief report on the Army's official investigation. (Apparently, there's a longer one out there that hasn't been released as yet.)

It specifically states "At approximately 16:20:16 two enemy mortar rounds struck the roof", each one of them individually hitting and causing the fatal wounds to each of the soldiers. To make this unlikely scenario even more unlikely, one of the mortars was a 120mm round and one was from an 82mm.

Obviously if you believe the official report, Iraqi mortar crews are deadly accurate and love firing at the exact same time... and that this concrete building U.S. troops were stationed in was so weak that the weakest 82mm mortar shell seriously "weakened the east wall above the stairwell" and the other round "destroyed the parapet" where Suarez was taking cover.

If you believe the official report, just a couple mortar hits from the Iraqis and that concrete building they were in was already taking some pretty serious damage, without the need for any kind of high velocity ordinance -- like a tank shell -- designed specifically to penetrate just about anything. Makes you wonder why the roof hadn't collapsed over the course of a month-plus worth of fighting in Ramadi, and why they didn't pull their troops out, when clearly the Iraqis had them perfectly ranged and targeted and could attack them with impunity and pinpoint precision...

Alternately, you can suggest that the mortar fragments cited in the investigation were on top of this building already after months of extended fighting, and like many Iraqi concrete buildings used by U.S. troops for shelter, it had already shrugged off weak fragmentation mortar hits in the past... and that the truely noteworthy thing was that there were tank shell fragments on that roof as well. A tank shell, fired at high velocity, capable of damaging the east wall above the building's stairwell in a hail of debris, continuing on, and absolutely destroying the defensive parapet on the building, killing a second soldier.

In that kind of environment, it's entirely reasonable to expect Iraqi mortar fragments to be on top of the building. But can anyone who supports the military's story on this explain to me how U.S. tank shell fragments got on top of the building?
posted by markkraft at 5:34 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


how U.S. tank shell fragments got on top of the building?

I'm not actually sure where they were found now. The official conclusion states that it was at the "base of the stairwell," and that they somehow know it is "downrange debris."
posted by FuManchu at 6:06 AM on November 20, 2008


"Mortar fragments were also found on the scene, explain that."

It's very common for the U.S. troops to base themselves in hardened concrete buildings, and for them to be routinely mortared, shrugging off such hits, which are not high velocity and are primarily anti-personnel in nature. This would also explain multiple explosions in the past. Clearly it had been fired on previously... there were also remains of a 57mm rocket as well, which is reported all over the internet as being standard ordinance for the Iraqi resistance. Clearly, Iraqis had fired on that building before.

"The official report says "...video recorded more mortar impacts, but none that indicated a second direct hit."

It's their report that says that two mortar shells simultaneously hit the building... not mine. I don't see the point you are trying to make here.

"Two rounds, landing one behind the other, best describe the injuries inflicted"

Actually, if you read the report, they have to kind of use a theoretical to explain how none of the soldiers near Suarez got hit by mortar fragments.

Also, note that they say that there are "two impact marks characteristic with low angle 82mm mortar impact" and they pick one of these as being most likely the impact that caused Nelson's wounds. Of course, this only goes to support my claim that this building had repeatedly been hit by mortars, which were shrugged off and did no significant damage.

To me, it seems like the military is cherry picking amongst the already sustained blasts by enemy mortar and rocket fire to choose the ones most likely to have caused the deaths... and that they went out of their way to disregard the fact that none of the soldiers near Suarez or anything around him really received fragmentation damage, as you would expect from a mortar attack.

"Page 6 also goes on to explain in 10 scientific points why the tank shell fragments found in the stairwell was unlikely to have been from a direct hit."

Because clearly, when there's a cover-up, information is not skewed to fit a pre-established outcome.

Perhaps you miss the point that a tank shell casing fragment being found right near where one of the mortars was supposed to have hit is an awful big coincidence?

You tell me... which of the following would be most likely to damage a wall near the stairwell? A high velocity 120 mm tank shell fired directly at a target or a fragmentation mortar, which is lobbed on top of the target?

"There is no clear answer here, unfortunately."

The video indicated a VERY clear answer, even before the matter was investigated. Clearly, the story was that it was an enemy mortar attack. And when one mortar attack wouldn't explain it, two were created, by cherry picking amongst the previous hits on the structure!

"They are clearly not against ruling incidents as friendly fire"

...which is why there have clearly been no cases of the U.S. being wrong about their initial claims that friendly fire was not the cause of particular incidences in Iraq and Afghanistan... right?!

I think I can say that clearly, there have been repeated, well documented cases of the military initially stating -- and even making extensive reports supporting -- that they weren't the ones who killed their own troops, killed civilians, etc... only to be proven wrong later. Why would they put themselves out there like that, rather than letting unbiased investigations proceed before they make phony claims?
posted by markkraft at 6:20 AM on November 20, 2008


The video indicated a VERY clear answer

The video didn't show anything besides the single explosion, and the Sgt saying he thought the tank fired on them.

I never said I believed the official conclusion, just that it's not clear cut and that Salon did a shitty job of investigating it.
posted by FuManchu at 6:28 AM on November 20, 2008


You fail to understand why this war is OVERSEAS (in your words).

This war, like all but two that America has fought, is overseas because like nearly every war we've been involved in, we chose to go to their house and fuck their shit up.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:49 AM on November 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


Shredding the soldiers themselves wasn't enough?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 6:56 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Delicioius. Here's a video of our boys over in the dessert fighting for our oil, but first A MESSAGE FROM AN AUTO MAKER!!

"My people are the people of the dessert," said T.E Lawrence, raising his fork.
posted by notyou at 7:07 AM on November 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


"The video didn't show anything besides the single explosion, and the Sgt saying he thought the tank fired on them."

The video also indicated that the story they heard back from the powers-that-be was that it was a mortar attack, and that they were supposed to drop that tank stuff.

Nevermind the fact that the report cited zero eyewitnesses indicating mortar fire against the building in question.

That said, you're right, in that there was no shortage of people saying the tank fired on them.

It's not that the official report isn't possible. It's that it completely defies credulity. Why stop at two simultaneous, seperate mortar attacks at once? How about another 82mm mortar strike and a 57mm rocket as well to explain all the enemy ordinance hits -- that we know of-- that the building sustained, all hitting with one big boom?

Maybe we can throw in a couple lightning strikes as well?!

I don't think it's the act of a "conspiracy theorist" to believe the multiple firsthand accounts of the soldiers on this one.
posted by markkraft at 7:21 AM on November 20, 2008


It's not, but at the same time the perceptions of the individuals in the middle of a battle isn't necessarily entirely accurate as to what happened.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 AM on November 20, 2008


I don't think it's the act of a "conspiracy theorist" to believe the multiple firsthand accounts of the soldiers on this one.

Actually, that probably was a bit harsh of me. I just fail to see what relevance the shredded documents had to the investigation.

I'd also like to point out the coincidence of the tank firing just as a mortar strike started. The soldiers who started clamoring for the order to cease fire were reacting to the subsequent enemy mortar fire. They confused the subsequent mortar fire with repeated fire from the tank. This is also likely the reason command was so quick and adamant that it was a mortar strike -- there actually WAS a subsequent mortar strike. HQ gets calls in about incoming mortar, and simultaneous calls in from the 2/D/1-9 about friendly fire... and an officer comes back with "that was mortar."

The one thing that should settle it is the tank itself, and the orders the tanks were under. This is curiously not made clear the in the official report. I was under the impression that they've got to account for most of the shots they take. (I also thought that their targeting systems now record everything, but I guess not.) Getting something from those few guys would have been real reporting.
posted by FuManchu at 8:01 AM on November 20, 2008


It's really hard to say with any certainty what happened here.
posted by MarshallPoe at 8:15 AM on November 20, 2008


Oh... actually it looks like they were able to view the individual tank shots. In the official report, p3, para4, they discuss:
... At approximately 16:20:12 SFC XXX's video camera recorded the report of two tank rounds fired near simultaneously: XXX second of two XXX rounds and XXX canister round. Both rounds struck the target building. XXX round entered a window and detonated inside the target house. XXX canister round struck the west wall above the door. The canister round knocked down the door and ricocheted toward building #2 [and the 2/D/1-9]. At approximately 16:20:15 (3 seconds later) the canister shot cup and a large number of shot pellets struck building #2. At approximately 16:20:16 two enemy mortar rounds struck the roof of building #2 [this is what we see in the video].
I am assuming from the detailed review of the tanks shots that they DID review each individual shot, perhaps with video. The main issue now becomes: all of the shots seem to be accounted for, so where was the tank on the grassy knoll?
posted by FuManchu at 8:24 AM on November 20, 2008


"me. I just fail to see what relevance the shredded documents had to the investigation."

The shredded documents may have a bearing to the investigation, if some of them were relevant... which is something we don't know.

I'm just a bit surprized by the coincidences of the matter. The internal records specific to both those soldiers -- and apparently others with the same last name -- are due a good shredding at the same base which is at the heart of the report, right after it's been reported that their deaths might have been fratricide? Why would the C.O. think it so important to have his people shred those docs right away?

As far as the enemy mortar strike is concerned, you's assuming that the tank in question didn't keep firing, and have to be called off. There very well may not have been an enemy mortar strike against that building today, but rather, just general enemy mortar activity in the city... which, given Ramadi at that point in the war, isn't unexpected. Certainly the tape doesn't solidly indicate there were repeated mortar strikes against them.

Even if there was, however, I wouldn't find it as coincidental as two seperate Iraqi mortar strikes hitting the same building at precisely the same time, so as to cause only one audible explosion, with both mortar strikes hitting and causing fatalities. That, to me, is damn lucky shooting.

And you're right that the tank's orders should settle it, but they simply did not have any of that kind of info in the report, despite the fact that they have to be very accountable for their use of ordinance.

You put all the blame Salon's reporters to not have this information in their story, but you know that it's not something they would necessarily get, even with a records request, right? They're already reporting that their requests for information are being stonewalled... but this kind of information from the tank crew is *exactly* what should be in the military's report, but clearly wasn't. Instead, we hear a month later after more US troops died that there were "deficiencies in training, manning, mission preparation, target validation procedures, and tactical level friendly force marking".

You'd think they'd ask the tank crew, at minimum, whether they were certain that they actually shooting at the bad guys instead, don't you? Did they ask them? If so, did the information the tank crew provided indicate weak "target validation procedures", to the point where they couldn't conclusively state what they shot at? And if so, why wasn't this kind of inconclusive information in the military's report?
posted by markkraft at 8:37 AM on November 20, 2008


Sounds to me like the military is claiming they have proof that this wasn't fratricide. You'd think they'd want to release it and all the other requested information, wouldn't you?

Alternately, of course, it could be a coverup.
posted by markkraft at 8:46 AM on November 20, 2008


I watched the 52 minute video, and I thought they were in building 2. I could be wrong though. It's only important because of the "shot cup" and "a large number of shot pellets" struck building #2. The Sergeant requests a medevac, stating that the soldier needs priority surgical attention. My understanding is that Suarez and Nelson were covering security on the roof. I can't imagine 2 mortar shells hitting the same roof, and them actually having someone leftover to medevac afterwards.

At approximately 16:20:15 (3 seconds later) the canister shot cup and a large number of shot pellets struck building #2. At approximately 16:20:16 two enemy mortar rounds struck the roof of building #2 [this is what we see in the video].
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:56 AM on November 20, 2008


It just makes me kind of sick to imagine this situation. I've never been in the military. But I figure combat is probably pretty fucking difficult to deal with psychologically. Then imagine that your own people, Americans, have accidentally fired on you and killed one of your friends. Then imagine that before your ears stop ringing, the Army is already trying to insist that it wasn't friendly fire.

I think I would be thinking, "I don't need this shit from the Army - I was almost killed by my fellow troops, and the Army's No 1 priority is covering its own ass". I mean, if you can volunteer to take bullets for your country, you'd think the Army could volunteer to take a PR problem for you, instead of covering up the truth to the direct detriment of the future safety of American soldiers. Their first priority should have been to figure out who fucked up and how to avoid this next time.

If indeed that is what happened, I am disgusted.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I have a question for anyone who is familiar with military protocol - why couldn't the soldiers contact the tank via radio? I imagined (mostly based on Hollywood depictions) that they would all have radios and would be able to raise the tank and tell them to stop firing. Is this an unusual break in communication channels? Or is this typical of battlefield communication?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 9:19 AM on November 20, 2008


Different chains of command. I'm not sure about the exact leadership scenario here, but usually the Sergeant would radio the LT, who would radio higher, who would then have to radio the Armored Cav Higher, who would then radio it back on down the line. Kind of like a rainbow, except people die.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 12:58 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


“I mean, if you can volunteer to take bullets for your country, you'd think the Army could volunteer to take a PR problem for you, instead of covering up the truth to the direct detriment of the future safety of American soldiers.”

Happens all the time. Happened to many other military forces in the past. Happened in the recent past in the U.S. Happens everywhere. Happened to me, in fact.
Doesn’t justify it. Not at all.
In this specific case, I can’t say for sure.
I’m not willing to cut them much slack though.

“Statements like those of Curry only show how amazingly removed some people are from reality.”

Acrimony aside (whether it’s appropriate or not or whether I agree or not - just putting all that aside) - this is the critical bit here.

“It's just snark. Welcome to Metafilter.”

Except you and Curry are, in fact, divorced from reality. I strongly suspect you have no idea what it’s like to sacrifice - anything really, for something, nor do I suspect you have any family members or anyone you know serving.
Maybe I’m wrong. Even so, not the main point.

The main point is he didn’t say these particular people who are responsible for covering stuff up. Hell, I hate bastards like that myself. Been screwed blued and tatooed by them. I know people who ceased to exist on paper after they were killed. You want to talk angry? You don’t have 1/10th the rage I have for pieces of shit like this.
But again, it wasn’t those specific individuals.
It was “The Troops”

People go on and on and on about how bad this war is and how evil this or that is. Clue: most people? Don’t really care. In fact a lot of you are happy sitting there snarking because you never served, never had a family member serve, don’t have a friend or family over there now.

So the troops, to people like you, aren’t “uncle Fred” or “my brother” but “those people” that “we” don’t need on OUR streets.
Like they’re not from here. Like they spawned from bacteria.

You probably don’t even understand what Addiction is upset about.

Let me put it this way. I’m a vet. Do I belong on YOUR streets? Gee, is it ok if I own a home in YOUR neighborhood?
Want me to kill myself like Lupus Yonderboy said we should so I’m out of YOUR way?

If that’s not what you’re saying, maybe you should fucking think about what it is you ARE saying then.

Because Addiction is right. You’re not connected to reality - be design.
The wars going on now are being fought by a very very small group of people. A very small community. Why? Exactly so you don’t kick.

Ok, so maybe you protested the war. Thank you. What would you be doing if it were your brother in a body bag for this bullshit in Iraq?

And speaking on this “overseas” business - the U.S. Navy just took out some pirates who hijacked an oil tanker. You like gas do you? Enjoy, like, food at your supermarket? Ride the train? Yeah, we have to get off oil, but let’s just agree it’s -currently- a necessary commodity. So who’s going to protect those sea lanes?
You?
What, you’re gonna take up a collection at your local PTA meeting, charter a boat and head out with a pistol to stop piracy?

I don’t particularly agree with a lot of the high profile engagements were in right now.

But there are a million little scrapes going on that you don’t hear about protecting your interests and ultimately your asses from serious people who quite definitely want to do you harm.
Not just terrorism, but criminal organizations who have a tremendous amount of money and personnel, on top of that they do humanitarian missions such as delivering aid during natural disasters or in the face of tyrrany, occasionally they fight warlords in the process, try to stop genocides - pretty much do whatever it is we ask of them to do that can’t be done without going into harms way.

I don’t see why when a New York Times report is seen, very visibly and demonstrably, fabricating a story and someone says the New York Times is a conspiratorial outfit who’s reporters are committed to disinformation - that’s laughable.

But a group of soldiers does something and someone says it’s the entire military down to a buck private that are all devoted to warmongering and violence - basically ok.

Castigating an entire group on ethnic lines - wrong. Castigating an entire group of workers (unions, say) - wrong. But when it comes to troops - all bets are off.
What’s unacceptable behavior in broadly stereotyping any other group seems to be just fine when it comes to military servicemember.

Don’t like the war? Great. Hey, I’d’ve liked to sit home and get paid for doing nothing but training myself.
But don’t tell me it’s not my country anymore because I went off when you told me to.
(And this *I* didn’t tell you to stuff is bullshit. You support the system in the U.S.? You like voting? You pay taxes? You’re part of the system. And part of representative democracy is not everything goes your way. As I said, I’d’ve liked to stay home myself. I’d have less scar tissue.)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:17 PM on November 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


But don’t tell me it’s not my country anymore because I went off when you told me to.
As I said, I’d’ve liked to stay home myself. I’d have less scar tissue


Trying my hardest not to offend but we didn't tell you to go, you told that to yourself.
posted by BrnP84 at 2:27 PM on November 20, 2008


Trying my hardest not to offend but we didn't tell you to go, you told that to yourself.

I was under the assumption you were an Iraq vet, after checking your profile I don't think you are. Anyway, this topic is really sketchy, we've got vets in on this conversation now and I have no doubt that this post would have over 100 comments right now if it were just "civilians" in here. No one wants to offend a vet, that's a straight up shitty thing to do but at the same time I'm not one to blindly "support the troops." You troops know what they were signing up for, hell after 9/11 I was close to signing up myself. It wasn't fear or lack of bravery that kept me from signing, it doesn't take that much bravery to join the world's most powerful army, it was something in the back of my mind saying that this shit just ain't right. Yea curry's words were out of line but I don't like being accused by "vets" that we have a distorted view of reality just b/c we weren't the one's getting shot at. I feel comfortable saying this knowing a few vets who have come back from Iraq swearing to never return.
posted by BrnP84 at 2:39 PM on November 20, 2008


“we didn't tell you to go, you told that to yourself.”

That’s not offensive. Merely ignorant. And I don’t mean that in the pejorative. One signs up for military service (in the U.S) and swears to uphold the constitution and obey the lawful orders of one’s superiors (ultimately, the American people).
One does not sign up to enter any given war. And, in fact, most military personnel do not fight.
Now - either you (as a citizen) support the U.S. constitution or you don’t. You can’t support the system of government when it works for you, but bail when it doesn’t like it’s not your responsibility.
This is quite separate from protesting a given administrations’ policies, criticism, etc. In fact, far from being counterproductive, I consider those things a duty (one I’ll note the democrats more or less abdicated) in the U.S.
Someone who signs up for military service signs up for - anything - the country wants them to do (within the laws of war and the constitution). This is not to say there are no criminal acts by service members, but it’s not part of the oath to, say, torture someone. And indeed, I’d strongly argue runs contrary to it - which would add another layer on the criminal charges.

So, by analogy - this “you asked for it” argument is akin to getting married. You pledge yourself in sickness, health, until death. So one day your wife comes running in to your bedroom and says “there’s a man who broke in the front door and he’s trying to kill me!”
So you run out of the bedroom and there’s this guy there looking wild eyed and you struggle and in the course of the struggle you get even more enraged and you kill him. So you call the police and in the course of investigation it turns out that your wife in fact lured the guy into the house and suckered you into killing him.
At this point the cops say it’s your fault because you married her.

Now it’s not a great analogy, but take my meaning there. With a new president, a new set of policies, essentially, the U.S. becomes a new country. And either each successive generation is responsible for the previous one, or it isn’t.
(If it is - why aren’t you giving all your posessions back to the Indians?)

You want to argue this particular war is wrong - ok. But don’t tell me it’s the fault of the guys who fight it because they would be fighting if China invaded us, if the Soviets had invaded us, if terrorists tried to blow something up - they fight regardless of policy.

Want to argue we should have a different form of military? I’m with you there too.

But to argue war wouldn’t happen if some mudfoot didn’t sign up to fight is as naive as saying we should stop using all petroleum at 11 pm today.
Is it something to work for? Sure.


“but I don't like being accused by "vets" that we have a distorted view of reality just b/c we weren't the one's getting shot at. I feel comfortable saying this knowing a few vets who have come back from Iraq swearing to never return.”

BrnP84 - I am a vet of a number of conflicts, you, and the American people, have a distorted view of reality because you’re completely divorced from the war experience and have no connection to the humanity of the people who’ve been through it.
As I’ve said - this is by design. I don’t think this administration would have been able to prosecute the war had more people been involved in it and had more people been asked to sacrifice. As it is, this administration has gotten away with one of the greatest thefts in history. We’re feeling those effects now.

But as it is people are - as they nearly always have in history - looking for a scapegoat. And many people are pointing to the troops. As though war wouldn’t happen if they didn’t sign up. As though they so badly wanted to lose an eye or a leg or come back unable to sleep at night. Mmm. Oh yeah, more of that please.

Had I stayed in I’d probably be at a fairly significant rank by now. I didn’t want any part of it though.

But you’re damn right I knew what I was signing up for - and if I thought for a moment I could do some good by placing myself in harms way again - much as I fucking hated it - I’d do it. I’d die for this country.

Problem is some politicians take that willingness to sacrifice and distort it (gasp! a politician? lie?) for their own means. The hell of it is - once you’re in a position to confirm the reality - you’re powerless to do anything about it because you’ve already taken the oath.

Even so - would I serve under Obama? Would I serve if he said “Hey, let’s go stop the genocide in Darfur!” - I don’t know. I’d be damned temped.
But some of you act like it’s all bullshit all the time. It’s not. I personally have saved a lot of lives. I know a lot of people who have done a lot of good things. And you can still salvage something worthwhile out of a horrible situation.

Far as I’m concerned “supporting the troops” means not only bringing them home, but not sending them off into unnecessary wars. Holding people responsible for what they have no power over. That is what offends me.

Criticising the war, arguing whether we should have gone or not - no, doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Hell, we might have stayed out of it if folks on the homefront were more effective.
I’m not saying a lot of people didn’t try. But we didn’t pull it off, did we?
Still, we elected Obama. Good first step.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:02 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Merely ignorant. And I don’t mean that in the pejorative. One signs up for military service (in the U.S) and swears to uphold the constitution and obey the lawful orders of one’s superiors (ultimately, the American people).
One does not sign up to enter any given war

Ideally yea, but just like there are bad cops there are "bad" soldiers, like the one's who want to "go shoot them some towel heads." Post 9/11 the majority of soldiers knew exactly which war they were getting into.

you, and the American people, have a distorted view of reality because you’re completely divorced from the war experience and have no connection to the humanity of the people who’ve been through it.

We could turn that right back, we could say you have a distorted view of living a non-military, it's all subjective, no one's reality is right.

But some of you act like it’s all bullshit all the time. It’s not.

True dat.

Hell, we might have stayed out of it if folks on the homefront were more effective.

Not a chance in hell, we remember what happened in the 60's. People fought it to hell, the government proved we really have no voice at all, than they did coke and danced disco.

But as it is people are - as they nearly always have in history - looking for a scapegoat. And many people are pointing to the troops. As though war wouldn’t happen if they didn’t sign up.

No one is pointing to the troops, we know they're not calling the shots. But they do enable those in power to keep this meaningless war going. I'm all for supporting the troops, just like I'm all for supporting the police. In my opinion most cops are nice people, I've generally had good experiences with them. They put their lives on the line every day but how many times do we hear "fuck pigs" or something similar. No one ever complains about that. The min something slightly offensive is said about a soldier that person is immediately blacklisted. I'll support most the troops, it's ungrateful not to, but I'll never support the ones like the people responsible for this "cover up" or whatever we're calling it. I'll never support the ones who signed up with a mind full of hate, his or her eyes gleaming with the chance to go to the middle east and kill them some sand diggers. I can't blindly support all the troops, they're people just like us and I don't go and blindly support every person I meet.
posted by BrnP84 at 4:28 PM on November 20, 2008


“But they do enable those in power to keep this meaningless war going.”

Well...yeah. So do civilians. The ones that voted for the people who started it. The one’s not kicking their senators and reps in the ass and not making an issue about it, etc.
So they’re as, if not more, responsible.
And I’ll add there’s more than one POV as to what’s going on in Iraq, what the mission is, etc.
I think some of what’s been done has been highly beneficial. That said - even if it somehow became the greatest strategic move in the history of the world in the promotion of liberty, I’d still be against it since it was based on a lie (fruit of the poisoned tree thing there).
But I think it’s possible to comport yourself honorably in dishonorable circumstances and work towards creating a better solution.

If someone did not believe that they’d have to renounce their U.S. citizenship. (And some folks have).

“this topic is really sketchy, we've got vets in on this conversation now and I have no doubt that this post would have over 100 comments right now if it were just "civilians" in here.”
&
“but I'll never support the ones like the people responsible for this "cover up" or whatever we're calling it. I'll never support the ones who signed up with a mind full of hate, his or her eyes gleaming with the chance to go to the middle east and kill them some sand diggers.”

I completely agree. And I think those types of morons have their eyes opened very quickly as to the realities. Typically they’re not combat troops anyway. Those kinds of folks tend to be bad for morale. No one wants someone like that in their unit. They want someone efficient who will help them survive.

Y’know, my criticism of the kind of b.s. that goes on concerning this topic is stronger and more passionate I think precisely because I’ve served.
If that passion spills over into acrimony - I apologize.
There is absolutely no way I wish to prevent someone from speaking their mind because they think it will offend me or because they think I will ‘attack’ them.
Indeed, I think addressing someone’s argument in a cogent manner (albeit long winded) does show respect for them. It’s not like I’m just saying “Fuck off” and dismissing what they say.
By the same token I see no need to avoid confronting someone with what I see to be a hypocracy or not disabusing their notions about how something works.
Someone comes in here saying hydroelectric power is a pipe dream, and I’m a hydroelectric dam engineer, I should probably point out how things work.
Otherwise I think I am being negligent.

(Also, I do defend police officers generally. Not the individuals who commit reprehensible acts. And I’m well open to arguments about reforms in policing.)

But if someone can convince me it’s some recruits’ fault that we got into Iraq, I’d be glad to hear it. Of course, there’s a long long history to consider there. And some bumper sticker rhetoric about “what if they gave a war and no one came?” isn’t going to cut it.

Like saying “what if they poured the dam, but water didn’t succumb to gravity?” - it ignores certain basic practical realities.

But peace? Hell yeah. That’d be great.
Creating a civilian oversight commission akin to an internal affairs investigative body that’s not under the Joint Chiefs of Staff to delve into matters like the ones on topic? That would be outstanding.

I would love it if the military, in this case the Army, didn’t piss all over someone’s service by pretending they died under some other circumstances.
Part of the problem is this “glory of war” bullshit, like there has to be something more than just being willing to die. Like it’s not enough to serve in a war zone, everybody’s got to be a ‘hero.’
Well, that’s bullshit.
And the difference between a veteran saying that and some college student saying that is not that the vet has any more of a right to his opinion, but that he knows it. First hand. He can speak with experience.
Oh, I’d listen to a student of history who might have a little insight on it.
But hell, no one’s brought up the Iowa or any one of a great number of other issues that could be brought up on this topic.

No, just the “troops suck” crap. So don’t give the the ‘but for’ argument that I - or any other vet - is bringing down the level of discourse.

But on topic - seriously no one remembers that? The Navy said one of the sailors involved was gay. And committed suicide. Because he was distraught over an affair. Killed 47 people.
That’s some b.s. slander right there.
As it was an investigation revealed it was probably a mechanical error.

It happens and it gets covered up. In the first gulf war the Saratoga took out the bridge of a Turkish ship, killed a few people.
I myself during an exercise saw a Navy jet fire a live missile - tracked and went right up the ass of an Air Force fighter. We were all pretty much on eggs until we saw the chutes open (Cmdr. next to me said “So...what, Navy 1, Air Force zero?”).

But that never even made the papers.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:40 PM on November 20, 2008


“The min something slightly offensive is said about a soldier that person is immediately blacklisted”

I’ll add, in case it’s not obvious (no snark, I write long) that’s alloy with my point on distorting the truth.

It does credit to the military to point out those who are not acting honorably.
Dogma is dogma. Whether it’s blanket castigation of the troops as the motivators for war or it’s blanket hero-worship as though everything good about the U.S. comes from warfighters and force.
Socially this is a bit of a trend. But I’m saying both ways hurt the troops. Both the glorification and damnation. It turns them into a fetish instead of just men and women doing a job and serving.

“I can't blindly support all the troops, they're people just like us and I don't go and blindly support every person I meet.”

Fair enough. I tend to give cops, firefighters, troops, activists, protesters, teachers, reporters, even really politicians to some degree, (pretty much everyone in a non-selfish job) a bit of the benefit of the doubt.

Nothing wrong with being selfish. Ya gotta eat. But y’know, some people work for something other than money and I do respect that.
Not to say some people don’t cloak themselves in that and use it as a way to scam folks (money, power, whatever), but y’know.
posted by Smedleyman at 5:13 PM on November 20, 2008


no snark, I write long

you do indeed

Y’know, my criticism of the kind of b.s. that goes on concerning this topic is stronger and more passionate I think precisely because I’ve served.

I've always thought that those who have served have more of a right to protest and opinion than those who haven't. I've kinda lost the whole point of this discussion, the lines have started to become blurred and for the most part I tend to agree with a lot your saying, but not completely. If I came off as a soldier hater that was not my point, I am grateful that we have people fighting for us, under different circumstances I would be alongside them.
posted by BrnP84 at 5:43 PM on November 20, 2008



Well, part of my point is - you ARE alongside them. Whether you like it or not. That’s what I’m saying. We’re all in this together. Folks who are pro-war very rarely tend to be the ones under fire.
And sure, no one likes to hear any organization they were a part of run down. But someone who is not committed to the truth and seeks to avoid or obstruct justice is not my ally whether they were or are a servicemember.
So when it comes to a case like the one on topic - I fully agree those particular guys are bastards (given the veracity of the claims - which I’m simply saying ‘I don’t know’ but I do add that it’s happened before, so...)
I just don’t like the generalization or stereotype of any group.
As it happens, I am a vet so I can speak on it.
If someone came on and said (like John Ziegler) that some black people are niggers, I’d likely have some things to say about that as well to disabuse them of that notion.

I don’t know that anyone has more or less of a ‘right’ per se. Maybe that isn’t the right word. I get what you’re saying though.

I’d just like to see open communication on this. It’s an emotional topic for a lot of people. Myself included.
But we’re never going to truly end war or even address the root causes if we satisfy ourselves with using scapegoats.
We have to address the structural causes, the roots.

Whether no one signed up or everyone and his brother signed up, people are going to find excuses to go to war as long as there’s money to be made in it.

And BOY did a lot of people make money on this one.

And I can’t help but think that’s more of the motivation to cover up friendly fire incidents like these, do all the b.s. PR and everything else - rather than the motivation just being cover for some squad’s vanity or the chain of command’s competence or some such.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:11 AM on November 21, 2008


Winter Soldier on the Hill: War Vets Testify Before Congress
posted by homunculus at 2:24 PM on November 28, 2008


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