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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Media Matters: Front Page News

On the front pages of the international msm this past week:

Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md.
Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich.
Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa
Staff Sgt. Jonathan M. Metzger, 32, of Indianapolis, Ind.
Spc. Robert J. Tauteris Jr., 44, of Hamlet, Ind.
Christopher A. Patterson, 20, of Aurora, Ill.
Spc. Brian J. Leonhardt, 21, of Merrillville, Ind.
Pfc. Dustin P. Napier, 20, of London, Ky
Pfc. Michael W. Pyron, 30, of Hopewell, Va
Pfc. Neil I. Turner, 21, of Tacoma, Wash

You might be excused if you missed the msm headlines on these Fallen American Heroes this past week.

Maybe you saw these stories on the front pages of the international msm:

TF Spartan Paratroopers Rescue Afghan Child
UK and Afghan Troops help open critical new school

I'm sure you saw these on the front pages:

Ghazni District Transfers Security
Afghan boy with severe cleft palate has reason to smile - courtesy of Coalition Forces

How about combat news from our Troops?

ANA, Marines clear out last insurgency from southern Helmand
New ANA elite snipers graduate course
Operation Tageer Shamal: Afghans, Marines take control west of Helmand River

Did you miss this story of our British Troops 'just doing their job,' making a difference for the people of Afghanistan?

YORKS soldiers on patrol in Helmand

I am *sure* you all saw this video as the top story of the broadcast media last week. It is an interview with a Security Chief in Marjah, on how things have changed since the Taleban has been thrown out - defeated.

Video: Marjah after the Taleban - Security Chief Tells of Progress

No, you saw none of these on the international front pages, BUT I found them and posted these (and others) on War On Terror News.

What we all saw on the msm front page news, and as top story on the broadcast media, was a story about four Marines who filmed themselves doing something very stupid. Whether or not you agree with the act they did is not at issue for me, but the fact they recorded it? Yes, THAT was stupid, and I have to wonder how they ever thought such a film would not become 'news,' given the 24/7 insatiable appetite of our msm, who seem to salivate at every opportunity to show OUR Military in a bad light.

You think me too harsh in my observation of the msm? Think on this: How many times in the current Global War On Terror have you read stories - never mind front page - about the GREAT things the hundreds of thousands of our coalition Military do How many front page stories have you read of the lives of our Fallen Heroes, as the families and loved ones come to grips with their loss? You can get back to me on that one. However, get a film of FOUR Marines somehow hitting the public view, and the international msm has it as their lead story, along with their verdict of 'disgusting'...'sickening'...'despicable acts'....blah blah. And that's just the *reporters* - you know, those hired to give "just the facts, ma'am!"

Of course, more than a few politicans piled on, with their 'outrage' etc etc, even as ISAF released a statement:

KABUL, Afghanistan (Jan. 12, 2012) --
A video recently posted on a public website appears to show U.S. military personnel committing an inappropriate act with enemy corpses. This disrespectful act is inexplicable and not in keeping with the high moral standards we expect of coalition forces. [Yes, emphasis mine.]
ISAF strongly condemns the actions depicted in the video, which appear to have been conducted by a small group of U.S. individuals, who apparently are no longer serving in Afghanistan.

Nevertheless, this behavior dishonors the sacrifices and core values of every service member representing the fifty nations of the coalition.

Therefore, a United States Criminal Investigatory agency has launched an investigation. It will be thorough and any individuals with confirmed involvement will be held fully accountable.

I didn't see that widely distributed, but by the second day of all of this, my local media (outside the US) had somehow managed to turn down their 'outrage,' and it was now using the term 'appears to be...' and it was now the third story in, rather than the top story.

Congressman Allen West - himself a Combat Veteran - had something to say about all the armchair Generals' commentary:

“I have sat back and assessed the incident with the video of our Marines urinating on Taliban corpses. I do not recall any self-righteous indignation when our Delta snipers Shugart and Gordon had their bodies dragged through Mogadishu. Neither do I recall media outrage and condemnation of our Blackwater security contractors being killed, their bodies burned, and hung from a bridge in Fallujah.

“All these over-emotional pundits and armchair quarterbacks need to chill. Does anyone remember the two Soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division who were beheaded and gutted in Iraq?

“The Marines were wrong. Give them a maximum punishment under field grade level Article 15 (non-judicial punishment), place a General Officer level letter of reprimand in their personnel file, and have them in full dress uniform stand before their Battalion, each personally apologize to God, Country, and Corps videotaped and conclude by singing the full US Marine Corps Hymn without a teleprompter.

“As for everyone else, unless you have been shot at by the Taliban, shut your mouth, war is hell.”

As writer William R. Mann wrote on Canada Free Press:

A voice of sanity. Thank you, Congressman Allen West [LTC, USA, Retired].

May I suggest that Her Royal Highness HR Clinton and Professor Panetta take all of their liberal civilian buddies out to fight against the Taliban (once they have rid this country of these “monstrous” Marines])? Come, teach all of us Active, Retired and Veteran military how to lead soldiers in combat, and what their punishments should be for what amounts to malicious mischief. They understand NOTHING about the dynamics of complex emotional and psychological factors running through the minds of young soldiers and actions before, during and after a firefight. Acts of tasteless exuberance in thought word and deed afterwards is not at all uncommon....(here)

And that was a predominant theme, from Veterans. As one said:

Biden says those Taliban weren't even the enemy anyway. And Obama wants to release the Talib big wigs and give them a cush office in Qatar, so they can negotiate their way back into power in Afghanistan.


You know where it got stupid? When some dumbass thought to himself, this would be a good video to share with others that may not have the same sense of combat, and knowledge of the enemy that we do.

I wonder if Nick Berg would be outraged? Or Daniel Pearl? Or the Marine Sentenced to death by the Islamist Tyranny of Iran? Or Neda? I wonder if those Afghan girls scarred by Talib acid would be outraged? I wonder if those Afghan women stoned to death for "adultery" would be outraged? I wonder if the Pakistani girl raped by a village, as punishment for walking alone with a non-related male would be outraged? Does the media find these things outrageous enough to report?

We know the answer to that one, of course. And there's the rub. The msm chooses to run stories of four Marines - and feign outrage - whilst at the same time almost always ignoring every other thing our Troops have done. ...

Almost on a daily basis, I read about atrocities Taliban thugs are rendering on their own countrymen, women and children. And yes, how they abuse their own dead, not to mention ours, ..but of course, Afghan President Karzai joined the line of those 'outraged' and condemned that filmed act as "shocking... completely inhumane.' Right. Seems to me that maybe Karzai should look to cleaning his own house before he starts calling OUR guys 'inhumane.' Hypocrit much? Oh, and of course, CAIR got in on the general chorus of 'presumed guilt...' Never a group to let any opportunity go unheeded in which to express their outrage, CAIR condemned the incident:

“We condemn this apparent desecration of the dead as a violation of our nation’s military regulations and of international laws of war prohibiting such disgusting and immoral actions,...”

Pardon me if my response to CAIR or Karzai is incredulity. Refer back to even just a few of the incidents mentioned by the Veteran.

Apart from the Veteran quoted above, other US Veterans also had plenty to say on both the original video, and the media response.

Over at The Sandgram, there is this:


Do I personally care about what they did? Not really and not something I would personally do. We don’t know what these guys have been through. Is this their sixth tour over there? Did they just lose a buddy in the firefight that day? We don’t know anything about what lead up to the incident. Just like the photo of the Police Chief in VN shooting the guy in the head point blank. On the face of it, horrible, but dig into what lead him up to that moment when he put a .38 to another human’s head and pulled the trigger…very interesting.

Do I think it was Egregious behavior? Yes, this is no better then AQ hanging our contractors from the bridge in Iraq or the retards in Somalia dragging our soldier’s through the streets naked. You have to understand that this stuff has been going on since the birth of man unfortunately. How about all the beheadings AQ has done over the years? Where is the condemnation over that??? You’ll never see it. Double Standard…

I sure have to laugh at the comments about this story on …and I mean there are over 3,050 of them. Many of them are like this which tells you what??? Mind you, these are average American’s commenting on the enemy. They only know what they know looking at the War through a pair of reversed Bino’s.

“News Flash……….Taliban fighters get first bath in two years…….U.S. Marines provided them with shower……….Boy, were they pisssssssed.”

Or this from a woman…” these marines killed the guys who have been trying TO KILL THEM!! dont judge what their doing while your sitting in your comfortable office, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT COMBAT IS LIKE! how bout WWII soldiers that decorated their tanks with the heads of dead jap soldiers. we train these men to be heartless killers….to see the oppisition as TARGETS…nothing more. ITS WAR PEOPLE….GROWUP!!!”

Another woman: “who gives a flying F???? they are dead, and everyone hates them including the afghans!! Maybe Karzai should be concerned at how he runs his country and how they treat women there??? We all know he is a puppet and that everyone else runs him!! he is a joke and we all know it!! :)

I am not even cherry picking these: “What are the rules? 1. kill them – 2. make sure they are dead. 3. be nice to them.”

Go read the rest of this one here.

Over at BlackFive, Deebow gives his 2 cents worth. Deebow is another Veteran, You know: been there, done that.

Wars and battle are ugly things. The very insides of the dark side of humanity and the razor thin margins of how close we come to being animals when we fight our enemies rises to the very top for all to see. It is not pretty and it is not polite. When you fight an enemy that prefers death to surrender and straps bombs to little children and records it for posterity to blast out all over the world wide web, you need to start fighting a little fire with fire. Spending every day with death tugging at your elbow while, in some cases, watching your men die, some of them good friends. Seeing this happen right in front of you every day can lead to a thirst for revenge and pay back those life debts that few will ever know. ..


The nature of warriors is something that only warriors will ever know. Those that have never experienced this will never know why these men felt the need to do what they did. But if our military is going to be effective in the long run, our enemies must fear us. They must believe that we are capable of unspeakable evil and every now and then, we have to pull back the curtain a little and let them see a smidgen of what we are holding the lid on while we bomb them further into the stone age. That fear of what those warriors are capable of will save lives.

Was it wrong for these Marines to do this? Sure. Was there a breakdown in leadership? No Doubt. Do I understand with 100 percent certainty why they did it? Absolutely.

Go read the rest of this one here. Bouhammer is a site also written by a US Veteran. He has this:

Anyone that has watched any news this morning or been reading it online probably knows about the video that appears to show US Marines urinating on dead Taliban fighters. I say “appears” because well these guys are INNOCENT until proven guilty. All too often the same people who many in this county feel sorry for and think aren’t able to do anything but serve in the military are held to a completely different standard and aren’t afforded the same rights they fight to protect. I agree the video looks pretty bad, but so did the bloody glove that didn’t fit. However I would hope that American and the World does not convict these guys in public opinion before they are given a fair chance in a court of military law. If they did do this act and if there are no extenuating circumstances and are found guilty, then they should be punished based on the Uniformed Code of Military Justice and not on the Media hype or Congressional babbling that may come from this.


Is it morally wrong to desecrate and disrespect a body? In the sane world of what we in the western nations consider “right or wrong”, yes it is. Do people of other nations or beliefs feel that way? No not at all. Does that make it right for us to do it? No.

However if these guys did it, they are humans. They are flawed, they have emotions and they get caught up int the moment. They have probably seen more of their buddies killed, ripped apart and maimed on the six tours this unit has had then most people could stomach. They are worn out, worn down and just plain tired of fighting an enemy that has no rules, morals or cares about any human life of any nationality while they (all US Forces) have to comply with layer after layer of rules, laws and regulations about what is fair and not fair...

Much more here.

This Ain't Hell also had some words on this (and a great title, too!) and is well worth a read for the thoughtful debate that went on in the comments. Go here for their take on the brouhaha.

From all the reading I have done on this, a general consensus has emerged that a) yes, these Marines were stupid; b) that their behaviour warrants some form of punishment; c) that yes, the Taleban does far far worse to their dead - someone even provided a video link here to an example; d) even agreeing that c) is true, and I do, it has been suggested that nevertheless we should - and DO - hold our Troops to a higher standard than the barbarism, and inhumane behaviour of the Taleban enemy, and finally e) that this matter should be adjudicated within the Military, and not in the court of public opinion via the msm.

As the first Veteran I mentioned said further on in his remarks:

There has been a gross overaction at every level on this. Perhaps, if the media was reporting all the atrocities of the enemy, all the good deeds of Our Troops, or at least those things in proportional representation to this type of thing...

For me, that IS the bottom line: the way the media has run with this, even as they choose to ignore any of the other events related to our Military at the beginning of this column.

I look forward to the day when our international media gives the same time and effort to the stories of new schools and roads being built, children born with medical issues, helped to new lives by our Troops, agriculture programmes being nurtured, and all the other many stories that show that the actions of these four Marines are the exception, rather than the rule.

I really DO look forward to that day..

*cross-posted from Assoluta Tranquillita*