Two veterans of company shown in “Collateral Murder” footage say “video only begins to depict the suffering we have created”
Paul Joseph Watson
Monday, April 20, 2010
Two soldiers who were in the same company as the culprits featured in the infamous Wikileaks “Collateral Murder” video, which showed troops in Apache helicopters slaughtering Reuters cameramen and children while laughing about it, have apologized for the massacre while stating that the footage only begins to depict the suffering inflicted upon innocent Iraqis as a consequence of the occupation.
The Wikileaks video provoked an international firestorm earlier this month after it showed U.S. troops slaughtering over a dozen innocent people, including two Reuters employees and the father of two children who were trapped in a rescue vehicle that also came under fire.
The two children, Sajad Salah and his little sister Duaa Salah, survived but were badly wounded. One of the soldiers who wrote the letter of apology for the massacre, Ethan McCord, was the man who rescued the children from the van after his colleagues had finished bombarding it with gunfire, conscious of the fact that children were inside, while chuckling and making excuses for themselves.
Former U.S. Army specialists Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord have now publicly apologized for the massacre, expressing in an open letter to the Iraqi people their sorrow at the incident while pointing out that it represents just one example of the brutal suffering inflicted on the Iraqis since the March 2003 invasion.
“We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions,” states the letter.
“We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.”
The regret expressed by the soldiers in the letter completely demolishes sick attempts by neo-cons to justify the unprovoked slaughter witnessed in the Wikileaks video.
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As we reported when the video was released, neo-cons immediately set about defending the massacre, with some even claiming that the footage was part of an elaborate hoax. War crime apologists claimed the murders were justified because the footage showed Iraqis pointing RPGs at U.S. troops, but as the London Guardian reported at the time, “The video shows there is no shooting or even pointing of weapons. The men are standing around, apparently unperturbed.”
A subsequent allegorical video in which Alex Jones tortured and destroyed an iPad as a way of highlighting how people care more about the suffering of inanimate objects than they do Iraqis was met with similar debauched responses, with some individuals aggressively encouraging the slaughter of puppies and children in Iraq to “keep America safe from terrorists”.
Now that U.S. troops themselves are finding their souls and expressing their deep regret for the many abuses committed in Iraq, will neo-cons and other apologists for war crimes find it in their hearts to acknowledge the fact that killing innocent journalists, children and puppies, while torturing thousands in the numerous detention camps located not just in Iraq but all over the world, is not how the good guys are supposed to behave?
Will the Apache helicopter pilots who were directly responsible for the massacre now step forward and face justice for the slaughter, thereby setting a precedent and drastically reducing the number of innocent people murdered in these kind of incidents in future? Or will they, like the neo-cons, continue to make apologies and justifications for the brutal annihilation of innocent men, women and children?
The full letter can be read below.
AN OPEN LETTER OF RECONCILIATION & RESPONSIBILITY TO THE IRAQI PEOPLE
From Current and Former Members of the U.S. Military
Peace be with you.
To all of those who were injured or lost loved ones during the July 2007 Baghdad shootings depicted in the “Collateral Murder” Wikileaks video:
We write to you, your family, and your community with awareness that our words and actions can never restore your losses.
We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.
There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.
We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.
We acknowledge our part in the deaths and injuries of your loved ones as we tell Americans what we were trained to do and what we carried out in the name of “god and country”. The soldier in the video said that your husband shouldn’t have brought your children to battle, but we are acknowledging our responsibility for bringing the battle to your neighborhood, and to your family. We did unto you what we would not want done to us.
More and more Americans are taking responsibility for what was done in our name. Though we have acted with cold hearts far too many times, we have not forgotten our actions towards you. Our heavy hearts still hold hope that we can restore inside our country the acknowledgment of your humanity, that we were taught to deny.
Our government may ignore you, concerned more with its public image. It has also ignored many veterans who have returned physically injured or mentally troubled by what they saw and did in your country. But the time is long overdue that we say that the value of our nation’s leaders no longer represent us. Our secretary of defense may say the U.S. won’t lose its reputation over this, but we stand and say that our reputation’s importance pales in comparison to our common humanity.
We have asked our fellow veterans and service-members, as well as civilians both in the United States and abroad, to sign in support of this letter, and to offer their names as a testimony to our common humanity, to distance ourselves from the destructive policies of our nation’s leaders, and to extend our hands to you.
With such pain, friendship might be too much to ask. Please accept our apology, our sorrow, our care, and our dedication to change from the inside out. We are doing what we can to speak out against the wars and military policies responsible for what happened to you and your loved ones. Our hearts are open to hearing how we can take any steps to support you through the pain that we have caused.
Solemnly and Sincerely,
Josh Stieber, former specialist, U.S. Army
Ethan McCord, former specialist, U.S. Army
This article was posted: Tuesday, April 20, 2010 at 5:02 am