Greg Palast / Guardian & UPI – 2006-11-03 23:27:22
“I Want to Hurt Somebody”
Greg Palast / Guardian
LONDON (November 2, 2006) — It was pure war-nography. The front page of the New York Times today splashed a four-column-wide close-up of a blood-covered bullet in the blood-soaked hands of an army medic who’d retrieved it from the brain of Lance Cpl. Colin Smith.
There was a 40 column-inch profile of the medic. There were photos of the platoon, guns over shoulders, praying for the fallen buddy. The Times is careful not to ruin the heroic mood, so there is no photograph of pieces of corporal Smith’s shattered head. Instead, there’s an old, smiling photo of the wounded soldier.
The reporter, undoubtedly wearing the Kevlar armor of the troop in which he’s “embedded,” quotes at length the thoughts of the military medic: “I would like to say that I am a good man. But seeing this now, what happened to Smith, I want to hurt people. You know what I mean?”
The reporter does not bother — or dare — to record a single word from any Iraqi in the town of Karma where Smith’s platoon was, “performing a hard hit on a house.”
I don’t know what a “hard hit” is. But I don’t think I’d want one “performed” on my home. Maybe Iraqis feel the way I do.
We won’t know. The only Iraqi noted by the reporter was, “a woman [who] walked calmly between the sniper and the marines.”
The Times reporter informs us that Lance Cpl. Smith, “said a prayer today,” before he charged into the village. We’re told that Smith had, “the cutest little blond girlfriend” and “his dad was his hero.” Did the calm woman also say her prayers today? Is her dad her hero, too? We don’t know. No one asks.
The reporter and his photographer did visit a home in the neighborhood — but only after the “hit” force kicked in the door. I suppose that’s an improvement over the typical level of reporting we get. In dispatches home by the few US journalists who brave beyond the Green Zone, Iraqis are little more than dark shapes glimpsed through the slots of a speeding Humvee.
Last month there was a big hoo-ha over the statistical accuracy of a Johns Hopkins University study estimating that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of this war.
I doubt the Iraqi who fired that bullet into Lance Cpl. Smith read the Hopkins study. Iraqis don’t need a professor of statistics to tell them what happens in a “hard hit” on a house. Of civilians killed by the US forces the Hopkins team found 46% are younger than fifteen years old.
I grieve for Lance Cpl. Smith and I can’t know for certain what moved the sniper to pick up a gun and shoot him. However, I’ve no doubt that, like the Marines who said prayers before they invaded the homes of the terrified residents of Karma, the sniper also said a prayer before he loaded the 7.62mm shell into his carbine.
And if we asked, I’m sure the sniper would tell us, “I am a good man, but seeing what happened, I want to hurt people.”
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse Go to
German Elite Soldiers Used Nazi Symbol
BERLIN, Nov. 1 (UPI) — Germany’s elite soldiers in Afghanistan have painted a Nazi symbol onto their vehicles, a German news magazine reported.
The soldiers of the elite unit Kommando Spezialkraefte, or KSK, had sprayed a palm tree and an iron cross onto their vehicles, a symbol reminiscent of one used during World War II by the Wehrmacht’s in Africa, German news magazine Stern reports in its latest issue, which will hit the newsstands Thursday.
Stern published a photograph of a white off-road vehicle with the symbol on it, used during the KSK’s training in Oman and later in a mission in Afghanistan, the magazine said.
In the Nazi era, the famed Africa Corps under the command of ‘Desert Fox’ Erwin Rommel used a similar symbol, a palm tree with a swastika painted across.
“Some of our guys are stuck in the past and thought it was cool to drive around with this Wehrmacht emblem,” an unidentified KSK soldier, who was not named, told Stern. “I and others found it sickening.”
The German defense ministry has said it has launched an investigation.
The news comes as the German armed forces are battling a scandal involving the desecration of human skulls in Afghanistan.
The pictures caused outrage in Germany with Chancellor Angela Merkel vowing to quickly punish those responsible. So far, six soldiers have been dismissed from the armed forces, with a total of 23 people under investigation.