Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

I'm sorry I'm a bit late in picking this up, but blogger and journalist Kevin Sites is all over the news for the video he took of a US Marine shooting what appeared to be an unarmed prisoner in Falluja. There is a post on his blog that you must read about his position and the circumstances around his taking and releasing the video. There is article on the front page of today's IHT about this as well, but I can't seem to find it online.

via Xeni @ Boing Boing


War is about killing your enemy before he kills you.

In the particular circumstance I was reporting, it bothered me that the Marine didn't seem to consider the other insurgents a threat -- the one very obviously moving under the blanket, or even the two next to me that were still breathing.

I can't know what was in the mind of that Marine. He is the only one who does.

Had not heard about this before. It really sounds like the guy had an itchy trigger finger and inconsistent methods of threat assesment, but heck -- I might have done the same thing if I was scared enough. Thanks for sharing this. Excellent work, Kevin Sites.

"The Marines have built their proud reputation on fighting for freedoms like the one that allows me to do my job,(...)"


"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here (...)"

bogus 2

The Guardian published Kevin Site's blog posting as their lead front-page article in today's print version of the newspaper. Is this a first?

It might be, but they also posted a lot from the Baghdad blogger during the war. The OpinionJournal ran a piece from an Australian blogger, but not sure if it ran in the WSJ (it was an interesting "besides bombs and Fallujah, what else is going on in Iraq piece).

Don't know what to think about the shooting. I'm not going to scream "war crime" in the lawlessness that was Fallujah. Heck, most Iraqis I've heard from have said "good riddance" to the insurgents. But it wasn't proper military procedure to just off the guy like that, no threat apparent. Like Kevin Sites said, it just doesn't make sense.

I actually used to work with General Sattler (the Marine in charge in Iraq) when I was on Capitol Hill. He's a pretty a straight and honest guy. I think he was a bit shocked to see what happened. From what I know of him, he's pretty thorough and it won't be a whitewash if he deals with it (unless it gets taken from him by the Pentagon and dealt with outside of his unit--not sure)

I remember taking a course somewhere where we discussed the role of technology in military affairs as it relates to some of the psychological issues that affect the troops. For example, up until World War I, you basically saw the person you killed. But then came long range artillery and aerial bombardments. The distance increased throughout the years, and so did the disconnect, with US pilots in Vietnam dropping their payloads and then flying out of the "war zone" to bases hundreds of miles away. Heck, in Gulf War I the guys took off from US, flew all night, launched their weapons, and came home the next day to see their families.

I'm reminded of this because had the Marines stayed outside and called in an airstrike or a tank blast to clear the Mosque, nobody would have said a thing. It was the "face-to-face-ness" of it that made it an issue...

Go figure

I totally agree with Mike B. and Andrew:
1. This is a likely rattled 18 year old kid. How are we supposed to expect him to assess threats with some decision rule accurately every time? I think of the undergraduates at my university and the stresses they experience in the course of college life. I can't imagine what fighting in Fallujah was like. I really like what Stiles said. This bothered him-it certainly is the hardest edge of war-but none of us can make second judgements until we experience something like Fallujah ourselves. Bad turbulence on flights between conferences (I'm poking fun at myself here) is no substitute.
2. The intimacy of this is what bothers people. Crucify this kid and the message you send to young US troops is not "Uphold the laws of war young men" but rather "call in an airstrike and waste 'em all=I go home alive and never have 60 Minutes at my door"

I assume you folks don't wanna know, is that correct?

I haven't seen anything close here, but the folks commenting on Jarvis' propaganda were somewhat (some of them) but not entirely.

Iow, the threat assessment was near-perfect, although I've never been in the military nor a war correspondent, so I couldn't possibly know, right?

Know more about it that you BS "artists"...

The reporter had the right to publish/televise this footage. The constitution that these guys fight to defend guarentees him that right. Beyond that "right" however is the issue of decency. We fight an enemy devoid of morals. They lack any sort of respect for life. They will destroy us if given the chance. Thousands of snuffed out lives bear witness to that fact in silence. The broader consideration that this reporter should have understood is that he now is not only a pawn for NBC and the liberal agenda, but also for the islamofascist recruiters. I don't think that Kevin Sites would disagree that the millitary is attempting to be as humane as possible in this dirty venture. Unfortunately the enemy thay face is without any sense of decency or limit. Women, children, civilian men, merchants, aid workers, doctors...targets all. In their deaths lies the thread of hope for a talibanish regime.

As his career advances, Kevin Sites will always have to consider his big "break." It may well have been a war crime. The problem is that the Zarquawi's of the world don't have embedded reporters. Site's piece, and the constant barrage of anti american bullshit on NPR and the networks continues to weaken our resolve to do the right thing. Sites is a modern day Lady Macbeth. "Out Damned Spot!" Well Kevin, the American blood that you spilled will never come out. It is engraved on your conscience as surely as if you built the IED yourself. Of course you are probably not clever enough to build one. You are a simple voyeur. Devoid of vision. Devoid of honor. I hope you enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Doctor Bone

For those who don't practice journalism as a profession, it may be difficult to understand why we must report stories like this at all -- especially if they seem to be aberrations.