Monday, November 22, 2004

He's walked his own mile

Babble on.

You should read Kevin Sites' own account of the events surrounding his incendiary video footage, and his efforts to remain as even-handed a journalist as possible under extremely challenging circumstances (via Pogge). It is written as an open letter to the Marines with whom he was embedded:

No one, especially someone like me who has lived in a war zone with you, would deny that a solider or Marine could legitimately err on the side of caution under those circumstances. 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.


Sites' words regarding his own reservations about and motives for finally airing the piece he did resonate with a raw honesty:

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, and not representative of the behavior or character of an organization as a whole.

The answer is not an easy one.

In war, as in life, there are plenty of opportunities to see the full spectrum of good and evil that people are capable of. As journalists, it is our job is to report both -- though neither may be fully representative of those people on whom we're reporting. For example, acts of selfless heroism are likely to be as unique to a group as the darker deeds. But our coverage of these unique events, combined with the larger perspective - will allow the truth of that situation, in all of its complexities, to begin to emerge. That doesn't make the decision to report events like this one any easier. It has, for me, led to an agonizing struggle -- the proverbial long, dark night of the soul.
...
The Marines have built their proud reputation on fighting for freedoms like the one that allows me to do my job, a job that in some cases may appear to discredit them. But both the leaders and the grunts in the field like you understand that if you lower your standards, if you accept less, than less is what you'll become.

There are people in our own country that would weaken your institution and our nation – by telling you it's okay to betray our guiding principles by not making the tough decisions, by letting difficult circumstances turns us into victims or worse...villains.
...
So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility.

The burdens of war, as you so well know, are unforgiving for all of us.

I pray for your soon and safe return.


Read it all.

Babble off.

0 Comments:

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home