Tuesday, November 09, 2010

How to excuse a murder (copy of letter sent to "The Monthly".

It's not often that journalistic bias in a piece that condemns it in it's subject is as obvious as in John Birmingham's hatchet job on Julian Assange. First there's the entirely irrelevant start that tries to blame him for an attack he had nothing to do with. Then there's the attempt to link greater efforts to not kill civilians with greater civilian deaths. I note that he wasn't quite brave enough to state claim causality, but without it what relevance does this bit have?

Finally after the ground has been fertilized there is the claim that wikileaks identified "hundreds - possibly thousands" of collaborators. I believe the actual number is three. http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread598661/pg1 That's the only number I could get from any source that actually checked the facts, unlike you Mr. Birmingham. If there had indeed been hundreds let alone thousands of collaborators identified then of course that would "damage national security" in the mind of David Lapan. Since he specifically said there was nothing in them that could damage national security even your own piece implies that there were not these hundreds you claim.

Then there are the absurd attacks on the journalistic ethics of wikileaks. They have not to my knowledge published a single false fact in the affair (except what false facts were in official government documents). They have been substantially less biased than the average news report on TV, which is admittedly not saying much. If mainstream media hadn't been caught parroting lies over both wars the claims that journalistic ethics were important might have some crediblility, but they did and it doesn't. As an example of the "long-established ethics and standards of the reporting profession" when was the last time a report about a proposed law didn't assume that it's authors were telling the truth about what the law was for? For instance a law about searching for knives is always presented as being intended as a way to crack down on criminals when we all know the police already have the power to search with probable cause. I see what you mean about a "compact with the state... authorities" though. Without such reporters might actually say what the laws were for.

Anyone who feels themselves wronged by anything that wikileaks says can of course reply, unless they're too stupid to operate a blog. The purpose of a story is not to give people time to excuse their bad behaviour. They did what they did, here's the evidence.

Finally we come to your pathetic and abominable excuse for the mass murders in the "Collateral Murder" video. You state that there is talk of weapons fire in the video yet nobody killed in the video fires a weapon or does anything that looks like they're about to. There is simply no action by any of those killed that would suggest an attempt to fire on anyone or the thought that they might have to. People who are about to fire on US forces take cover they don't stand around in the middle of the street. I have never been clearer about anything that I've seen in film than I am that these were not people about to engage in combat. Of course you can claim that I'm wise after the event, but that's just bullshit. Anyone can see they're not threatening. There is nothing that looks enough like a weapon to justify taking a life. The claim that weapons were later found merely makes it look like someone brought a throw-down, as is known to happen in Iraq. The video shows NO evidence of them and nobody has claimed it does. Not even you.

Naturally you refer to the graininess of the video to excuse the killers. But they knew of the quality of their equipment and choose to use it, badly, to determine whether someone lived or died. That was their moral decision and if they can't make moral decisions in combat they shouldn't be in it. If they gather and use information in a firefight in way that allows them to act like moral people then they were morally reprehensible for every getting in that chopper. This is not "naive" or "simplistic" or any of the other words horrible people use to describe people who are inconveniently decent. It's is simply the truth.

This didn't need to be leaked you claim, which is a lie and you know it. If the video showed only facts that were previously reported then why was it suppressed for years? I understand that someone who was embedded with the troops and sympathetic to them reported on it, but he didn't see the video did he? So he reported on reports by those involved, which is no substitute for the real facts. He explained "minute by minute" how the reporters came to be fired on. In that report did he mention that at the time NONE of the forces involved was being fired upon or believed that they would be fired upon between the firing and their reaching the site? Because that is obvious from the speed of their arrival and the fact that this non-threat was occupied the Apache's time. Did he leave that bit out or was that just you? I'm trying to pinpoint precisely who is making what excuses for murderers.

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