American soldiers in Iraq have been making videos of their wartime experiences and posting them to web sites for their friends and families back home to view. The Guardian reports that:
“these homemade war videos offer an insight into modern warfare and the psyche of the average serviceman which conventional broadcast news and current affairs coverage cannot get close to.”
Indeed, the mainstream press sanitizes this war to the point that it could be included in a video game and still be considered lame by the teenagers that play it. Maybe that sort of desensitizing is intentional, so as not to dampen recruiting efforts. The reality is much more difficult to endure. The soldiers shooting these videos are engaging in a form of self-expression that can be gut wrenching, but that very quality is what makes it so much more relevant and enlightening than anything the media is producing.
Well, the military brass will have none of that. This, after all, is the government that forbids photographs of ceremonies honoring fallen soldiers as their remains are returned to Dover Air Force Base. This is the Commander in Chief that has never attended a funeral for a casualty of his misbegotten war. Why then would anyone expect that they would allow a candid expression from a soldier like this one who said:
“it made him feel good to bring the gruesome reality of a soldier’s life in Iraq to those living safely behind their ‘clean, white picket fences at home’.”
The media has been embarrassingly absent in coverage of this war. From the beginning with Judith Miller’s discredited ramblings on Iraq’s imagined threat, to the farce of embedding reporters with troops, there have been very few revelations emanating from the mainstream press. Even major stories like Abu Ghraib would not have come to light but for the very kind of amateur video the Pentagon nows seeks to abolish.
So now, an administration whose PR regularly regurgitates rosy scenarios is banning laptop computers from U.S. bases in Iraq. A government that is steeped in secrecy is infringing on the free speech of soldiers serving in combat. It kind of makes you wonder what they are fighting for.
UPDATE: There are reports that the Pentagon is keeping a tight watch on the Internet with civilian contractors monitoring sites like YouTube and MySpace.
“…US Central Command – which is responsible for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan – does have a team reading blogs and responding to what they consider inaccuracies about the so-called war on terror.”
It makes me feel so much safer knowing that CenCom is surveiling the web while insurgents are burying IEDs in the Green Zone.