First, the New York Times story on the death of Army Staff Sgt. Hector Leija by their news staff. Michelle Malkin has the story here.
I am writing to express my profound disappointment in The New York Times's decision to publish a photograph of a mortally wounded American soldier in its Jan. 29 issue and Web site posting.
In a nutshell, the Times allowed pictures of this brave soldier's death to be posted on their website before the family could be informed. But there was more then stills. A video was hosted by the Times showing the last moments of Sgt. Leija's life, the collection of his personal effects and the swath of blood left where his friends dragged him from the room where he was ambushed.
This is in direct violation of the NEWS MEDIA GROUND RULES (IAW Change 3, DoD Directive 5122.5) Ground Rules Agreement imposed on the media by the Multinational Corps - Iraq.
Here is a pdf of those rules; the operational section violated by New York Times personnel is at the top of page two, section 11.
These regulations were not followed and we will perhaps never know how this affected the family of Staff Sgt. Hector Leija. The offending reporter and cameraman were not punished. They are still in theater, just not allowed to embed with the unit of the slain soldier. They are free to go with any other unit.
11) Media will not be prohibited from covering casualties provided the following conditions are adhered to:
(a) Names, video, identifiable written/oral descriptions or identifiable photographs of wounded service members will not be released without
service member’s prior written consent.
(b) DOD will release names of KIAs. In respect for family members, names or images clearly identifying individuals "killed in action" will not be released. Names of KIAs may be released 24 hours after Next of Kin have been notified. [Emphasis mine]
Why the Commander allowed this is unknown. It makes no sense to reward this kind of unethical behavior by journalists. The video is still up on the NY Times web site. I refuse to reference it here.
The second item concerns a piece of media trash by the name of William Arkin who works for the Washington Post. First Arkins calls our troops "mercenaries" and then insinuates that they are magnificently remunerated for their sevice.
So, we pay the soldiers a decent wage, take care of their families, provide them with housing and medical care and vast social support systems and ship obscene amenities into the war zone for them, we support them in every possible way, and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead, defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?
Actually the private makes less. Wegman's grocery store here in central NY pays $8.00 an hour, that's what they paid my daughter three years ago.
But it is the United States, and the recent NBC report is just an ugly reminder of the price we pay for a mercenary - oops sorry, volunteer - force that thinks it is doing the dirty work.
America needs to ponder what it is we really owe those in uniform. I don't believe America needs a draft though I imagine we'd be having a different discussion if we had one.
These men and women are not fighting for money with little regard for the nation. The situation might be much worse than that: Evidently, far too many in uniform believe that they are the one true nation. They hide behind the constitution and the flag and then spew an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal, anti-journalism, anti-dissent, and anti-citizen message that reflects a certain contempt for the American people. lEmphasis mine]
I never said we shouldn't support the troops. I just lamented that "we support them in every possible way
and their attitude is that we should in addition roll over and play dead,
defer to the military and the generals and let them fight their war, and give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up because they are above society?"
[...] something is inculcated into the minds of military members from day one of duty. It is not just defense of the Constitution, it is also unanimity of thought and an unwavering regard for hierarchy. Without this, you can't have a military and you can't expect human beings to go against their instincts to put their lives on the line.
I'm not saying that this makes people in the military automatons, or that they are stupid. But this unanimity of thought and this absolute allegiance to a hierarchy of ideas is and should be foreign in the civilian world. That's what makes the two different.
Bush and company, and the Abizaid's, Casey's, and Petraeus's have had years to make their case to the American people that the threat is so great and the mission so noble that the sacrifice is worth it. They clearly have failed to make their case and that is why the majority of Americans no longer support the war.
"give up our rights and responsibilities to speak up"
That is what truly threatens this country. Not a strong military but a weak, immoral civilian population.
Remember this - we get our military and police recruits from the civilian society at large, not from a clone factory in Utah.