Sgt. Ricky Clousing went to war in Iraq because, he said, he believed he would simultaneously be serving his nation and serving God.
But after more than four months on the streets of Baghdad and Mosul interrogating Iraqis rounded up by American troops, Sergeant Clousing said, he began to believe that he was serving neither.
He said he saw American soldiers shoot and kill an unarmed Iraqi teenager, and rode in an Army Humvee that sideswiped Iraqi cars and shot an old man’s sheep for fun -- both incidents Sergeant Clousing reported to superiors. He said his work as an interrogator led him to conclude that the occupation was creating a cycle of anti-American resentment and violence. After months of soul-searching on his return to Fort Bragg, Sergeant Clousing, 24, failed to report for duty one day.
In a court-martial here on Thursday, an Army judge sentenced Sergeant Clousing to 11 months in confinement for going AWOL, absent without leave. He will serve three months because of a pretrial agreement in which he pleaded guilty.
"My experiences in Iraq forced me to re-evaluate my beliefs and my ethics," Sergeant Clousing said, sitting stiff-backed in the witness chair. "I ultimately felt I could not serve."
The above is from Laurie Goodstein's "A Soldier Hoped to Do Good, but Was Changed by War" in this morning's New York Times. That's right, you can read about Clousing's court-martial in the New York Times. Couldn't hear about it or read about it on/in most independent media yesterday. Is the article perfect? No. For instance, "Five sat in the courtroom on Thursday, in uniform, waiting to hear clues about their future in the judge’s sentence." Who are the five?
But the reality is that the New York Times covered it. Looking at the e-mails this morning, people note that they heard about a gala on the east coast, they heard upcoming appearances, they just didn't hear about Ricky Clousing -- whom Goodstein was able to speak to. In fact, yesterday, before the court-martial, Clousing held a press conference but independent media wasn't interested either.
If you're going to finger point at big media, you probably need to be covering what you say matters. For instance, if you think that The NewsHour should have had at least one peace activist on from October 05 through March 06, it's probably a good idea for you to have put one on your own program. Anyone who is confused by that can refer to The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Are You On CounterSpin's Guest List?" which has a planned follow up piece for this Sunday.
You should also check this morning's gina & krista round-robin for a strong critique of the ignoring of Iraq by a member whose brother ships out to Iraq this month.
Turning to Iraq (and biting my tongue), Kirk Semple and Qais Mizher report on the Wednesday attack on a TV station in Baghdad with "Gunmen Kill 11 Employees of a Satellite Television Station in Baghdad:"
Neighbors who witnessed the raid reported seeing assailants in police uniforms, but government officials denied that their forces were involved and said they had opened an investigation. Security officials have said that crimes are often committed by people wearing stolen uniforms.
The attack began about 7 a.m. when five sport utility vehicles and a pickup truck with police markings pulled up in front of the station headquarters in southeastern Baghdad, witnesses said. The gunmen stormed the house and shot everyone they found, employees and witnesses said.
Two employees were seriously wounded and left for dead. They remained in critical condition in a Baghdad hospital late Thursday, Iraqi police and the station’s staff members said. An employee and his two daughters, who were asleep on the rooftop, managed to escape unharmed.
On the same topic, Martha notes Ellen Knickmeyer and Naseer Nouri's "Gunmen Attack TV Station in Baghdad" (Washington Post):
"The killing police left the scene after killing those Iraqis," said Saad Saleem, a 43-year-old teacher who lives near the house where the station is located. Gesturing at police who responded to cordon off the station after the killings, Saleem said: "These police arrived only later. For us, Iraqis, we cannot tell the difference."
Supposedly, the uniforms are stolen and supposedly a switch to a new version of uniforms will address the issue. Are the vehicles stolen as well? With all the alleged theft of uniforms in the last few months, you'd think, were it true, police officers would be left to patrol Baghdad in their underwear at this point.
Again, the Times covered Ricky Clousing's case. Dropping back to yesterday's question: Where was independent media?
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