Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sgt John M. Russell shoots 5 US soldiers in Iraq

Yesterday, a US soldier shot five others in Baghdad. Ernesto London (Washington Post) is reporting that Sgt John M. Russell is the soldier who shot the five. We'll come back to that but first, last night, broadcast news covered it. How did they do?

ABC World News Tonight did the best job (click here for Martha Raddatz and Luis Martinez' text report and the video -- video is of the report aired on World News Tonight).

Charlie Gibson: There was a tragic incident in Iraq today that is a stark reminder that while the demands on US forces in Iraq may be diminishing, the mental stress on service members remains high. A soldier this afternoon opened fire in a clinic in Baghdad that was treating military personnel for stress and suicide prevention. 5 American soldiers were killed, four others wounded including the shooter who is in custody. It was the worst case of soldier on soldier violence since this war began. ABC's Martha Raddatz, with us now.

Lt Col Beth Salisbury: This is the entrance into our facility in Camp Liberty.

Martha Raddatz: It was just days ago that Lt Col Beth Salisbury showed ABC News the very same combat stress control center where today's horrific shooting took place.

Lt Col Beth Salisbury: They will sign in at our front desk. They'll be greeted by our staff here.

Martha Raddatz: Salisbury, who runs the center, was not hurt but of the dead, two were on her clinical staff and three were soldiers waiting for treatment. The shooter, who officials say is a Sgt on his third deployment to Iraq, went on a rampage down these hallways and offices in one of the few places where those who were attacked would not have been armed.

Lt Col Beth Salisbury: Their weapons are taken for safety and we secure those here for the safety of our staff and themselves.

Martha Raddatz: The Sgt being held for the murders is married and based in Germany. ABC News has learned he had been having problems during his deployment. Initial indications are that he did not seek mental health treatment voluntarily but that his unit had referred him for care. It is unclear whether he had yet received treatment. Col Salisbury said recently soldiers are encouraged to look for signs of stress in others.

Lt Col Beth Salisbury: The great thing is to have a leader bring in a soldier, come in -- leadership staff -- come in and ask us how that we can help them take care of their soldiers.

Martha Raddatz: These centers are part of the response to a dramatic spike in army suicides a record 143 in the last year. Today the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the shooting will be investigated to see if the stress of multiple and frequent deployments contributed to it.

Adm Mike Mullen: It speaks to the issue of--of multiple deployments, you know , increasing dwell time, all those things that we're focused on to try to improve to relieve that stress.

Martha Raddatz: It can't be understated what a terrible blow to any unit this is when soldiers are killed by fellow soldiers, especially soldiers who were trying to help others. Charlie?

At which point Martha Raddatz and Gibson discussed Afghanistan. CBS Evening News came in second place (click here for video of the story). They offered video animation of the shooting -- strange since no witness from the shooting had yet done a diagram for the US military. They also had so little that Martin tried to bring in Afghanistan, intense speculation and pretty much toss every thing at the screen hoping something would stick.

David Martin: It happened at Camp Liberty near the Baghdad airport. An American soldier walked into a combat stress center a place where military men and women can go to seek help and opened fire, killing five of his fellow soldiers before he was subdued. It's not the first case in this war of a soldier turning his weapon on his own but it is the worst.

US Sec of Defense Robert Gates: Such a tragic loss of life at the hands of our own forces is a cause for great and urgent concern.

David Martin: The stress center had been set up for the express purpose of dealing with the explosion of mental problems caused by the repeated deployments and close-quarters combat of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to initial reports, the shooter, an Army Sgt, had gone there looking for help, got into an argument, left in such an agitated state that his weapon was taken away from him but managed to get another one, came back and gunned down the workers at the center.

Adm Mike Mullen: It does speak to me about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern -- in terms of dealing with the stress.

David Martin: According to most recent figures, 300,000 service men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have reported a mental health problem.

Martin continued down that road before suddenly appearing to have a realization: "This was not suicide of course, but murder." Yes, it was. "We don't know the motive," he added. No, you don't.

Third place was The NewsHour (click here for audio).

Jim Lehrer: In other news today, an American soldier in Iraq turned his gun on five of his own comrades and killed them before being subdued. It happened outside a counseling center near Baghdad International Airport. Troops go there for help with combat stress or other personal issues. Officials had no word on what sparked the shooting. A spokesman for President Obama called it a terrible tragedy.

Last was NBC Nightly News. Last? Did they just do a headline? No, they did worse than just a headline. (Click here for video page.) They offered a pompous and untrained anchor who wants to look down on the audience and pretend he's in the military. Brian, you never served in the military. If you regret that, resign as anchor and enlist. There is still time. Otherwise spare us about "folks here" and "temple of battle" and your other garbage. In fact, grow the hell up. You shouldn't have been made anchor but you were. Try being a journalist. But that would require conducting yourself like one which would require that you stop inviting on air known propagandists:

Brian Williams: US military investigators say a soldier at Camp Liberty in Iraq walked into a clinic for treating combat stress and killed five of his fellow soldiers in what is believed to be the worst case of non-combat deaths for US forces since the war started. With more on this tonight, we are joined by retired US army Col Jack Jacobs a recipient of the Medal of Honor and an NBC News military analyst. Jack, you and I were saying earlier, a lot of the folks here forget that we're on a base here so everyone has a weapon, that steps it up a bit. But how do you prevent a senseless murder anymore than you would in civilian life?

Jack Jacobs: Well you can't actually and the military establishment's done a lot to ensure that they keep eyes on people who are not doing well there are support systems back in the States for them and their families when they return and also support systems in country uh just like this stress clinic. Uh troops are told to keep an eye out for those who are not doing well to report them uh to the chain of command so that they can be helped and this just one that - that didn't make it.

Brian Williams: And you have a theory, quickly, about people being in the temple of battle being less susceptible to this perhaps.

Jack Jacobs: Yeah I think so. When you're focused on making sure that you and your fellow soldiers stay alive, when people are trying very hard to kill you, when you're trying to accomplish the mission, you're all together as a unit and you watch out for each other. And it's at times when you have lots of free time on your hands, if you're on a base like this, nobody's watching you, those are the times when the stress of repeated deployments and other kinds of things get to you and uh nobody's keeping an eye on you and this may be what happened here.

Uh, Jack, uh, sounds uh like garbage uh. Sounds like you're SPINNING and you're COVERING and you're trying to float something to get out ahead of the story. But then Jack Jacobs is PAID TO SPIN. From Salon, April 21, 2009:

For some added irony: on his NBS News broadcast last night suppressing any mention of David Barstow's Pulitzer Prize, Brian Williams' lead story concerned Obama's trip to the CIA yesterday. Featured in that story was commentary from Col. Jack Jacobs, identified on-screen this way: "Retired, NBC News Military Analyst." Jacobs was one of the retired officers who was an active member of the Pentagon's "military analyst" program, and indeed, he actively helped plan the Pentagon's media strategy at the very same time he was posing as an "independent analyst" on NBC (h/t reader gc; via NEXIS). So not only did Williams last night conceal from his viewers any mention of the Pentagon program, he featured -- on the very same broadcast -- "independent" commentary from one of the central figures involved in that propaganda program.

For more, read David Barstow's Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times coverage of the propaganda mill click here and here. SourceWatch offers a list of those 'retired' military officials who shill:

From the New York Times story and associated documents, along with other sources as indicated: [1][17]

In addition, Wesley Clark is named in the Pentagon pundit documents, as a Fox News analyst, who's against the war in Iraq and in favor of dialog with Iran. [23]. He also appears in a picture accompanying Barstow's Times article on the program, but is not mentioned in the text. [1] Clark is also mentioned in the documents as a potential person to invite to take part in the propaganda effort. [24] Clark has "claimed publicly that after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, he was pressured by the Bush administration to link the attacks directly to Iraq. When pressed on Fox News' Hannity & Colmes show, Clark refused to name White House names and instead fingered a public policy think tank in Canada. 'I personally got a call from a fellow in Canada who is part of a Middle Eastern think tank who gets inside intelligence information. He called me on 9/11,' Clark said. When asked who in the White House contacted him, Clark responded that he was 'not going to go into those sources.'" [25]

We noted print yesterday. Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) notes:

In coming weeks, a military court is expected to decide whether to court-martial Sgt. Joseph C. Bozicevich of the 3rd Infantry Division on charges of shooting to death his superior and another soldier in September during a discussion of his supposedly poor performance at a patrol base south of Baghdad. In April 2005, Sgt. Hasan Akbar of the 101st Airborne was sentenced to death for a 2003 grenade attack on fellow soldiers at a U.S. base in Kuwait on the eve of the war.

Timothy Williams (New York Times) improves his original reporting yesterday as the story was breaking chiefly by dropping Robert Gibbs from his story and quoting instead from Barack Obama's own statement. We'll note Barack's statement in full (it's a partial quote in the Times):

I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news from Camp Victory this morning, and my heart goes out to the families and friends of all the service members involved in this horrible tragedy. I will press to ensure that we fully understand what led to this tragedy, and that we are doing everything we can to ensure that our men and women in uniform are protected as they serve our country so capably and courageously in harm’s way. To begin this process, I met with Secretary Gates this afternoon to get a briefing on the situation.

As noted earlier, Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) is reporting online this morning that Sgt John M. Russell was the shooter:

The military did not shed light on what his motive might have been. Russell had been referred to counseling by his chain of command, Perkins said, and days prior to the incident, his supervisors took away his weapon. It is not clear how he obtained the weapon allegedly used in the attack, Perkins said.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.

the washington post
ernesto londono
abc world news tonight
martha raddatz

timothy williams
the new york times
the los angeles times
liz sly