War is hell.
Those of us who have not served on the battlefield will never know that changes
that happen in the minds of soldiers on the battlefield. The below New
York Times article gives a harrowing glimmer of the lives of those living
in the world of war. Many years ago, the highly decorated General Smedley
Butler of the US Marines wrote an incredibly revealing essay entitled War
is a Racket. Only after retiring from 33 years of honorable service did
General Butler become aware of the extent to which the power elite manipulate
the government and public into supporting wars for their own benefit. Don't
miss our concise summary of General Butler's timeless essay at http://www.WantToKnow.info/warcoverup
Fred Burks for WantToKnow.info
the Censor's Veil on the Shame of Iraq
by Bob Herbert
May 5, 2005
"Nobody wants to come forward about this," said Aidan Delgado. "I
didn't want to come forward about this."
the distinctive things about the war in Iraq is the extraordinary proliferation
of photos taken by G.I.'s that document the extreme horrors of warfare and,
in many instances, the degrading treatment of Iraqi civilians by American
When Mr. Delgado returned to Florida last year from a tour of Iraq that included
a traumatic stint with a military police unit at Abu Ghraib prison, he thought
he could pretty easily resume the ordinary life of a college student and leave
his troubling war experiences behind.
But people kept asking him about Iraq. And he had many photos, some of them
extremely difficult to look at, that were permanent reminders of events that
are likely to stay with him for a lifetime.
pictures of children who were wounded and barely clinging to life, and some
who appeared to be dead. There was a close-up of a soldier who was holding
someone's severed leg. There were photos of Iraqis with the deathlike stare
of shock, stunned by the fact that something previously unimaginable had just
happened to them. There were photos of G.I.'s happily posing with the bodies
of dead Iraqis.
what happens in war. It's the sickening reality that is seldom seen in the
censored, sanitized version of the conflict that Americans typically get from
the government and the media.
Americans' attitude toward war in general and this war in particular would
change drastically if the censor's veil were lifted and the public got a sustained,
close look at the agonizing bloodshed and other horrors that continue unabated
in Iraq. If that happened, support for any war that wasn't an absolute necessity
Mr. Delgado, 23, is a former Army reservist who was repelled by the violence
and dehumanization of the war. He completed his tour in Iraq. But he sought
and received conscientious objector status and was honorably discharged last
the most disturbing photos in his possession were taken after G.I.'s at Abu
Ghraib opened fire on detainees who had been throwing rocks at guards during
a large protest. Four detainees were killed. The photos show American soldiers
posing and goofing around with the bodies of the detainees.
shot a body bag has been opened to show the gruesome head wound of the corpse.
In another, a G.I. is leaning over the top of the body bag with a spoon in
his right hand, as if he is about to scoop up a portion of the dead man's
pictures were circulated like trophies," Mr. Delgado said.
posted in command headquarters. He said it seemed to him that the shooting
of the prisoners and the circulation of the photos were viewed by enlisted
personnel and at least some officers as acceptable - even admirable - behavior.
Mr. Delgado said that when his unit was first assigned to Abu Ghraib, he
believed, like most of his fellow soldiers, that the prisoners were among
the most dangerous individuals in Iraq.
He said: "Most of the guys thought, 'Well, they're out to kill us. These
are the ones killing our buddies.' "
at work in a headquarters office, he said, he learned that most of the detainees
at Abu Ghraib had committed only very minor nonviolent offenses, or no offenses
at all. (Several investigations would subsequently reveal that vast numbers
of completely innocent Iraqis were seized and detained by coalition forces.)
Several months ago Mr. Delgado gave a talk and presented a slide show at
his school, New College of Florida in Sarasota. To his amazement, 400 people
showed up. He has given a number of talks since then in various parts of the
he said, is to convince his listeners that the abuse of innocent Iraqis by
the American military is not limited to "a few bad apples," as the
military would like the public to believe. "At what point," he asked,
"does a series of 'isolated incidents' become a pattern of intolerable
The public at large and especially the many soldiers who have behaved honorably
in Iraq deserve an honest answer to that question. It took many long years
for the military to repair its reputation after Vietnam. Mr. Delgado's complaints
and the entire conduct of this wretched war should be thoroughly investigated.