Wednesday, November 25, 2009
It has saddened me to watch the demise of the once wonderful CNN. Their coverage of hot spots around the world after their inception and through the mid-1990s was exceptional (granted, I was a young lad during this time). But it has been a downward slide in quality and utility for the once-mighty giant of cable news since then.
Case in point: Killings at the Canal. I'm guessing a few of you have seen this, or at least part of their "coverage." The basic story is that three sergeants shot and killed four Iraqi detainees in 2007 (by a canal! - it's important to get the alliteration or no one will watch!) because they claimed that the four were killing Coalition Forces but that U.S. detention policy at the time would have let these four alleged insurgents back onto the streets within days.
No, seriously. These guys shot four detainees because they were sure that the nefarious detention policy would have protected the bad guys. They actually said this in court and still believe it to this day (given some of the stuff on the linked site). They actually said they killed these four Iraqis, but, hold on Your Honor, we had a reason. No, I'm not making this up, go read it. I couldn't make this up.
Some of the statements or quotes from these guys are just factually wrong with regard to the nuts and bolts of the "policy" in question. I use quotes because it's not policy, it's law - the host nation's laws as well as U.S. law. Well, I guess these four Iraqis could have shot at soldiers the next day as the former sergeants allege. What's the rule of law when your boys' lives are at stake? To these guys, the rule of law was optional.
Forget COIN and "hearts and minds" - this goes beyond that. This is about U.S. soldiers who murdered detainees because they thought they were insurgents and didn't want to be bothered with the law. I should comment that I'm not saying these four Iraqis were or weren't insurgents who had killed or planned to kill American soldiers. I'm saying it is irrelevant here because the sergeants' actions subverted due process - something that we treasure here in the U.S. and must uphold when overseas. Otherwise, we're just as bad as Saddam was.
So back to CNN. Why on earth did they cover this so extensively? It was four murders out of many in the world on any given day. So what? The tone obviously takes the side of the former sergeants, which I find appalling, probably to incite discussion on this topic. And lord knows why because it seems pretty clear to me: uphold the law. I remember something about that in some oath I took at some point..... Anyway, I don't know if they are just trying to appear as patriotic as their rivals or they just think the incarceration of murderers who happen to be soldiers is bad policy. But it doesn't matter. They would jump all over any other country who let their soldiers do this. They should have just reported it and if they were going to err on the side of bias, it should have been towards the U.S. military for trying and convicting these murderers in spite of the bad press it would (and did) cause.