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CENTCOM releases documents on Death of Reuters Journalists (centcom.mil)
19 points by ismarc 2512 days ago | hide | past | web | 20 comments | favorite

I've tried very hard to stay out of the discussions, and someone pointed this out to me. It's a good read (sworn statements and determinations made by investigating officers) to understand the full situation (ie, everything going on outside of the one camera and radio chatter) and the judgement calls made.

Sworn statements are true in the eyes of the person making them, they are not necessarily objective truth.

It's like in most other cases like this, if you cover it up you're seriously suggesting you've got something to hide and that will take on momentum by itself.

The headlines the world over are roughly translated 'Americans murder innocent civilians'. If they had released this on their own initiative they could have controlled it much better, now it is too late for that.

It's interesting how some of the most balanced reporting on this comes from sites like Al Jazeera:


"It's interesting how some of the most balanced reporting on this comes from sites like Al Jazeera"

If you're surprised by that, it means you don't know much about AJ and don't watch it. Currently they have the only decent journalism, along with BBC, which most of their AJ English journalists come from. The rest of popular news channels is TMZ-class compared to them.

The fact that I referenced it here means that I most likely watched it (and read it).

I take my news from many different sources in 5 languages, it is strange (but educational) to see the same event through the lens of several different cultures, it also gives you a good sense of what the local bias is.

But what surprises me, and which is why I mentioned it, is that Al Jazeera is more balanced than either the BBC or the Dutch or German news services, and that's a first (for me).

If so, sorry that I implied that.

Sad is, that we have to switch between various news services, often depending on their 'point of view'. Good journalism is good coverage and following discussion, not giving answers; but that's utopia.

I think that it has become impossible to release 'news' simply as facts without coloration. Even if you look at a simple thing like a one vehicle accident there are usually several variations of it as re-told by the various witnesses, getting to the bottom of the objective truth is a real exercise in human psychology. We all have this, even the best trained reporter.

There is a science fiction book which tells about 'professional witnesses', people that are trained to observe and report only what they observe.

One example given is a house, and the 'simple' person responds the house is white, but the professional witness reports the side of the house they can see is white.

It's a subtle difference, but it shows the world of assumptions underlying our observations, we all do this to some extent. By interrogating multiple sources and selecting what they agree on you can get to some basis of truth, and you can select items that are likely to be bias.

Maybe there is a need for a news 'meta service' that scans the 'regular news' for reports and does as good a job of removing the bias as possible.

This would be interesting, because I think it would make the news extremely boring, plenty of the 'bias' is what gets people excited about the news, facts are 'dry' and not very interesting.

Yeah, I know what you mean.

What I am criticizing here, is that many contemporary journalists in mainstream media focus too much on giving simple answers and hot headlines instead of seeking evidence. From the few news services I have watched, I found AJ to be offering the most comprehensive analysis of reported subjects. That's why I found strange that you were surprised by their balanced reporting.

For the longest time, when it came to the Iraq war there were several Western European news sources that I think held the 'moral high ground' in how they reported the news. Al Jazeera was good, but definitely coloured. Now I find that Al Jazeera is actually much better than 'our' sources, and this article is the first time I've ever had that feeling.

Normally they're good but not 'great'. In this article, which for their audience must be very inflammable material they actually take the time and point out the caveats much more clearly than some of the 'local' news sources in NL, the UK and in France.

There is plenty of stuff here that needs investigating and Al Jazeera does an amazing job of outlining the potential pitfalls in interpreting the video and the 'untold' side of the American military.

I really think that by doing that they deserve to be taken much more serious by people from 'the west', but for some reason the majority here seems to be stuck on what can be had in a basic cable subscription and preferably locally produced.

There is a world of information available to all of us but sifting through it is a lot of work, especially if a subject is politically sensitive.

It's worth noting that Al-Jazeera has improved a lot since its early days in 2002/2003. With the launch of their English news service they made a concerted effort to improve their act and become more impartial. They're still prone to inflammatory coverage, especially on their Arabic news service, but as I said it's a huge improvement over what they were before.

Unfortunately many people, both pro and anti-war, are still operating on the perceptions shaped by events seven years ago and they haven't noticed how much things have changed.

You mean the early days of the war. Al Jazeera has been around a lot longer than that, 1996 or 1997 iirc.

They gained real notoriety in 2001 because of their covering of 'dancing Palestinians' after the 9/11 attack but they were operational long before that.

Yes, sorry. I actually meant the early days of its wider (and particularly Western) prominence, when most of the people who frequent HN would have first heard of and formed opinions about it. I had admittedly forgotten about the Palestinians and 9/11 coverage though.

Russia Today (live video feed: http://rt.com/On_Air.html ) and France24 (live feed on the site: http://www.france24.com/fr/ ) also do a credible job. RT is a bit suspect when it comes to Russian govt. issues however.

Actually, since these are the only guys to have live feeds online, they've become my mainstays for news. The BBC nowadays is just plain annoying with their gratingly slow byte-sized news clips full of ads.

>RT is a bit suspect when it comes to Russian govt. issues however

Ha, that's certainly understating the issue. I followed their reporting of the war with Chechnya and it was often war-goading propaganda. They're good if Russia has no national stake in a news item, but Orwellian otherwise.

If you're surprised by that, it means you don't know much about AJ and don't watch it.

It's hard to believe because the American media feeds us the idea that Arabs are some inferior race out to kill us all. So obviously their media outlets are just publishing propaganda designed to further that cause by taking down the American infidels from the inside. Or something.

But of course, it's our news sources that are the real propaganda spewers. "Fair and balanced" indeed.

Yeah, their public image is often mistaken by their geographical origins, not only in the US. Second thing is that they report and discuss complicated topics in a way you don't find on CNN and other media. If someone is used to the mainstream style of news 'at a glance' and with ready made answers, it'll probably be too hard to watch a half-hour documentary or a live discussion between conflict representatives.

I agree completely, especially with regards to the sworn statements. Everyone involved was making decisions based on what they perceived, with the goal being a common consensus of the appropriate action. The investigation had a couple of inconsistencies between reports, but all very minor, and obviously not a "get our story straight" style of massive cover-up people would like to believe. Unfortunately, the time to release the documents to be believed was when Reuter's first filed the FOIA request for the video and documents they were shown. However, on an only mildly related note, I'm disappointed that the video is being so widely distributed with few warnings/protections around the brutality of what is contained.

> I'm disappointed that the video is being so widely distributed with few warnings/protections around the brutality of what is contained.

I think that's because people are totally de-sensitized as to viewing violence. The only difference between this video and some games and a whole pile of movies is that it is real.

Not sure what people expect when watching a video which is titled "Collateral Murder". I at least would espect a video showing the killing of several people.

Those soldiers, even after seeing the video, seem to remain convinced the people in the van were gathering weapons. Weird.

If you just look at the photos PDF and compare the photos to the actual footage, you see two things. The photos actually provide a very clear shot of the Reuters journalist behind the corner (much better than the video, I thought), though his crouching is interpreted as "demonstrating hostile action". Interesting spin, though the point is moot, as no one could have made that out as clearly as that from the helicopter.

More importantly, the labeling is inconsistent. They mislabel the opening shots of the group walking towards the corner as "armed AIF with RPG", at the last shot the same person is an "armed AIF". It's the guy with the AK in hand. Even the pilots recognized him as having 'just' a weapon (i.e. AK-47), not an RPG.

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