Three former American soldiers who served in Iraq are going public about the realities of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they claim routine acts of excessive violence upon local citizens stem from the U.S. chain of command. Former Army Specialists Josh Stieber, Ray Corcoles and Ethan McCord say that they thought they were going to Iraq to help the Iraqi people and advance freedom and democracy.
The fallout from Michael Hastings' inflammatory article in Rolling Stone about General Stanley McChrystal continues as journalists debate the appropriateness of Hastings' reporting.
Glen Greenwald of Salon.com reports that Americans are being fed false and misleading "news" about the U.S. war in Afghanistan because major American media outlets, like the New York Times and CNN, publish propagandized Pentagon accounts of the violence and killing occurring there, without questioning the information they are fed.
An egregious example of this occurred on February 12, 2010, when NATO's joint international force issued a press release that bore the headline Joint Force Operating In Gardez Makes Gruesome Discovery. The release said that after "intelligence confirmed militant activity" in a compound near a village in Paktiya province, an international security force entered the compound and engaged "several insurgents" in a fire fight. Two "insurgents" were killed, the report said, and after the joint forces entered the compound, they "found the bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed."
But an Afghan news report about the same incident differed wildly.
The U.S. media told the public for weeks that a big, offensive battle was taking place in Marja, in Afghanistan, a "city of 80,000 people" in Helmand province which was also the logistical hub of the Taliban. The description gave the impression that the U.S. presence in Marja was a major strategic objective, and that the city was more important than other district centers in the province.
The private military contractor Blackwater -- which rebranded itself as "Xe" in February, 2009 to distance itself from negative incidents like the September, 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that killed at least a dozen people -- has created a shell company called "Paravant" to try and keep winning lucrative government military contracts.
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently released updated figures for the number of civilian contractors killed in American war zones since September 1, 2001. A minimum of 1,688 civilians have died, and there have been over 37,000 injuries reported among people working for U.S. contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan -- but the DOL acknowledges that the report is incomplete.
General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. military and NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants to change strategic communications goals there from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence'" in their government and their future. He also wants to focus on exposing insurgents' "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran," which is already a talking point for U.S.