Too Little, Too Late

In the wake of the release of the WikiLeaks video showing the massacre of civilians in Iraq, two former soldiers from the unit involved have written a letter published at

The two soldiers, Josh Steiber and Ethan McCord, weren’t in the helicopter. Ethan McCord was one of the soldiers that pulled the children from the van. Josh Steiber wasn’t even on the scene.

But, in their own words, they understood what was happening in their unit:

We have been speaking to whoever will listen, telling them that what was shown in the Wikileaks video only begins to depict the suffering we have created. From our own experiences, and the experiences of other veterans we have talked to, we know that the acts depicted in this video are everyday occurrences of this war: this is the nature of how U.S.-led wars are carried out in this region.

This incident occurred in 2007. Three years later, after the April 5, 2010, release of the video, these two former soldiers have penned a letter of contrition and apology.

This is way too little that comes way too late.

Anyone who has been in the military knows that incidents don’t happen in a “bubble”, meaning, those involved would discuss incidents later in camp with other soldiers. The sheer callousness of the helicopter crew shown in the video gives a hint of what would have been back in camp.

“man… we lit ’em up! tried to scurry like f’ing cockroaches!” (hooting, hollering, and high-fives all around)

Ok, that is not an actual quote, but, we can be assured that given the callousness of the audio this would have been the behavior after the incident. And, let’s not forget, this was normal behavior for the unit.

We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to the your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

We have no way to know who these two former soldiers include in the statement that they have talked to “whoever will listen”, nor, whether or not these soldiers were speaking out before the release of the video. We know that there were no blog entries from them prior to this letter (a google search of their names).

Courage is standing up at the time, not writing a letter three years later after evidence surfaces of how your unit slaughtered civilians. It is refusing to be part of such operations, not telling families that your unit slaughtered how sorry you are three years later. If you don’t have the courage to stand up at the time, you are part of the problem.

This was way too little that came way too late.


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    • Edger on April 20, 2010 at 02:33

    they did explain in their letter that:

    Ethan was on the ground at the scene of the shooting, and is seen on the video rushing one of the injured children to a U.S. Vehicle; “When I saw those kids, all I could picture was my kids back home”. Ethan applied for mental health support following this incident and was denied by his commanding officer.

    Josh Stieber was not at the scene of the shooting…

    Ethan McCord commented this morning at Antemedius:

    The video in context is not a case of soldiers breaking from the system, with the training we received and the situations were placed into, the disturbing scenes and language is inevitable, and not isolated to just this incident. If somebody as high up as the defense secretary says the video shows no wrong doing, then responsibility needs to be demanded for the entire structure, not a few soldiers acting as they were trained.

    And Josh Stieber has done a video interview with RT…

    We’ve all here at DD at least, as well as most of the rest of the left blogosphere, been pushing for years for accountability for the war crime of the Iraq invasion to go all the way to the top.

    Hopefully these two men, although they’ll have to live with whatever they did in Iraq for the rest of their lives and at least aren’t hiding it any longer, in coming out with their letter will help some movement towards that accountability, or at least maybe stop it from happening in the future?

  1. same as it ever was…….

    this is actually pretty tame compared to some of the human barbarity of the past…….

    war is and forever will be human created hell on earth……

    if we are to survive as species we must end all war…..

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