(By Ray D.)
It has happened before: Members of the German media have tried and convicted American soldiers of alleged war crimes before they ever go to trial. The latest case involves an article featured on the homepage of ARD tagesschau, a large, state-sponsored news program:
The headline above speaks of a "massacre" even though it has not been conclusively determined that the killings were part of an actual massacre. Additionally, the lead paragraph claims that the 24 civilians involved were "murdered." Certainly, if an investigation and trial determine that the soldiers in question are, in fact, guilty of murder and participation in a massacre, they should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. But the bottom line is that the German media has no right to conclusively label the killings murders (and thus imply that the soldiers are murderers) until all the facts are known and until said soldiers are found guilty and convicted.
The fact that other media outlets, including ZDF and the BBC, have chosen their words more carefully further highlights ARD's blatant bias and lack of professionalism. Just compare this ZDF piece to the ARD piece. You will notice that ZDF has a question mark after the word "massacre" and reports that the soldiers allegedly killed the 24 civilians in an act of revenge and that they may well stand trial for murder. In other words, ARD immediately jumped to the conclusion that the soldiers are murderers, ZDF did not.
Ironically, the same ARD journalists who can't seem to stop screaming about the denial of judicial due process to Guantanamo inmates are not even willing to afford the same privilege to American soldiers, despite the fact that American soldiers stood guard for decades and guaranteed their freedom of speech during the Cold War. In the ARD world, Guantanamo terrorists are innocent until proven guilty, American soldiers guilty until proven innocent. The agenda of ARD and many on the Angry Left in dealing with the alleged massacre is best summarized in the following passage by John Gibson:
"It was last November and according to the story that is now shaping up, Marines went on a rampage after one of their own was killed by a roadside bomb. In the end, it appears they killed 24 people, including women and children.
The original story of the incident said the civilians were also killed by the roadside bomb that killed the Marine. That appears to be not true and the military is running a full-scale investigation. If it turns out to be not true, then the crime is doubled: first the massacre, then the cover-up.
I'm against massacres of civilians — I think we all are. I'm against cover-ups — you probably are too.
But I'm also against taking an incident in which our troops overreact and commit an arguably criminal act and making it stand for the entire war. The war in Iraq is not the story of massacres by Americans. If Iraqis know their own history they know this is true. Massacres have been committed in Iraq by warring parties for millennia piled on millennia. This is the part of the world that was in on the massacre game early, played it often and the last character to be up to his eyeballs in massacres was the very guy we went in to regime change: Saddam Hussein himself.
Those people who oppose the war and want to make those who supported it pay with shame, embarrassment and a complete loss of credibility and reputation, want desperately for this massacre — if it turns out to be what happened — to be the name this war is known by forever. Haditha — My Lai — Iraq — Vietnam: it all fits together neatly in a slime fest designed to win elections and set the direction of the history books.
The Iraq War may not be the best war we ever fought. When the dust settles we'll know for sure. But it accomplished a great goal that no one else had managed for the last 15 years at least: ridding the world of Saddam. No matter what the political spinners say, that was a great thing. And the Iraq War should be known for that fact — Saddam is gone — not for one incident of alleged revenge killing in a place called Haditha." (emphasis ours)
That is exactly what this is about for ARD, SPIEGEL ONLINE, Stern, SZ and other members of the anti-American German media establishment. This is about shaming the United States of America and those who supported the war, regardless of the facts, right or wrong. This is about seizing the moral high ground, pure and simple. The killing of two dozen Iraqi civilians suddenly matters to the German media elite. Why? Because it has the potential to discredit the United States, Bush and supporters of the war. Conversely, the same media cynics stood by and largely ignored the mass murder of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians during the Hussein regime. Today they stand by and ignore the fact that their own government continues to promote trade with a government guilty of an ongoing campaign of mass murder in Sudan.
Finally, to top it all off, Germany's media cynics continue to blatantly mislead the German people by insinuating that the American media is somehow in bed with the Bush administration and only presenting a heroic view of the war that ignores the suffering. The most recent examples come from correspondents Udo Lielischkies of ARD in Washington (who claims the US media is only presenting a one-sided, heroic view of the war) and Sebastian Heinzel of SPIEGEL ONLINE in New York (who claims that almost nothing in American society or media exists to remind people of the war). Apparently these "journalists" just haven't seen the daily television news or read many newspapers while in the United States. They must have missed the thousands and thousands of articles and televised news features on bombings, beheadings, killings and kidnappings in Iraq run day for day for day in the US media with no positive story in sight. They must have missed all of Michael Moore's books and films, (quite an accomplishment for a German!) They must have missed Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal and Cindy Sheehan and Air America. They must have missed George Clooney's Syriana. They must have missed the recent parade of retired generals calling for Don Rumsfeld's head. They must have missed John Murtha and Cobra II. They must have missed the daily casualty count on CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC and every other significant news network in the United States.
Simply put: The "journalists" in question must be blind, deaf and dumb. Or they must be lying our their asses to the German people. We strongly suspect it's the latter...
UPDATE #2: Below is ARD's confusing new homepage summary of its latest Haditha piece. The headline calls the Haditha incident a "massacre" while the introductory paragraph that follows speaks of an "alleged massacre." So which is it at this point? As a reader, you really wouldn't know by looking at tagesschau online.
Unfortunately, ARD continues to call the 24 killings "murder." Again, whether it was murder or not ought to be determined by the appropriate legal and investigative authorities, not by the mainstream media or anyone else.
UPDATE #3: American troops are also guilty until proven innocent at SPIEGEL ONLINE. The Haditha incident has given SPON and other members of the Angry Left a new excuse to make further brain-dead comparisons to Vietnam.
UPDATE #4: Now members of the German media are referring to wide segments of the US military as "White Trash." Where does this end...?