Just another example of the unbiased, high quality reporting about the Iraq War and the US military from ARD's Panorama, a highly influential investigative journalism program on a major German public television station that reaches an audience of millions. (VIDEO/TRANSLATION BELOW - the translation reflects the German narration):
Convicts to the Front – The last gasp of the Americans in Iraq
Anchorwoman: Anja Reschke:
"He wants to go to Iraq. Of all places Iraq. Just a report from this afternoon: A rocket attack in Baghdad killed 46 people and injured 113. No one will be shaken by these reports anymore, somehow one has given up on Iraq deep down. The American soldiers appear to be fighting for a lost cause. The US Army has serious problems recruiting new men. In the meantime it is even sending convicts to war. And the results of that are documented by John Goetz, Christiane Justus and Volker Steinhoff.”
(Video start) Steven Green, until recently a soldier in Iraq. According to the record, a murderer and rapist. A crime that could have been foreseen. Spring 2006, Green is assigned to a road block in Mahmudijah, Iraq. A suicide mission. Nearly daily attacks, every week a comrade dies. Then unending boredom. Cynicism quickly spreads. Perverse plans are hatched. On March 12, Green and four comrades begin the day with a couple golf balls and a first whiskey. What happens then sounds unimaginable, but is proven by recorded testimony from witnesses in the investigation that have been made available to journalists.
Sarah Childress, Newsweek: “They drank Iraqi whiskey mixed with an energy drink. At some point during the day Green said that he would really like to kill a couple Iraqis.”
Green and the others went in this house. They already knew the Iraqi family here: They had already set their eyes on one of the daughters.
Sarah Childress, Newsweek: “Steven Green forced the mother, father and the five year-old daughter into the bedroom. The other soldiers then heard shots from outside. Green came out and said: ‘I just killed them, all are dead!”
As that was happening, his comrades began to molest the second daughter, who was still alive. Then Green raped the 14 year old girl.
Sarah Childress, Newsweek: “Steven Green also shot her. One of his comrades even molested her after that, even though she was already dead. At the end Green dumped kerosene on the body and burned it.”
Shortly thereafter they had a barbeque: Chicken wings – fried chicken. The five soldiers clearly had no fear of punishment. Iraqi neighbors reported Green’s deed to the US Army – nothing happened. In the following weeks, Iraqi terrorists begin vigilante justice and murder two members of Green’s unit. Now a soldier is coming clean – two months after the deed. Only now are Green and the others being tried. A deed that was foreseeable in the eyes of experts.
Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch: “When you put a bunch of 18 year old boys with weapons into this situation where they are attacked nearly daily, where every Iraqi hates them, and when you also know that about 15 percent of them have a criminal past – then that means that you are almost intentionally asking for such deeds to happen.”
Already as a student, Green was known for random bouts of violence.
Sarah Childress, Newsweek: “He was very angry, often beat up his classmates just because they had on a shirt that he didn’t like or because they used a white lighter that he couldn’t stand. Any excuse was good enough for him to act on his anger.
Green dropped out of school, shortly thereafter he was locked-up for the first time. Actually, he shouldn’t have even been able to sign up with the US military as a convict. But the Army is running short on troops in Iraq, now criminals are also allowed to take up a rifle.
Paul K. Van Riper, retired US Lieutenant General: “Whenever you lower standards, whether moral or physical, you provoke these problems.”
William E. Odom, retired US General: “Clearly: The pressure to recruit new soldiers is high and the standards are dropping. And so many people enter the Army who it would be better not to allow in.”
For example Green. Barely in Iraq, he openly declared: ‘To kill a person is like crushing an ant.’ A military reporter meets him in this time.
Andrew Tilghman, military reporter: “When I met Steven Green, he spoke very openly of killing. He had come here to kill people, he had done it before, and it was nothing special to him. I found that quite normal at the time in Iraq based on the situation, because the soldiers all spoke that way.”
Green and his people live under miserable conditions. Often they could not shower for four weeks. And: They are stationed in the most dangerous part of Iraq.
Andrew Tilghman, military reporter: “He told of how he had once shot a driver of an automobile because he wouldn’t stop: ‘Not worth mentioning,’ he said, it’s like going out for pizza.
Marc Garlasco, Human Rights Watch: “The US military has come to a breaking point. At the moment the soldiers are two, three or even four years in Iraq with no vacation home. They are completely burned out, a difficult situation. Of course they are responsible for their own mistakes, but you also have to look at the decisions of the politicians: They simply did not have enough soldiers to get the situation under control, and they therefore refrain from training and breaks.”
Burned out troops, convict recruits, horrific massacres – the cycle of violence continues.
Paul K. Van Riper, retired US Lieutenant General: “We have here what one would call a fiasco, or perhaps better the beginning of a disaster in Iraq. But until now no one has had to take responsibility.”
William E. Odom, retired US General: “The war is going badly. It is getting worse every week. And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more catastrophic it will get. There is only one solution to avoid a massive defeat: Retreat, run away as fast as you can.”
Now the last contingent is fighting. Green is a killer. Four others went along.
Report: T. Berndt, J. Goetz, C. Justus, V. Steinhoff
This is how members of the United States military are presented to the German public in the German media: As criminals, murderers and sadistic torturers. The most extreme, vile, perverted image of the US military is presented to Germans and the US military is portrayed as so desperate and broken that it has come to rely on convicts and Soviet-style Shtrafbat personnel. The fact that the vast majority of those serving in the American military are decent and honorable people has been completely lost in a media environment that resembles a propaganda mill more than a provider of objective truth. It is entirely fair to label this sort of report propaganda because alternative viewpoints on Iraq and the US military are conspicuously absent as are positive images of the vast majority of US soldiers.
And this is a critical point: Two of the reporters responsible for this report are Volker Steinhoff and John Goetz. Steinhoff and Goetz also teamed up for this horrific piece of slanderous propaganda aimed at the US military on which we reported last year. The music and format are remarkably similar. It seems that both Steinhoff and Goetz are certified experts when it comes to producing one-sided, anti-American hate propaganda. These two "journalists" have done more to poison German-American relations than most people could ever hope to. It is high time that America’s representatives in Germany made a formal stink with the German government about Mr. Steinhoff and Mr. Goetz and their “work.” Panorama is, after all, aired on and sponsored by ARD, a major state-run public television station that reaches an audience of millions. If Germany’s government is going to sponsor and air this kind of "journalism," then the US Embassy ought to at least stand up and formally protest.
Note: Panorama's editors can be reached at: email@example.com.
Here is how Panorama summarized the report on it's web site:
Ex-convicts in front line duty - The Americans’ last contingent in Iraq
Iraq seldom shows up on front pages any more; the world has turned away. But Iraq hasn't quieted down. Every day there are new terror victims. But there are also a growing number of gruesome assaults by American Soldiers on the population. Meanwhile a disastrous dynamic has set in: The US army is short on personnel. So they’re arming ex-convicts too. Like soldier Steven Green. On March 12 he became a rapist and four count murderer according to court records. Green and his unit raped a 14 year old after which they murdered the girl and her family. After that they ate chicken wings and played cards. With the end of hope for still winning the war, ethical standards are obviously vanishing too. The army is running out of soldiers in Iraq . Now criminals can also be armed. (Translation by Richard Bartholomew)
And no, the Panorama report is not from the office of Joseph Goebbels, though he made similar observations in 1943: "A report on interrogations of American prisoners is really gruesome. These American boys are human material that can in no way stand in comparison with our people. One has the impression of dealing with a herd of savages."
The Panorama report is anti-Americanism courtesy German public tv in 2006. Any resemblance with Germany's past is entirely coincidental.
Update: Commenter Helian has his say.
Endnote: Again, our translation reflects the German narration offered by Panorama. The Panorama narration at points clearly does not accurately reflect what the individuals interviewed actually said. For example, Marc Garlasco states that, in his opinion, the troops have not received adequate training and time off. Panorama omits the word "adequate," dramatically changing the meaning of the translated sentence. (Translation by Ray D and Richard Bartholomew., article by David and Ray) Note on our translation: Richard translates "Vorbestrafter" as "ex-convict" in the sense that the individual is no longer physically incarcerated while Ray interprets the word as "convict" in the sense that the individual had been previously convicted of a felony.