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Friday, March 5, 2010
BIGELOW: HURT LOCKER IS ANTI-WAR
PLUS: ARMOND WHITE (AND OTHER IRAQ/OSCAR-RELATED RANTS)
After months of avoiding any kind of political slant toward the war in Iraq whatsoever in discussing her film The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow told 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl last week that her film is anti-war. Days before the CBS telecast, Bigelow confirmed to The Envelope's Steve Pond that The Hurt Locker is "definitely taking a very specific position" on the Iraq war, and war in general:

Pond: I keep reading about how the movie doesn’t take a political point of view, but it seems clear to me that you have a pretty strong point of view. As you say, it's a hellish situation and we have no business sending our men into it.
Bigelow: Well, that’s certainly my feeling. I’m a child of the ‘60s, and I see war as hell, and a real tragedy, and completely dehumanizing. You know, those are some of the great themes of our time, and we made a real effort to portray the brutality and the futility of this conflict.
 

Pond: So you would say that the movie does indeed take a stance?
Bigelow: I guess my feeling is that graphic portrayals of innocent children killed by bombs, and soldiers incapable of surviving catastrophic explosions … I think that’s pretty clear. And then also, to add to that, the movie opens with a quote, “The rush to battle is often a potent and lethal addiction, for war is a drug.” So it’s definitely taking a very specific position.

Bigelow's description of The Hurt Locker marks a decided contrast from earlier interviews, where she seemed to want to distance her film from works like Brian De Palma's Redacted and Paul Haggis' In The Valley Of Elah (adapted from an article by Hurt Locker screenwriter Mark Boal)-- works that took undeniable stands against the war in Iraq, but were met with indifference at the box office and in the press. Bigelow's confession comes after much acclaim for her film, so perhaps now she feels more confident that being clear about the movie's point of view will not hurt the film's chances for success (especially since it has already played theaters and is already available on DVD). But articles such as FOX News' James Pinkerton's, in which he states that the reason for the Hurt Locker's success over most other Iraq-related films is its "quietly pro-war" stance, are suddenly more complicated. The film will surely continue to be looked at as mostly apolitical, but Bigelow's clear statements may lead viewers to rethink what her movie is trying to say.

IRAQ-RELATED RANTS BY PILGER, WHITE
John Pilger's rant against the Oscars ("Why the Oscars are a Con"), in which he called out filmmakers for being "pimps for a world view devoted to control and destruction," made the rounds a couple of weeks ago. Pilger derides The Hurt Locker as another in a tradition of American war films that glorify psychopaths as heroes:

I only fully understood the power of the con when I was sent to Vietnam as a war reporter. The Vietnamese were “gooks” and “Indians” whose industrial murder was preordained in John Wayne movies and sent back to Hollywood to glamourise or redeem.

I use the word murder advisedly, because what Hollywood does brilliantly is suppress the truth about America’s assaults. These are not wars, but the export of a gun-addicted, homicidal “culture”. And when the notion of psychopaths as heroes wears thin, the bloodbath becomes an “American tragedy” with a soundtrack of pure angst.

Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker is in this tradition. A favourite for multiple Oscars, her film is “better than any documentary I’ve seen on the Iraq war. It’s so real it’s scary” (Paul Chambers CNN). Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian reckons it has “unpretentious clarity” and is “about the long and painful endgame in Iraq” that “says more about the agony and wrong and tragedy of war than all those earnest well-meaning movies”.

What nonsense. Her film offers a vicarious thrill via yet another standard-issue psychopath high on violence in somebody else’s country where the deaths of a million people are consigned to cinematic oblivion. The hype around Bigelow is that she may be the first female director to win an Oscar. How insulting that a woman is celebrated for a typically violent all-male war movie.

Before ranting similar disdain for James Cameron's Avatar, Pilger stops to contrast the fate of De Palma's "admirable" Redacted:

By contrast, the fate of an admirable American war film, Redacted, is instructive. Made in 2007 by Brian De Palma, the film is based on the true story of the gang rape of an Iraqi teenager and the murder of her family by American soldiers. There is no heroism, no purgative. The murderers are murderers, and the complicity of Hollywood and the media in the epic crime in Iraq is described ingeniously by De Palma. The film ends with a series of photographs of Iraqi civilians who were killed. When it was order that their faces be ordered blacked out “for legal reasons”, De Palma said, “I think that’s terrible because now we have not even given the dignity of faces to this suffering people. The great irony about Redacted is that it was redacted.” After a limited release in the US, this fine film all but vanished.

ARMOND: JULIA ROBERTS CAMEO NORMALIZES THE WAR IN IRAQ
Meanwhile, Armond White at the New York Press has made a splash by shouting, "Wake Up and Smell the Oscars: They Stink! (Or why Kathryn Bigelow doesn’t need to win a statue because she’s better than that.)" White rants against the hegemony of Oscar prognostication in the media and film circles at the expense of any discussion of the art involved. White, who had originally written highly of The Hurt Locker, later began to state time and again in his reviews of other films that The Hurt Locker was "now overrated" by others. Recently, he mentioned Bigelow's film in two separate reviews of films released around Valentine's Day. In his review of Lasse Hallstrom's Dear John, White wrote:

Dear John could be The Hurt Locker of romantic movies when Green Beret Staff Sergeant John Tyree (Channing Tatum) loses his stateside girlfriend Savannah (Amanda Seyfried) while serving his country in Iraq. The film has little feeling for military experience, or the sense of patriotic duty that John enunciates during the opening narration: “I am a coin in the United States Army. My edges have been rimmed and beveled. I have two [bullet] holes in me, so I’m no longer in perfect condition."

John’s reference to coins and wounds makes a trenchant metaphor for his humble sense of sacrifice and exploitation. As one young man among millions, he takes a thankless military commission that many civilians presume is ordinary. John represents the type of heroism to which most people pay lip service but little real attention—unless it is politically convenient, like The Hurt Locker passing off action-genre tropes (and fashionable pessimism) as a true response to war. It’s worth appreciating that Dear John is just a different form of similar sentimentality. As in The Hurt Locker, the audience’s war fatigue is what’s exploited.

The civilian scenes where John and Savannah meet, fall in love and attempt to negotiate their future together don’t reference the current political moment except that the war seems far away—unconnected to people’s daily preoccupations. Sappy director Lasse Hallstrom only glancingly identifies John as the type of working-class Southern white boy who joins-up. John’s motivation—isolated from his disabled, uncommunicative father—(Richard Jenkins) isn’t any more serious than Jeremy Renner’s bogus pathology in The Hurt Locker. It’s a sentimental cliché.

A few days later, in his review of Garry Marshall's Valentine's Day, White called Julia Roberts' cameo, in which she "impersonates an Iraq war vet," a "mushy subplot" that was more significant than The Hurt Locker in that it "normalizes the war as a now acceptable—even heartwarming—part of contemporary American experience."


Posted by Geoff at 2:41 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, March 7, 2010 8:08 PM CST
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Tuesday, February 9, 2010
ALL THINGS REDACTED
NEW BOOK EXAMINES TRUE STORY; A.O. SCOTT ON APOLITICAL WAR FILMS, MORE...
A new book out today by TIME magazine's Jim Frederick examines the real life story of the soldiers whose actions inspired the Brian De Palma film Redacted. Frederick's Black Hearts draws on interviews with soldiers from the unit known as "the Black Heart Brigade," with a critical eye toward the leadership, or lack thereof, involved in the soldiers' day-to-day activities. The book, subtitled "One Platoon's Descent Into Madness In Iraq's Triangle Of Death," does not mention De Palma's film. TIME magazine is running two excerpts this week: "The Downward Spiral of Private Steven Green", and "Anatomy of an Iraq War Crime".

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the New York Times' A. O. Scott posted an essay about the apolitical approach to the Iraq and Afghansitan wars taken by Kathryn Bigelow and others. Scott notes the cluster of war films from 2007 that dared to deal with the politics involved:

There have been some exceptions to this rule. Brian De Palma’s “Redacted” and Paul Haggis’s “In the Valley of Elah,” released in fall 2007, questioned the war in Iraq, one in anger and the other in sorrow and both with emphasis on the effects of the fighting on men in the field. Other films from that year, like Robert Redford’s “Lions for Lambs” and Gavin Hood’s “Rendition,” tried to dramatize debates then unfolding in the public sphere about the justice or prudence of American policy. None of these movies were particularly successful, either with audiences or in their earnest, cautious attempts to frame the issues of post-9/11 geopolitics.

It may be that movies, at least as they are currently made and consumed, can’t bridge the gulf between the theater of war and the arena of politics. It is also probably true that the soldiers who are the main characters in fictional and nonfictional war movies don’t talk much about the larger context in which they struggle to survive and get the job done.

BLOGGER CALLS OUT REDACTED FOR PARTNERING WITH MILITARY-INDUSTRIAL PLAYERS
Speaking of the politics involved in Redacted, Screen Addict takes De Palma and company to task for the film's product placement deals:

Amongst the credits – after a montage of gruesome and horrific war images – De Palma and his Producers (clearly unaware of the inherent irony) thank numerous luminaries of the military-industrial complex, including Samsung, Toshiba and Panasonic (all electronics manufacturers who have developed goods for military means, earning shedloads of money in the process).

Most notable among the ‘Product Placement Thanks’ is Nokia, a long-term army supplier across the world and a recent industrial partner of Siemens, a company notorious for their operation of factories which were converted into Nazi concentration camps during the Second World War. More pertinent to the Middle East, however, is a Nokia-Siemens partnership which sparked controversy – albeit since the release of Redacted – for its plans to provide Iran with telecommunication systems that would allow unprecedented monitoring of its already repressed citizens.

All this is not to suggest that films should be made without the assistance of these companies, or that we should somehow boycott every product that has an investment in the military-industrial complex, these are businesses after all, and military is big, big business.

But with Redacted, Brian De Palma (and his Producers) seem to be taking goods and/or money from such organisations on the one hand, and seeming to preach against the interests of these organisations on the other. Call it an act of subversion if you will, but it seems to be just another symptom of the confused creative approach to a frequently confusing war.


Posted by Geoff at 5:25 PM CST
Updated: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 8:46 PM CST
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Friday, January 15, 2010
REDACTED ADVANCED NEOREALIST FORM
VARIETY ARTICLE LOOKS AT POST-BLAIR WITCH DOCUMENTARY TECHNIQUES
A Variety article by Peter DeBruge, posted a couple of days ago, looks at the evolution of documentary techniques, highlighting recent films such as Redacted, District 9, The Hurt Locker, Bruno, and In The Loop, all films that, according to the article, have evolved the docu-form in the wake of the Blair Witch Project. Below is an excerpt led by thoughts from David Bordwell:

Of course, filmmakers didn't wait until 2009 to experiment with documentary techniques. As Bordwell points out, "From World War II on, nearly every country had some sort of neorealist impulse." In America, the crime genre combined docu-style shooting with voice-of-God narration in such late-'40s/early-'50s entries as The Naked City and Panic in the Streets. Later, directors who got their start in documentary, including Stanley Kubrick and William Friedkin, incorporated verite-based techniques in such films as Paths of Glory and The French Connection. "It reaches a culmination in Medium Cool, where you have that immediacy of filming in the Chicago riots," Bordwell adds.

Nearly 40 years later, Brian De Palma advanced the hybrid form with his 2007 Iraq War thriller Redacted, weaving jihadi websites and Al Jazeera-style footage into a tapestry of "found footage" not unlike the elaborate collage of District 9. By comparison, Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker seems downright conservative, even though it marks a radical departure from the director's more classically constructed earlier work. To achieve the immersive effect she wanted, Bigelow turned to cinematographer Barry Ackroyd, whose background in documentaries had served him well with such verite-inclined directors as Ken Loach (Ladybird Ladybird) and Paul Greengrass (United 93).

"The reason she got in touch with me was because of United 93. She wanted that sense of immediacy and urgency," explains the d.p., who coached Bigelow in Greengrass' strategy of shooting long, continuous takes and letting the action move from one camera to the next. While the actors played close to the script, the camera crew was encouraged to improvise and avoid ever repeating the same take. "If in the end, the shot is out of focus, that's the equivalent of a beautifully framed shot because it betrays the emotion in it," Ackroyd says.


Posted by Geoff at 10:32 PM CST
Updated: Sunday, January 17, 2010 8:09 PM CST
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Tuesday, November 17, 2009
ARMOND: REDACTED ACTING "SUPERBLY ON-POINT"
AND BLOG REVIEWER ON REDACTED
Armond White at the New York Press begins his review of the new Iraq war-themed movie, The Messenger, by contrasting the acting style with that of Redacted:

Despite the many things wrong with Brian De Palma’s Redacted, the acting was superbly on-point. De Palma’s little-known cast got class differences right, even while the film’s rhetorical concept was slanting them into the typical Blue State condescension about working-class grunts. This bias infects the latest Iraq War movie, The Messenger, by writer-director Oren Moverman, who lacks De Palma’s instincts for actorly (human) truth. This story about two veterans (Ben Foster, Woody Harrelson) assigned MOS duty to deliver death notices to the deceased’s NOK (next-of-kin), is so bungled up with fashionable ambivalence about the Iraq War that every single behavioral detail is not just prejudicial but wrong.

Later in the review, White gives praise to the homecoming bar scene in Redacted, before reiterating his opinion that Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker is "now overrated":

For Moverman, Iraq soldiers are already dead. The Messenger is a requiem for zombies at board and overseas. Moverman isn’t skilled enough to convey complex grief like Redacted’s homecoming bar scene; he leaves his actors hanging with specious dialogue all over their faces. Full-bodied Morton has a needful, open gaze but there’s no believable sense of her character’s social reality—she’s playing a conceit. So is Foster, who is always prone to over-acting; Foster confuses making pass at Morton with showing desperation. Or is that Moverman’s confusion? Moverman can’t keep up with his actors’ misguided intensity; his camera roams over the scenes’ emotional values.

At least Kathryn Bigelow’s now-overrated Iraq War requiem, The Hurt Locker, was skillfully directed—noir tropes disguised as a war statement. Yet Bigelow’s skillful film let slip a similarly obnoxious suspicion of its characters—as in its “War is a Drug” conceit that, like The Messenger, critiques masculinity but fails to understand the depths of human commitment. It’s a sorry state when morally befuddled political tracts pass for drama.

BLOG CRITIC SAYS REDACTED ALMOST BURNS THE WAR MOVIE DOWN TO THE GROUND
Meanwhile, This Island Rod's Roderick Heath states that "Redacted almost succeeds in burning the war movie itself down to the ground, as it keeps the spirit of enquiring, experimental narrative as defined in '60s art alive and relevant." Heath feels the "cultural memory of Vietnam," along with De Palma's earlier films about that war, looming over Redacted. Heath further makes the distinction that in Redacted, De Palma is not concerned with reproducing reality, but instead, "turns realism into a mode of expression."


Posted by Geoff at 3:19 PM CST
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Sunday, September 6, 2009
GREEN: "THEY PLANNED IT..."
"IF I HAD NOT GONE TO IRAQ, I WOULD NOT HAVE GOT CAUGHT UP IN ANYTHING"
According to this Associated Press article from Canada's CBC, Steven Green told the judge at his trial in Kentucky that he was merely following orders from other soldiers when the group of them, disguised as insugents, attacked a family at their rural home outside Mahmoudiya, Iraq, in 2006. When asked how he felt about the others being out of prison one day, Green said that would be "all right" with him. "They planned it," said Green. "All I ever did was what they told me to do." Here is an excerpt from the article:

"You can act like I'm a sociopath. You can act like I'm a sex offender or whatever," Green said. "If I had not joined the army, if I had not gone to Iraq, I would not have got caught up in anything."

At a hearing in May, Green repeatedly apologized to the al-Janabi family, saying he knew little about Iraqis and that he realizes now his actions then were wrong.

Green described the attacks as "evil" and said when he dies "there will be justice and whatever I deserve, I'll get."

During Green's trial, defence attorneys never contested Green's role in the attacks. Instead, they focused on saving his life by bringing forward witnesses who testified that the U.S. military failed Green on multiple fronts — by allowing a troubled teen into the service, not recognizing and helping a soldier struggling emotionally and providing inadequate leadership.

During the sentencing hearing, defence attorney Patrick Bouldin said Green tried to take responsibility for his role in the attacks, twice offering to plead guilty and serve life in prison.

Assistant US attorney Marisa Ford said one offer came on the eve of jury selection, the other two weeks into jury selection.


Posted by Geoff at 12:18 PM CDT
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Saturday, September 5, 2009
GREEN SENTENCED FOR LIFE
AND ANOTHER PASSAGE ABOUT REDACTED
BBC News reports that Steven Green has been given five life sentences, with no possibility of parole, for the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, and the murder of her family. The incident was the basis for Brian De Palma's 2007 film, Redacted.

Nick Lacey posted an excerpt the other day from his recently published second edition of Image and Representation, which looks at key concepts in media language. The excerpt he posted, called "Representing the war in Iraq," looks at several of the films made in recent years about the conflict that began in 2003. Lacey provides a brief but interesting analysis of Redacted, although he seems to say that the photograph that ends the film is an actual photograph (which therefore leads him to call the film "exploitative"), although the final photograph (shown here) was actually a staged photo. Here is Lacy's passage about Redacted:

Redacted, the most unconventional of the ‘Iraq films’, also uses new media technologies to represent the rape of a 15-year-old girl and the murder of herself, and her family, by US marines. The film starts with a disclaimer that the film is ‘a fiction inspired by true events’. The writer-director, Brian De Palma, uses a mix of texts to show what (might have) happened: a ‘home video’ made by one of the marines; a pastiche of a French (intellectual) documentary about Iraq; CCTV cameras; Internet postings; a video made on a mobile phone; photojournalism. Although it may seem that it is a realist text, the multimedia mixing instead draws attention to the artifice of what is shown. This may suggest that such horrendous events cannot be convincingly rendered by realism. Indeed De Palma also deploys melodrama; the one good guy, who tries to publicise what’s happened, is called Lawyer McCoy. This melodrama extends to the use of an aria from Puccini’s opera Tosca, the protagonist of which murders the man who is trying to rape her. This, highly passionate, aria could be seen as an ironic comment upon the Iraqi teenager’s inability to kill her rapists. However, the last image of the film is an actual photograph of the dead girl which needs no melodramatic heightening to appall its audience and so, ultimately, De Palma’s film comes across as exploitative.


Posted by Geoff at 12:14 AM CDT
Updated: Saturday, September 5, 2009 3:58 PM CDT
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Monday, August 31, 2009
TWO YEARS LATER: REDACTED
CLF: "A MASTERPIECE OF CONGRUENCY BETWEEN FORM & CONTENT"
Two years after Brian De Palma's Redacted had its world premiere in Venice, the collective known as Celluloid Liberation Front has posted a clear-eyed, poetic review-- the sharpest piece of writing I've read yet about Redacted. Click the link to read the whole thing, but here is a brief excerpt:

De Palma’s narrative strategy is depictive of his vision of reality: a cluster of events known not only by an omniscient narrator but, by whoever has access to the audiovisual archives available on the internet. If the Hitchcockian suspense is based on the fact that the cinematographic character knows more than the spectator, in Redacted the position of the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) is visible on an insurgents’ website: the intelligence’s function does not belong to the secret agents anymore but, is a possibility given to anybody surfing the global waves of telematics. Ignorance is the incapability of connecting information, of looking for the ‘right’ links, and not the imposed maleficence of an almighty narrator deciding the life and death of its characters.

Posted by Geoff at 11:37 PM CDT
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009
ARMOND WHIITE ON HURT LOCKER
AND OTHER VIEWS ON REDACTED, CASUALTIES OF WAR

Armond White reviews Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker in this week's New York Press, and the second word of his review is "Brian De Palma"--

Although Brian De Palma lost his artistic bearings on the anti–Iraq War bandwagon, director Kathryn Bigelow found her perfect subject. That’s the difference between De Palma’s confused, preachy Redacted and Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker. Bigelow (working from a script by Mark Boal) stays focused on the personalities of soldiers during Bravo company’s last 39 days of rotation in 2004 Baghdad. An early reconnaissance jest (“It’s my dick.”) between Sgt. Sanborn (Anthony Mackie) and Sgt. Thompson (Guy Pearce) recalls De Palma’s ribaldry, but it also indicates Bigelow’s erotic view of masculine endeavor—here defining the propensity for violence and bravery during war.

It's nice to know that White is chalking up his dislike of Redacted to De Palma "losing his artistic bearings" because he supposedly jumped on the anti-Iraq war bandwagon, but I would counter that with Redacted, De Palma had just begun to discover new artistic bearings that were compromised even within that film's already meager budget. In the introduction for this interview with the British artist Legofesto, writer Andy Carling describes how De Palma had wanted to use Legofesto's recreation of the rape and murder of a Mahmudiya family by soldiers in Redacted. He quotes De Palma discussing the things he had to leave out of his film:

It started with small things, like the Legofesto site for example. Here’s a site that actually reconstructs the incident with Legos, shows a Lego figure being raped, blood on the floor, etc. and is critical of the event, but the lawyers come and say, we can’t use it because it has a brand name - Lego. Not that they are to blame. If you put it in its real context - an Internet blog using Lego figures to illustrate an event, I could not see the problem, but legal vetting is set to safeguard and in that respect, who wants the possibility of going to war with Lego?

De Palma did not even originally plan to have a screenplay for Redacted, but was forced to write one and to follow it by the studio. He must have realized he would need one to get financing for a future movie in the same vein as Redacted, so he wrote a script tentatively titled Shoot The Messenger, a project which would have used a form similar to that of the purposely fractured yet streamlined Redacted. It is a shame that financing could not be found for a more radical project such as Shoot The Messenger, which purported to use another internet-like web of sources to delve into the way stories are invented and sold to the public as a way of distorting the truth.

In a double-review of Errol Morris' Standard Operating Procedure and Nick Broomfield's Battle For Haditha, Phil Nugent delved into a discussion of De Palma's war films:

In Haditha, as in some of the Vietnam war movies such as Full Metal Jacket, war puts decent young men into situations where they're temporarily driven insane, which means they cannot be judged. Some reviewers--and, it seems, the director himself--have taken the opportunity to use Broomfield's movie as a club against Brian De Palma's Redacted, just as De Palma's Vietnam movie Casualties of War was denounced by the critics who'd hailed Full Metal Jacket and Platoon as realistic and morally tough-minded. Part of De Palma's message in both his war movies was that atrocities happen when there's an instigator there to get the ball rolling. The other Vietnam movies were part of a culture that sought to make peace with Vietnam vets who felt they'd been maligned and even demonized as part of the overall effort to criticize the war when it was going on, and they did that in part by saying that "war" is so deranging that those who'd done bad things in the field shouldn't be held responsible for anything at all, though they did have the option of feeling sorry for themselves. The ball somehow gets itself rolling. Haditha, portraying American soldiers going batshit psychotic for a brief bloody spell and then switching back to their normal selves, like the Hulk turning back into Bruce Banner, just in time to deliver a climactic soul-searching speech to the bathroom mirror, is a continuation of that trend, and it may seem a very comforting approach for people who want to express horror at what goes on in Iraq but who are terrified that if they seem to criticize any individual soldiers, they'll be accused of not "supporting the troops." What's missing from this attitude is any awareness of, let alone respect and sympathy for, the soldiers who don't go batshit and manage to hang onto their moral bearings, such as the soldier who reported the actual abduction and rape that formed the basis for the story told in Casualties of War, or the helicopter pilot who broke up the My Lai massacre, and all the numberless members of the military who go through just as much hell as anyone in war but resist the urge to run amok. One of the most resonant interviews in Standard Operating Procedure is with a guy who explains that he didn't break up the fun at Abu Ghraib and who agreed to take some pictures because, "Me being the kind of person I am, I try to be friends with everybody. I'm a nice guy, so I took [the picture]. I try not to have anybody mad at me." (This sap goes on to say that the fact that he got in trouble for his actions proves that "being a nice guy doesn't pay off," and then laments, or boasts, that since he got home, people say he's not as nice as he used to be.) The Iraq war was unnecessary, and served no good purpose, but once the president decided that he really, really wanted it, it didn't take too much work from the government to sell the media on making it seem that if you wanted to be a nice guy, if you didn't want anybody mad at you, you had to want this war too. The heroes of My Lai and the Casualties of War rape case and other nightmares were the ones who were willing to be disliked, who thought it was more important to do the obvious right thing than to be thought of as nice guys, and who, by their very existence, show the "War makes you crazy and absolves you of responsibility" school of thought for the self-protective, buck-passing line of horseshit that it is. The people at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere did unforgivable, monstrous things for the best and worst of reasons: they didn't want to be thought of as troublemakers.


Posted by Geoff at 12:19 PM CDT
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Thursday, May 21, 2009
LIFE SENTENCE FOR GREEN


Photo and article courtesy the New York Times:

A jury in Kentucky sentenced a 24-year-old former soldier to life in prison without parole on Thursday for raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl and murdering her, her parents and a younger sister in Iraq.

The verdict spared the defendant, Steven D. Green, death for a crime that prompted Iraqi demands for retribution and raised questions about Army oversight of its most combat-stressed forces.


Posted by Geoff at 7:49 PM CDT
Updated: Thursday, May 21, 2009 7:50 PM CDT
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Sunday, May 10, 2009
JURY: GREEN GUILTY OF RAPE, MURDER
PENALTY YET TO BE DECIDED
Private Steven Green, who was the ringleader of the shocking 2006 attack on an Iraqi family that De Palma's film Redacted was based on, was found guilty on 16 charges by a Kentucky jury Thursday. According to an article in The Independent, the charges include rape, premeditated murder and obstruction of justice. The jury will reconvene on Monday to decide Green's penalty. Relatives of the murdered Iraqi family said they will only be satisfied if Green is given a death sentence that is then carried out, according to The Independent article by Kim Sengupta:

"So they decided this criminal was guilty, but we don't expect he'll be executed. Only if he's executed, will we know that the right thing was done," a cousin, Yusuf Mohammed Janabi, told Reuters. The dead schoolgirl's uncle, Karim Janabi, added: "By all measures, this was a very criminal act. We are just waiting for the court to sentence him so he gets justice and the court can change the image of Americans."

According to an AP article by Steve Robrahn, government prosecutors at Green's trial stated that Green had "bragged during a barbecue celebration later that what he had done [to the Iraqi family] was 'awesome.,'" and that Green was only interested in killing Iraqis "nonstop." According to Robrahn's article:

In opening statements at the trial, Patrick Bouldin, a public defender, said Green's platoon had been decimated by deaths and injuries before the crime.

"You have to understand the background that leads up to this perfect storm of insanity," Bouldin told the jury.

Bouldin said Green had sought help dealing with combat stress after the deaths of close colleagues and was unsure whether Iraqis he encountered were friend or foe.

"They couldn't tell the village people and the farmers from the insurgents and the terrorists," he said.


Posted by Geoff at 10:15 PM CDT
Updated: Wednesday, May 13, 2009 11:49 AM CDT
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