Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
July 8, 2006

Early Warning?

Steven-Green-Lock

Was it just a simple twist of fate that Steven Green was featured in this Army News Service photo back on December 9th of last year in the town of Mullah Fayed — or was it also a telegraph?

Green is the former soldier who was arrested this week for the rape and murder of a 15 year old Iraqi girl, and the killing of her family on March 12 near Mahmudiya.  If you’ve been following the story, there is now speculation that the kidnapping and killing of two American soldiers last month may have been retribution for Green’s actions.

Although this photo has been removed from the Army News Service site, the article it accompanied is still there.  Ironically, the piece is titled: "Coalition forces keep streets of Iraq safe."  The caption said Green was preparing "to blast a lock off the gate of an abandoned home during a search of homes."   Quite a few blogs have run this pic, but with reference only to title and caption.

I was interested in the difference in fact and tone between article and photo.

The Army News article says that the goal of these home raids were to reassure citizens while scaring the insurgents.  But the write-up highlights the use of dogs to search homes, which BAGreaders have mentioned numerous times represents an insult to the average Iraqi.

The article also stresses the respect for personal and property rights.  And yet, here we have a soldier taking a gun to a lock.  Do I understand that the military needs to shoot these things off in the middle of what the article describes as a "quiet residential neighborhood?"  At my gym, they have a pair of metal cutters that will easily do the same job.

Maybe this photo illustrates standard operating procedure.  At the same time, could it have possibly been an early-warning concerning a soldier about to be kicked out of the service for an Antisocial Personality disorder before his insane crimes were committed?

(image: Army News Service.)

  • ummabdulla

    Well, that article was from Army Public Affairs, so what could we expect? I just finished reading “I Was a Mouthpiece for the American Military”, where a TV producer says that while embedded, she wasn’t able to report anything negative about the U.S. military.
    About the nighttime raids (from http://harpers.org/sb-i-was-a-mouthpiece-1152219764.html):
    “It was routine for the producer to wait in one room of a house while detainees were questioned in another. ‘Not always, but there were times when I would hear detainees screaming during the questioning,’ she said. ‘I’m not sure what was happening but they were screaming loudly—they weren’t just being slapped around.’”
    I’d like to know more about Green’s personality disorder. First of all, whether he really did have one, and whether his discharge really had nothing to do with the rape and murder near Mahmudiya. I guess it’s possible, since recruiters seem to be scraping the bottom of the barrel and ignoring all kinds of problems. In any case, if the evidence is overwhelming, then that personality disorder will come in handy for his defense.
    By the way, here’s something I wrote to explain the Islamic attitude towards dogs: http://www.arabtimesonline.com/arabtimes/letters/view.asp?msgID=315

  • James

    You must mean before his crimes were discovered by the American public.
    Green was sent back to the States in April, just weeks after the atrocity. Either the 101st thought they could cover up this atrocity, or Green committed other, similar crimes that we don’t yet know about.
    This atrocity came to light because of the horrible retribution visited upon his fellow soldiers, the torture, beheading and castration of two members of his platoon in June. Surely his platoon leader knew about this, if he wasn’t one of the four who actually committed the atrocity. The crime was reported by people outside the platoon when one of the soldiers confessed to it during grief counseling.
    And the others who committed the atrocity are still in Iraq “under close supervision.” Hmmm.

  • http://piglipstick.blogspot.com/ nolocontendere

    Cannonfire is all over this. There could be some hidden stuff that’s pretty grim, a black ops incident that went wrong and a cover up that stretches through the chain of command.
    Retroactively whitewashing those pictures ain’t going to work these days.

  • weisseharre

    mr.jolie.djinns

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking

    Uday.

  • http://www.woodka.com donna

    The early warnings are the reports of the female Iraqi soldiers coming home with stories of being raped or sexually assaulted in Iraq. By not paying attention to what happens to our own troops, by their own fellow soldiers, we start giving these kids free reign to do what they want and exercise gross errors in morality and judgement.
    Until the government enforces morality within its own ranks, it will only get worse.
    And recruiting these kids with mental problems doesn’t help. My bipolar nephew was screened out when he tried to enlist ten years ago. Today he probably would have been accepted.
    Recruiters own morailty is also an issue. For instance, my niece now has a lovely little boy thanks to a Marine recruiter friend of hers. He had a previous child out of wedlock also. A month after my niece moved in with him, he got yet another girl pregnant. So three instances of immoral behavior and lack of responsiblity, and yet there has been NO disciplinary action taken against him.
    The morality is sadly, sadly lacking in this military force. And it isn’t a few bad apples – this is systematic.

  • Rafael

    Uday? Your day, my day?
    What the hell is that supposed to mean….
    Oh, wait, “they” are worse than “us” so whatever “we” do is either justified or pales in comparison….
    This is not about “them” it’s about “us.” If you claim moral superiority then you have to fight to keep it. Rape and murder (aledged rape and murder) are no way of keeping the “moral high ground”).

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking


    Uday? Your day, my day?
    What the hell is that supposed to mean….

    The late unlamented Uday Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti and former private Steven Green of Midland TX share no common culture yet managed to conjure remarkably similar demons in Iraq. Bad seed, both of them. That both operated with state sanction is double proof of failure.
    I don’t see a bright line between our solution and Saddam’s.

  • http://ruinsofempire.blogspot.com/ Rafael

    Sorry, black dog, overeacted there….
    Your right, of course, but of course any one person is capable of doing any one thing, be it laudable or criminal, whether he is the son of a Dictator or a boy from Midland Texas.

  • Randolph

    Add this to the psychos that are not being rejected for service in the military. The Southern Poverty Law Center has just issued a report stating that the white supremacists and nazis are actively encouraging their members to join up in the military so they can get the necessary training to fight their racist battles in this country. There are many of them already in the military and reports are that their racist slogans are appearing on walls in Baghdad. The SPLC also believes gangs are joining the military, for much the same reason. Looks like when our economy starts to go south, they will be ready. Have a nice weekend, folks.

  • readytoblowagasket

    The BAG asks, “Was it just a simple twist of fate that Steven Green was featured in this Army News Service photo back on December 9th of last year in the town of Mullah Fayed — or was it also a telegraph?”
    Considering the number of criminal charges filed against active duty servicemen in 5 separate cases, and the widespread lack of ethics by U.S. commanders (Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, Fallujah, etc.), it was just a *matter of time.*
    A map showing the locations of the crimes committed in Haditha, Ramadi, Hamdaniya, Salaheddin province, and now Mahmoudiya, along with details/names of those charged (so far) can be found at CNN.com.
    http://tinyurl.com/mck6t
    While *we* may see this as a “telegraph,” the U.S. military clearly doesn’t give a shit. Let me count the ways:
    1) U.S. Redeploying Troops With Mental Health Issues
    “Despite a congressional order that the military assess the mental health of all deploying troops, fewer than 1 in 300 service members see a mental health professional before shipping out.”

    “Some troops who developed post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq are being sent back to the war zone.”

    “The Army’s top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth C. Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder back into combat, have been driven in part by the troop shortage. . . .
    “Under the military’s pre-deployment screening process — routinely no more than a single, self-reported mental health question on a form — troops with serious mental disorders are not being identified, and others whose mental illnesses are known are being deployed anyway.
    “The Army acknowledges in studies that more than 9% of deploying troops have serious psychiatric disorders.”
    http://tinyurl.com/oyak2
    2) Senior US Iraq general finds Marine commanders at fault in Haditha probe
    http://tinyurl.com/q88ql
    3) What Randolph said:
    Racist extremists active in U.S. military
    “Under pressure to meet wartime manpower goals, the U.S. military has relaxed standards designed to weed out racist extremists. . . . Department of Defense investigators estimate thousands of soldiers in the Army alone are involved in extremist or gang activity.”
    http://tinyurl.com/zprsn
    4) The military released Steven Green and hundreds of others with “personality disorders” into civilian society after spending a good chunk of time in lawless Iraq.
    “The Army discharged 805 soldiers for personality disorders in 2001, 734 in 2002, 980 in 2003, 988 in 2004 and 1,038 in 2005.”
    http://tinyurl.com/pjclc
    Not to mention no charges have yet been filed against the soldiers held in Iraq for questioning in connection with the Green case.
    Remind me again why I should support the troops?

  • http://www.jaxxattaxx.com/ black dog barking

    Remind me again why I should support the troops?
    RTBAG, the Support Our Troops mantra actually means Support Our Civilian Leadership. It wasn’t former pfc Green’s idea to hump a rifle around Iraq, to be a 24/7 target for an invisible enemy. Take that one up with Richard Bruce Cheney and his lackeys.
    The military knows how to spot misfits. They are in an impossible situation, ground zero in a weakly defined mission, set up to fail.
    It’s not the troops, it’s the mission. The troops didn’t define the mission, the civilian leadership did. If an ineptly designed mission fails it is the inept designer’s fault.
    Unless they want to blame the troops.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Sorry, bdb, but that argument no longer flies. As of today, the four GIs finally charged with the rape of a 15-year-old *girl* weren’t instructed to do so by any civilian “leadership,” and if they were, they actually *do have* the right to refuse orders. At what point exactly do the troops take responsibility for their actions? Do you know that coalition forces have immunity from Iraq law? So what’s to stop them from acting out? If their superiors don’t stop them, nothing.
    Not only is the civilian leadership immoral and incompetent, but the military leadership in place in Iraq has shown itself to be so as well. There are just *too many* examples of coverups, abuses, and negligence throughout the ranks. How much more evidence of crimes need to be leaked to the press, how many more examples of criminal behavior do we need? I don’t need any more.
    There is no valid reason to support criminals or criminal behavior, and we should stop. It no longer has to do with a weak mission, it has to do with weak people executing it.
    “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.”
    — Albert Einstein

  • itwasntme

    To me, this is simply what can be expected during a war. After Viet Nam, I never again thought of American troops being any different from any other country’s. We showed we were just as bad as everyone else away back when, and I’m only surprised at people who are surprised.
    I was against an all volunteer army when that came up for the simple reason that if you can’t get your citizens to fight the fight, maybe you’d better think twice about starting wars of “choice”.
    I hate the mercenary type soldiers/support troops we have purchased. They are loyal to the money, not the ideals. Dis ain’t no ‘merica I reconize…

  • Randolph

    bdb and rtbag, a friend and I were talking about this very thing this afternoon…after a weekend of installing aluminum awnings in 95 deg. heat. Which may account for our speculations. If, assuming this is just the actions of one squad of soldiers (as opposed to the psy-ops of Cannonfire fame), what if one person in that squad is really a sociopath (or even a psychopath). Then, say, and why not, that in any group of 10 or 12 men there are 2 or 3 of them without much of a conscience, or perhaps an abundance of testosterone. Now you have 3 to 4 men in the squad on the edge and ready for anything. What little I know of group dynamics would indicate that there might be 3 or 4 more who would be swept along on the crest of adrenalin (or testosterone) who may later regret their actions. The remainder may reluctantly join in some form of the action either out of fear of ridicule/rejection or outright fear for their lives.
    So, when you have a military that is so desperate for warm bodies that they are now accepting deviant sociopaths rather than admitting that their recruiting efforts are failing, you have a blueprint for disaster. For this I think you can start the blame game right at the top.
    As for the right to refuse orders, that sounds great in the movies. But if there is a psycho in a squad with de facto authority, a soldier refuses orders on risk of his/her life. As for the cover-ups, the military has been covering up scandals for so long that I don’t think they know how NOT to cover up.
    When the right-wing says ’support the troops’ they mean support our dear leader and his war in Iraq; they use it as an epithet against the left. The liberals say it because they still hold the guilt for the Viet-Vets who came back and were spit upon. When they say it they want you to understand that they really mean our boys are only doing what a misguided leader is asking of them. I think this “war” will make us be more specific and discriminating in our use of that phrase. Like everything else in life on the reality-based planet, it’s a complicated issue.

  • ummabdulla

    Randolph: “As for the right to refuse orders, that sounds great in the movies. But if there is a psycho in a squad with de facto authority, a soldier refuses orders on risk of his/her life.”
    And even if their lives aren’t actually in danger, there is so much pressure. I tried to report problems while I was in the military, and you have to follow the chain of command; i.e., you have to get permission from your immediate supervisor, his supervisor, etc., to get to someone above them. By the time you get your meeting with the senior official, everyone else in your chain of command has covered themselves by going to him and spread all kinds of lies about you, explaining that you’re a troublemaker, etc. And even if you get through all that, everyone around you considers you a traitor, which would be that much more difficult when you’re out in combat in Iraq, depending on these other guys for… well, basically everything.
    I saw that peer pressure, too. Perfectly decent, nice guys who would get in a group with other guys and they’d all act obnoxious, sexually harassing the women, etc.

  • Neal

    When has war ever improved the qulity of human interaction? The longer a war continues, the more diffuse and distant victory seems, the worse it becomes. Should we be surprised? We are to the “gook” stage in Iraq, where the is no longer differentiation between combatant and non-combatant-they can all be the enemy and are less than human.

  • readytoblowagasket

    Randolph, if it’s a complicated issue, I think it’s complicated only for us civilians. I don’t think it’s complicated for the military in the least. They’ve been perfecting the art of war for a long time, and they know right from wrong. Subchapter X of the Uniform Code of Military Justice spells out all of the wrongs you may not commit as a soldier, including rape (920.120.) and premeditated murder (918.118.). One of the punishments for either of those acts is death, a much stronger repercussion than feeling pressured by one’s buddies.
    http://www.military-network.com/main_ucmj/SUBCHAPTERX.html
    As for disobeying orders, here’s an interesting piece about the right/obligation of soldiers to disobey *illegal* orders. This article provides some good historical background (and lots of links), and was published in late Feb. 2003, just before the Iraq invasion. (Rape, btw, is illegal whether it was ordered or conceived of on one’s own, and the Code clearly defines what rape is.)
    http://www.omjp.org/ArtLarryDisobey.html
    Unlike the military, civilians don’t have a manual for how to respond when the military doesn’t uphold its own code and procedures or when the government runs amok. Also, our resources are diffuse. I don’t claim to have a manual myself, but I’ve come to understand that the key is to simplify my thinking and not muddy it with hypotheticals. If the military doesn’t honor its own clearly spelled-out rules and regulations, obligations and codes, I have no obligation to and *should not* support the troops. The “boys will be boys” argument need not figure into it.
    This position is bolstered by the known specifics of the Green case, which are appalling even without hypotheticals, generalizations, psy-ops distractions, or full details of the crime. According to the case document filed in court, the crime was reported in *March* by an Iraqi National.
    http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/iraq/usgreen63006cmp6.html
    Green was discharged in mid-May. The U.S. military conducted investigations in late June.
    It’s time to stop supporting the troops on the ground.
    Disturbing details about the Green case in the MSM:
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-rape6jul06,1,2904626.story?page=1&coll=la-headlines-world&ctrack=1&cset=true
    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/01/world/01iraq.html?ex=1152676800&en=8cc4b16deb23c97d&ei=5070
    Which I pulled from this blog:
    http://crimesandmisfortunes.wordpress.com/2006/07/06/see-i-knew-there-was-something-hinky-about-the-burning-of-the-body-the-lies-about-her-age/

  • readytoblowagasket

    Two of the GIs charged in this case were sergeants.
    And the MSM is finally reporting the girl’s age as 14, as the Iraqi witnesses had initially claimed.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/10/iraq/main1789544.shtml

  • Randolph

    “Randolph, if it’s a complicated issue, I think it’s complicated only for us civilians. I don’t think it’s complicated for the military in the least. They’ve been perfecting the art of war for a long time, and they know right from wrong.”
    Should have been more specific, I meant for us civilians. We all want to support ‘our boys’ but what do we do when they commit heinous acts while putatively acting on our behalf? Someone with authority in the world has to step forward and make this clear. The support of the populace for the fighting troops should not be unconditional. When they commit crimes, we should be able to say unequivocally that they have lost our support. We all have to grow up and start making adult decisions for ourselves and our country. Thankfully, most of our soldiers are good and decent, but if we don’t learn to discriminate and demand punishment for those who commit crimes, then we tar them all with the same brush and we will wind up with the same result as after Viet Nam.
    To further clarify, I think probably both sides are wrong here. The right blindly finds no fault and demands support for the troops and the leaders. The liberals, being generally afraid of their own shadow, are just too afraid of hurting somebody’s feelings; they tend to want everything and everybody to be nice. Neither side, really, are acting like adults. Of course, all generalizations are inaccurate, including this one.

  • http://alovelypromise.blogspot.com Nell

    readytoblowagasket: According to the case document filed in court, the crime was reported in *March* by an Iraqi National.
    What the affidavit says, and is supported by previous reporting, is that the killing of the family was reported by three Iraqi men. They did not attribute the killings to U.S. soldiers, they were simply reporting the crime. Some in the community assumed it was the work of Shiite militia; others may have had their suspicions. But the affidavit makes no mention of any Iraqis accusing U.S. forces of the crime.
    A Mahmoudiyah police official said in one of the early stories on the crime (1 or 2 July) that Iraqis had accused the U.S. troops to his office, but that’s flatly contradicted by statements from other Mahmoudiyah police.

  • jt from BC

    From the first cruise missile and foreign soldier, the illegal invasion of Iraq became one gigantic *criminal scene*, hence…..

  • Cactus

    rtbag & Randolph:
    “Several female soldiers at Camp Liberty died of dehydration because they refused to drink liquid in the afternoons, for fear of having to walk to the latrine at night and risk being raped by their male colleagues. ” http://majikthise.typepad.com/majikthise_/2006/01/military_concea.html
    The military says 4% of the female soldiers are raped by their male colleagues. I wonder if the figure isn’t higher than that. The article above would indicate a wide-spread fear of rape, which I must assume among trained soldiers is not an unreasonable fear.
    So the question I pose is, do we have a male establishment which is totally out of control?

  • readytoblowagasket

    Cactus: Yes. We do. As a New Yorker, I think of these stories as roaches: If you see one, you know there are twenty-five more you don’t see.
    Nell: I haven’t read the entire affidavit, but my point (implied, not stated) was that there may have been no *investigation* into the incident because Iraqis reported a crime against Iraqis (a thoroughly biased hunch). I wasn’t saying that the Iraqis flat-out accused U.S. forces and were ignored, but I’m sure if they did and were, those details will emerge eventually.
    Iraqi witnesses certainly did suspect Americans, but I don’t know whether they voiced those suspicions to the U.S. authorities directly. From the LA Times (Janabi is the girl’s cousin, Kasim is one of the victims):
    “Janabi said he suspected the Americans because the dozens of shots fired would have been heard by U.S. troops at the nearby checkpoint. And from what he could gather, the killers were at the house for more than two hours, too long for them to have gone unnoticed by the Americans. He also said he suspected that whoever carried out the killings had used Kasim’s AK-47 assault rifle, the only item that Janabi said was missing from the house.
    “Initially, U.S. military officials said the killings were the result of intra-Iraqi feuding, a plausible conclusion given the dozens of revenge killings that happen each day in the country.”
    Details that U.S. soldiers were stalking the girl have already emerged. From the same article:
    “Janabi said Abeer was not in school and, like other peasant girls, seldom left the house. But he said that three days before the killings, the Rasheed family was at his house and his cousin was complaining that the American soldiers at the nearby guard post were constantly searching her house. Janabi said the parents believed that the ‘girl was the target.’ ”
    Iraqi civilians likely know exactly who did it. But these people are extremely poor and afraid of retribution. (Look what happened to Abeer and her family for no reason whatsoever.) And they probably know the U.S. military has immunity from prosecution by an Iraqi court. So what are their options? I don’t think we can even fathom their lives.
    I think we should expect contradictory statements by Mahmoudiyah police. Because again, look what happened to Abeer and her family for no reason whatsoever.

  • travy

    the teethed berm in the background looks like it is about to bite him. propehtic?

  • Cactus

    There is a current story in the local news in Los Angeles about several men around 19-20 who gang raped an 11 year old girl. I wonder where they got the idea that they could get away with that?
    Is this sort of thing now so common that in only lasts one day in the news cycle? Or is it so abominable that “nice news” doesn’t want to be confronted with it?
    I’m beginning to wonder if, like the mob mentality, there is a gang mentality. Where one would not commit such an act, 5 or 6 would encourage each other to commit the crime in an ever-increasing macho bravado.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes