War is hell

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How will the mainstream media deal with veterans who deliver the bad news? Writing in the Nation, Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian report on 50 interviews with Iraq War veterans about the treatment of civilians.

"Their stories, recorded and typed into thousands of pages of transcripts, reveal disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops in Iraq. Dozens of those interviewed witnessed Iraqi civilians, including children, dying from American firepower. Some participated in such killings; others treated or investigated civilian casualties after the fact. Many also heard such stories, in detail, from members of their unit. The soldiers, sailors and marines emphasized that not all troops took part in indiscriminate killings. Many said that these acts were perpetrated by a minority. But they nevertheless described such acts as common and said they often go unreported--and almost always go unpunished..."

"Fighting in densely populated urban areas has led to the indiscriminate use of force and the deaths at the hands of occupation troops of thousands of innocents.

"Many of these veterans returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the US government and American media. The war the vets described is a dark and even depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory."

Bad things happen in wars. But a real president would make it clear all down the line that when they do, they will be reported and punished. The fish -- or, in this case, the empire -- rots from the head.

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