I want to hurt people
- I Want To Hurt Somebody
By Greg Palast
11/03/06 for The Guardian (London) -- -- It was pure war-nography. The
front page of the New York Times yesterday splashed a four-column-wide
close-up of a blood-covered bullet in the blood-soaked hands of an
army medic who'd retrieved it from the brain of Lance Cpl. Colin Smith.
There was a 40 column-inch profile of the medic. There were photos of
the platoon, guns over shoulders, praying for the fallen buddy. The
Times is careful not to ruin the heroic mood, so there is no
photograph of pieces of corporal Smith's shattered head. Instead,
there's an old, smiling photo of the wounded soldier.
The reporter, undoubtedly wearing the Kevlar armor of the troop in
which he's "embedded," quotes at length the thoughts of the military
medic: "I would like to say that I am a good man. But seeing this now,
what happened to Smith, I want to hurt people. You know what I mean?"
The reporter does not bother or dare to record a single word from
any Iraqi in the town of Karma where Smith's platoon was, "performing
a hard hit on a house."
I don't know what a "hard hit" is. But I don't think I'd want one
"performed" on my home. Maybe Iraqis feel the way I do.
We won't know. The only Iraqi noted by the reporter was, "a woman
[who] walked calmly between the sniper and the marines."
The Times reporter informs us that Lance Cpl. Smith, "said a prayer
today," before he charged into the village. We're told that Smith had,
"the cutest little blond girlfriend" and "his dad was his hero." Did
the calm woman also say her prayers today? Is her dad her hero, too?
We don't know. No one asks.
The reporter and his photographer did visit a home in the neighborhood
but only after the "hit" force kicked in the door. I suppose that's
an improvement over the typical level of reporting we get. In
dispatches home by the few US journalists who brave beyond the Green
Zone, Iraqis are little more than dark shapes glimpsed through the
slots of a speeding Humvee.
Last month there was a big hoo-ha over the statistical accuracy of a
Johns Hopkins University study estimating that 655,000 Iraqis have
died as a result of this war.
I doubt the Iraqi who fired that bullet into Lance Cpl. Smith read the
Hopkins study. Iraqis don't need a professor of statistics to tell
them what happens in a "hard hit" on a house. Of civilians killed by
the US forces the Hopkins team found 46% are younger than fifteen
I grieve for Lance Cpl. Smith and I can't know for certain what moved
the sniper to pick up a gun and shoot him. However, I've no doubt
that, like the Marines who said prayers before they invaded the homes
of the terrified residents of Karma, the sniper also said a prayer
before he loaded the 7.62mm shell into his carbine.
And if we asked, I'm sure the sniper would tell us, "I am a good man,
but seeing what happened, I want to hurt people."
Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, "Armed
Madhouse " Visit his website
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