Tag Archives: Embeds

Iraq War embed Rob McClure, witness to war crimes he didn’t report, suffers phantom pain in gonads he never had.


DENVER, COLORADO- Today Occupy Denver political prisoner Corey Donahue was given a nine month sentence for a 2011 protest stunt. Judge Nicole Rodarte’s unexpected harsh sentence came after the court read the victim statement of CBS4 cameraman Rob McClure, who said he still feels the trauma of the uninvited “cupping [of his] balls” while he was filming the 2011 protest encampment at the state capitol. Donahue admits that McClure was the target of a “nut-tap”, but insists it was feigned, as occupiers demonstrated their disrespect to the corporate news crews who were intent on demonizing the homeless participants even as Denver riot police charged the park. Though a 2012 jury convicted Donahue of misdemeanor unwanted sexual contact, witnesses maintain there was no physical contact.

Of course simply the implication of contact would have humiliated McClure in front of the battalion of police officers amused by the antic. That’s authentic sexual trauma, just as a high school virgin is violated when a braggart falsely claims to have of engaged them in sexual congress. Donahue was wrong, but how wrong? Can professionals who dish it out claim infirmity when the tables are turned?

Ultimately the joke was on Donahue, because his mark turned out to be far more vulnerable than his dirty job would have suggested. The CBS4 cameraman who Donahue picked on was a louse’s louse.

Off limits?
While some might assert there is no context which would excuse touching a stranger’s genital region, I’m not sure the rule of no hitting below the belt is a civility to which folks facing riot cops are in accord. Protesters can’t shoot cops, they can’t spit at cops, in fact protesters have to pull all their punches. Some would have you believe demonstrators should do no more than put daisies in police gun barrels, all the while speaking calmly with only pleasant things to say.

Let me assure you, simply to defy police orders is already a humiliation for police. What’s some pantomimed disrespect? Humiliating riot cops is the least unarmed demonstrators can do against batons and shields and pepper spray. Should the authorities’ private parts be off limits for a public’s expression of discontent? Jocks wear jock straps precisely because private parts aren’t off sides.

It’s tempting to imagine that all cops are human beings who can be turned from following orders to joining in protestations of injustice and inequity. This is of course nonsense. But it’s even more delusional to think corporate media cameras and reporters will ever take a sympathetic line to the travails of dissidents. Media crews exploit public discontent just as riot cops enjoy the overtime. Media crews gather easy stories of compelling interest from interviewees eager to have their complaints be understood.

Corey Donahue
On October 15, 2011, Rob McClure turned his camera off when the narrative wasn’t fitting the derogatory spin he wanted to put on the homeless feeding team which manned Occupy Denver’s kitchen, dubbed “The Thunderdome.” Donahue observed the cameraman’s deliberate black out of the savory versus the unsavory and reciprocated with the crowd pleasing nut-tap. In the midst of this circus, Colorado State Troopers, METRO SWAT, and city riot police charged the encampment and made two dozen arrests.

It was hours later, perhaps after reviewing police surveillance footage, that McClure conferred with police commanders and agreed to press charges for the nut-tap. Corey Donahue was one of the high visibility leaders of the crowd. He’d been involved in multiple arrests, but this time his bond would be higher and harder to post because instead of the usual anti-protest violations, Donahue would be charged with sex crime.

Ultimately Donahue sought political asylum in South America rather than face having to report for the rest of his life as a sex offender. The offense was only a misdemeanor and his trial was a miscarriage of justice. Attorney friends later convinced Donahue to return to the US because this crime was arguably not sex related and was likely to be overturned on appeal. Likewise, a sentence was unlikely to exceed time served as the “nut-tap” paled in comparison to the police brutality and excessive force which has since ensued. Neither Judge Rodarte or victim Rob McClure got the memo, and it wasn’t the first time McClure failed to frame public outcry in the context of brutal militarized repression.

It turns out McClure’s own self respect was probably way too fragile to have ventured to cast stones at the slovenly homeless occupiers.

Rob McClure
Cameraman Robert McClure had been an embedded reporter in Iraq in 2004. You might expect such a experience to have toughened him up, or expanded his empathy for critics of US authoritarian brutality, but that is to underestimate the culpability of the corporate media war drum beaters.

And McClure’s guilt ran deeper that that. According to his CBS4 bio, McClure was reporting from a major military detention center. It turns out McClure covered Abu Fucking Ghraib. In 2004 McClure’s assignment was to distort what happened there as rogue misconduct. No thanks to fuckers like McClure, the Abu Ghraib techniques were later confirmed to be standard protocol. The US torture and humiliation of prisoners was systemic.

McClure’s coverage for CBS4 specifically glorified Dr. Dave Hnida, otherwise a family physician from Littleton, but in the service of the military as a battlefield surgeon assigned to treat prisoners of war. While it sounds commendatory to attend to the health of our sworn adversaries, in practice that job involves most commonly reviving prisoners being subjected to interrogation. Hnida’s task was to keep subjects conscious for our extended depredations. Medical colleagues call those practitioners “torture docs”. They shouldn’t be celebrated. They should lose their medical licenses.

So that’s the Rob McClure who wrote Judge Rodarte to say that after all these years, having witnessed unthinkable horror and sadistic injustice, while still spinning stories to glorify American soldiers and killer cops and power-tripping jailers, the memory of Corey Donahue’s prank made his balls hurt.

John Pilger – The War You Don’t See

We call it the Iraq War, as we did the Vietnam War, but America’s wars aren’t so-named in the host countries. It’s the Iraq Invasion, not War, and Afghanistan Invasion really, now Occupation, Decimation and Holocaust. Journalist filmmaker John Pilger subscribes to the theory that if a public is let to see the horrors of war, it will refuse to participate. His new documentary THE WAR YOU DON’T SEE traces US and UK efforts since WWI to propagandize war. Amid interviews with news bureau chiefs who he holds culpable for hyping war, Pilger shows censored footage which could have turned public opinion. I have to wonder if a simple sequence of an Iraqi home subjected to a US raid, in particular the focus on a young daughter’s anxiety, would not have broken just enough American hearts.

No new propaganda under the sun


Did you think Operation Iraqi Freedom photographers invented the warplanes-at-sunrise theme? Here’s a propaganda shot circa WWI, where the crack of dawn obviously had to be hand tinted on the original monochrome. Is that any more a manipulation than the digital ultra-vibrance our embeds contrive today? The caption under this photograph, reproduced in The Nations at War: a Current History published in 1914 when the “Great War” was yet “the World’s Greatest War,” reads: “A French armed biplane in pursuit of a German Taube aeroplane.” That’s for the folks on the homefront. In reality the German Dove has probably swooped upon the heavier Farman bomber whose forward gun was mostly used to strafe infantrymen.

Who owns images of American dead?

vietnam-wounded-marineAP photographer Julie Jacobson was reticent to publish her picture of dying US Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Bernard. Though his father was opposed, the Associated Press overruled. But this was no victory for the public’s right to see a true reflection of war. The D.o.D. is still indignant, but I suspect Jacobson’s report was ultimately vetted in their favor. Military propagandists need to represent America’s growing losses in Afghanistan. Jacobson’s image provides their limited hangout. Like the other photographs of casualties which have escaped through embeds, the image of Lance Corporal Bernard is desaturated of blood, and the surrounding events fit the military endorsed narrative.

Have you noticed that all combat images coming out of today’s wars are drab and lifeless. Obviously this motif is not being applied to the PR shots of jets and military hardware, but scenes of soldiering in Iraq and Afghanistan are dusty and grey, like scenes from a dark virtual world.

The colors in Jacobson’s controversial photo are similarly under saturated. Earlier casualty pics have even been rendered as black and white, and this is no exercise of artistic license. Colorless images telegraph little resemblance to our real world lived in color. An emotional distance is created, most obviously like the detachment we feel looking into the past. Everything before the late sixties happened in monocrome. Early color photographs always shock children with the prospect that lives in generations past might have been been lived in a world of contemporary vibrance.

The photographs from Vietnam were helped by that nation’s lush tropical greens. Images of the wounded were all the more gripping –and demoralizing from the military’s point of view– because unlike in Korea and WWII, the blood was red.

Most images taken in Vietnam came through the military staff photographers. The unapproved subjects, which subverted the official face of the war, emerged from the cameras of independent journalists.

dying US marineJulie Jacobson facilitated the release of this picture, by letting slip two details pertinent to the official US narrative in Afghanistan. Would you believe, just prior to this engagement, friendly Afghans came out of their houses to tell the US soldiers where they could find the Taliban? Probably to ensure Corporal Bernard’s squad pointed their guns away from their homes, but that’s not how the story was spun. Jacobson recounts that these Afghans were eager to inform on the Taliban.

The jocular Jacobson records another telltale crowd-pleaser in the aftermath of the Taliban “ambush,” when she found herself flanked by Afghan National Army troops. When the firing started, Jacobson sought immediately the ranks of US soldiers, because the freakin’ ANA Afghans “aren’t very good.”

Today’s media embeds are basically a privatized signal corps. Their photos should belong to the taxpayers. Insinuations that military families should dictate what images can be used, in the event of death, is a cruel irony. Are the families consulted about what Uncle Sam wants to do with their loved one when he’s still alive? Millions of federal tax dollars are spent on our soldiers, all the more when they die. I have little sympathy for the families who couldn’t stand up for their children and protect them from the capricious whims of our military. There is absolutely no reason to ask their permission about what happens when their little soldier meets his/her calculable fate.

Embed cheesecake

embed-cheesecake.jpgIf you have a sense that embedded reporters may be reluctant accomplices to the war machine, here’s a jolt of indecorous complicity. Attractive blond reporter in sea of Green Zone testosterone lends her “me on tank” snapshot extra cheesecake by palming the big gun. One of several photos accompanying her article, this is the shot used to identify her UK newspaper column. Curiously, her column is not entitled media whore.