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November 23, 2004

The cameraman from Fallujah speaks out

The freelance cameraman/reporter on assignment for NBC who captured the footage of the Marine killing the wounded Iraqi has broken his silence about the incident. Today's UK Guardian reprints some of his comments about the incident from his website.

The cameraman, Kevin Sites, wrote his explanation as an open letter to the Marines of the 3rd Battalion 1st Marine Division with whom he had been embedded.

It is worthwhile to read Mr. Site's statement in full. It is clear that he has been emotionally torn by the incident and feels a deep sense of responsibility to the honorable Marines that he has lived with throughout the Fallujah engagement. Here is his conclusion:

I interviewed your Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Willy Buhl, before the battle for Falluja began. He said something very powerful at the time-something that now seems prophetic. It was this:

"We're the good guys. We are Americans. We are fighting a gentleman's war here -- because we don't behead people, we don't come down to the same level of the people we're combating. That's a very difficult thing for a young 18-year-old Marine who's been trained to locate, close with and destroy the enemy with fire and close combat. That's a very difficult thing for a 42-year-old lieutenant colonel with 23 years experience in the service who was trained to do the same thing once upon a time, and who now has a thousand-plus men to lead, guide, coach, mentor -- and ensure we remain the good guys and keep the moral high ground."

I listened carefully when he said those words. I believed them.

So here, ultimately, is how it all plays out: when the Iraqi man in the mosque posed a threat, he was your enemy; when he was subdued he was your responsibility; when he was killed in front of my eyes and my camera -- the story of his death became my responsibility.

The burdens of war, as you so well know, are unforgiving for all of us.

I pray for your soon and safe return.

Update

Wretchard, from the Belmont Club, has a couple of excellent posts about Kevin Sites' statement. As the blogosphere's Fallujah expert, I should have known that he would have something valuable to say on the subject.

November 23, 2004 at 02:17 AM | Permalink

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