‘Collateral Murder’ and the My Lai Massacre

Hits: 459

To gauge the transformation in the response by the U.S. military, the mainstream media and the public to a U.S. war crime, one need only compare the reactions to two of the most heinous American crimes:  the 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the gunning down of innocent Iraqis on a Baghdad street in 2007.

The latter was captured on a cockpit video from attacking Apache helicopters and revealed in a video released by WikiLeaks ten years ago today. Wikileaks obtained the video from a conscientious U.S. Army intelligence analyst, Chelsea Manning. 

The My Lai incident was revealed to the public in Nov. 1969 through the reporting of investigative journalist Seymour Hersh. An army veteran whistleblower, Ronald Ridenhour, had first written in early 1969 to the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and members of Congress revealing credible details about the massacre. It lead to a military investigation.

The probe found that U.S. Army soldiers had killed 504 unarmed people on March 16, 1968  in the village of My Lai, including men, women and children. Some women were gang-raped by the soldiers.  The military investigation led to charges against 26 soldiers.  Just one, Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a C Company platoon leader, was convicted. He was found guilty of the premeditated murder of 109 villagers. (Given a life sentence, he ultimately served only three and a half years under house arrest.).

But Calley’s conviction was largely covered up by the military.  The New York Times ran only a short Associated Press story on Sept. 7, 1969, with few details. Hersh, however, heard something about the incident from a military source in Washington and started poking around. Eventually he got to see Calley in his cell in Georgia and was even allowed to look through classified notes on his case.  Hersh had his story. He pitched it to Look and Life Magazines, but was turned down. Eventually the freelancer published his story at the obscure Dispatch News Service.

There was a public outcry after Hersh’s revelation. It was picked up by newspapers across the nation, including on the front pages of The New York Times and Washington Post.  It fueled anti-war sentiment and hatred of President Richard Nixon. Two days following Hersh’s story about 250,000 anti-war protestors gathered at the Washington Monument. “It surpassed in size the civil rights March on Washington in 1964 and was easily the largest — and was perhaps the youngest — antiwar crowd ever assembled in the United States,” the Post reported.

Forty years after the My Lai incident, Apache helicopter gunships patrolling the skies of Baghdad on July 12, 2007 opened fire on a group of civilians on a street below, killing a number of people, including two Reuters journalists, and the driver of a van who had come to pick up the wounded. 

During the My Lai incident one brave American serviceman, Hugh Thompson, landed his helicopter between cowering civilians and advancing GIs and told the Americans his gunship would fire on them if they didn’t stop. In Baghdad, one U.S. soldier, Ethan McCord, saved the lives of two Iraqi children over the orders of his superiors.  

Photo by United States Army photographer Ronald L. Haeberle on March 16, 1968 in the aftermath of the My Lai massacre (Source: Wikipedia)

Where the Similarities End

Some similarities between the two incidents are uncanny. But the outcomes were wholly different.  Both were stories of a U.S. military massacre of innocent civilians, just two instances of many such massacres across Vietnam and Iraq. Both began with a whistleblower, Ridenhour on My Lai and Manning on Baghdad. Both stories were turned down by major media, and later accepted by obscure publications (which then made WikiLeaks well-known). (Manning was first turned down by the Times and The Washington Post).

But that’s where the similarities end. The My Lai story led to a military investigation and a conviction of a U.S. soldier for mass murder. It caused a global outcry when all the facts became known. It contributed to the growing anti-war movement in the U.S. And it catapulted Hersh into prominence. As a result of his story, the freelancer was hired by The New York Times. 

The Baghdad massacre led to no military investigation or charges against any soldier involved, despite video evidence that was stronger than what came out of My Lai. (The Army photographer who took the photo up top admitted to destroying pictures of the murders being committed.) The whistleblower was not jailed, as Manning was, but was listened to, and it led to an investigation.  The ‘Collateral Murder’ video caused a stir, but hardly a global outcry, and it did not contribute to a U.S. anti-war movement. While WikiLeaks was catapulted into prominence, its publisher did not win a Pulitzer Prize, as Hersh did, but instead is languishing in a London prison on remand pending an extradition request by the United States to stand trial for espionage. 

It bears repeating:  At least one American soldier was imprisoned in My Lai. Hersh and the whistleblower did not go to jail.  Not one U.S. soldier has gone to jail for the Baghdad massacre and the whistleblower and the journalist who revealed the crime were both imprisoned. 

Manning’s 35-year sentence was commuted in 2017. She was again imprisoned for more than 250 days for refusing to testify to a grand jury against Assange, before she was released last month. Assange remains in a maximum security prison for doing the same job Hersh did. 

These fundamentally different outcomes to a strikingly similar situation shows how far American society has sunk into the mire of authoritarianism and obedience.

Ellsberg and Assange

There is another Vietnam-era story that contrasts sharply with WikiLeaks, demonstrating how much the U.S. has changed for the worse in half a century. During the 1973 trial of whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg for leaking the Pentagon Papers it became known that the government had broken into Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office and bugged his phone to dig up dirt on him. The judge in the case was also offered the FBI directorship if Ellsberg were convicted.

When this serious prosecutorial misconduct became known, Ellsberg’s case was immediately thrown out and he was a free man.  Fast forward nearly 50 years to Assange’s case. It is now publicly known that a Spanish company, UC Global, was contracted by the Ecuadorian government to conduct 24/7 video surveillance of Assange in the London embassy and that this audio and video–including of privileged conversations between Assange and his lawyers–was sold to the Central Intelligence Agency.

In other words, the prosecuting government eavesdropped on the defense preparations. This is even more egregious misconduct than in Ellsberg’s case, though it has not led to the extradition request on espionage charges being immediately tossed out. 

At a rally for Assange in London in February, I asked Yanis Varoufakis, the former Greek finance minister, why this was so. “The difference is that Dan was tried in a normal court,” he said. “Julian will never be given this opportunity. Julian is going to disappear into a system where not even his lawyers will know what the charges are. Habeas Corpus does not exist for him.  Things are getting worse. Far worse.”


Originally published on 2020-04-05

About the author: Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston GlobeSunday Times of London and numerous other newspapers.  He can be reached at joelauria@consortiumnews.com and followed on Twitter @unjoe

Source: Consortium News

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

READ MORE!
Recognize the Genocide that Happened—And the One Now Beginning
The United States, Europe, and their partners must officially recognize the Mountainous Karabagh Republic within its constitutional frontiers.Stepanakert, Mountainous Karabagh — I no longer know what to do on April 24—or where to go. This is the day Armenians across the globe commemorate the genocide in 1915 that destroyed the Armenian people and its homeland of thousands of years.Those killing fields, the homes of my grandparents, are located in historic western Armenia—now eastern Turkey. But a century later, this very region has erupted in all-out war. Turkish forces are on the offensive again, this time, Armenians having been eliminated, against ...
READ MORE
Pope Francis at Auschwitz but not at Jasenovac Slaughterhouse in Catholic Croatia
Jasenovac in Croatia was the third largest World War II concentration camp in Europe by number of victims. It was operated by the Catholic and Nazi-allied Ustasha government. Wartime Croatia has been called “one great slaughterhouse.”The prisoners – mostly Serbs, Jews and Roma had their throats cut with specially designed knives, or they were killed with axes, mallets and hammers; they were also shot, or they were hung from trees or light poles. Some were burned alive in hot furnaces, boiled in cauldrons, or drowned in the River Sava.Here the most varied forms of torture were used. Finger and toe nails were pulled out with ...
READ MORE
Islamic Extremists Establish Foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
Peace TV, an enterprise directed from India, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai by a fu­­ndamentalist Islamist preacher, Zakir Naik, has established a 12-hour daily program in Kosovo, a country 90% Muslim. The entry into Kosovo of Naik’s Peace TV, broadcasting each day in Albanian from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., appears to be an element in a novel campaign by South Asian Islamists to establish a foothold among Europe’s indigenous Balkan Muslims. Peace TV’s message is hard-line Wahhabism, which insults, in aggressive terms, spiritual Sufis, Shia Muslims, non-fundamentalist Sunnis, Jews, Christians, and Hindus, among others. Radical Islamist interlopers and their financiers, mainly ...
READ MORE
Study: “Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, 2014
Study: Joel Beinin & Lisa Hajjar, "Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict. A Premier", Published by the Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP), February 2014, pp. 16 Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement! Donate to Support Us We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations. [wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
READ MORE
Bosnia-Herzegovina ISIS in the 1990s: A Short Documentary Movie by the SKY News
Video documentary movie on the first ISIS in Europe in the Islamic Caliphate of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-1995.This movie is made by the British SKY NEWS after the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.Similar documentary movies on the ISIS Bosnia-Herzegovina made by the Bosnian Serbs were never shown to the Western audience.The duration of the movie is 8 min. and 17 sec.In the movie are presented and future Al-Qaeda Mujahedeen holy fighters.From the movie is clear what was the real nature of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s.All copyrights reserved by the SKY NEWS.Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, ...
READ MORE
Appeasing the Butchers of Humanity
The president of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a conference entitled the “The Spirit of Turkey’s New Security,” referring to the Treaty of Lausanne, said:“The Turkish Republic is the last state that we founded with whatever was left over from all the self-sacrifices we were able to make... We are heirs of a nation that saw its territory expand to 22 million kilometers. Shortly before the Republic was founded, we had 3 million kilometers which kept diminishing until all we had left was 780,000 kilometers. Some may be offended at my mention of Lausanne. But why does it bother ...
READ MORE
Between the Lines: Western Public Support for Albanian Terrorism
Terrorists attacked the Macedonian city of Kumanovo on 9 May, but one wouldn’t know that by reading the Western media’s reaction to the tragedy, despite the fact that they typically mention that 8 police officers were killed and another 37 wounded during the firefight. The media’s disingenuous ‘reporting’ reeks of ulterior motives, which is evidenced most visibly by their reluctance to use the word terrorist without putting it in questionable quotation marks, but also takes more subtle forms such as casting suspicion on the government for complicity in the attack and/or inferring that the attack was some type of legitimate ...
READ MORE
The U.S. has Installed in 2014 a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine
This article first published in March 2014 at the very outset of the Ukraine crisis explains the nature of the Kiev proxy regime. we are dealing with a Neo-Nazi government supported by “Western democracy” and the “international community”.  According to the New York Times, “The United States and the European Union have embraced the revolution here as another flowering of democracy, a blow to authoritarianism and kleptocracy in the former Soviet space.” ( After Initial Triumph, Ukraine’s Leaders Face Battle for Credibility,  NYTimes.com, March 1, 2014, emphasis added). “Flowering Democracy, Revolution”?  The grim realities are otherwise. What is a stake is a ...
READ MORE
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
The conditionality of the Soviet Union’s agreement to allow East Germany to be taken by West Germany and for the Cold War to end, was that NATO would not expand «one inch to the east». This was the agreement that was approved by the Russian President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, a great man and a subsequent hero to democrats around the world.He agreed then to end the Soviet Union and abandon communism and thus to end the entire Cold War; he agreed to this because he had been promised that NATO would expand not «one inch to the ...
READ MORE
“The Civilized World” Strikes Again: Donald Trump, a Complete Puppet of the Military Industrial Complex
It is apparent given the timelines and the lack of time given to verifying the validity of accusations concerning the gas attack in Homs, Syria, that plans had already been coordinated for such an attack. Watching the mainstream media the viewer receives the impression from the wording of the announcers reports and questions for the “experts” that the matter was already decided in favour of the U.S. military strike on the airbase. I see pictures of Colin Powell at the UN holding up glossy photos of supposed chemical weapons manufacturing plants. It demonstrates to a high degree how easily manipulated Trump ...
READ MORE
The Dishonest Career of the Remarkable Srđa Popović
Many readers likely never heard the name of the remarkable Serbia-born political operator named Srđa Popović. Yet he and his organization, CANVAS, have played a lead role in most every CIA-backed Color Revolution since he led the toppling of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, at least fifty according to last count. Now he has turned his sights on Hungary and Hungary’s popular and defiant Prime Minister Victor Orban. On September 8, the professional regime-change specialist Srđa Popović came to Budapest and joined with the anti-Orban opposition groups in front of the Hungarian Parliament. It‘s clear that Popović was not ...
READ MORE
My Grandfather (Jonas Noreika) wasn’t a Nazi-Fighting War Hero — He was a Brutal Collaborator
Eighteen years ago, my dying mother asked me to continue working on a book about her father, Jonas Noreika, a famous Lithuanian World War II hero who fought the Communists. Once an opera singer, my mother had passionately devoted herself to this mission and had even gotten a PhD in literature to improve her literary skills. As a journalist, I agreed. I had no idea I was embarking on a project that would lead to a personal crisis, Holocaust denial and an official cover-up by the Lithuanian government. Growing up in Chicago’s Marquette Park neighborhood — the neighborhood that had the ...
READ MORE
Remembering Edward Herman: Explains the Role of Media Propaganda in Justifying War
On November 11, distinguished scholar, political economist, media analyst/critic, peace champion Ed Herman passed away at age 92.It was fittingly on the 99th anniversary of WW I’s end. Endless wars followed “the war to end all wars” – a legacy of mass slaughter and destruction Herman deplored, championing elusive world peace.Along with his friends and family, I mourn his passing, a valued friend and colleague, a contributor to my 2014 book, titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks World War III.”He and other distinguished contributors made the book successful, published in Russia and France.Ed Herman’s writing ...
READ MORE
Documentary Film: “Kosovo: Can You Imagine?” (2009, Canada)
“Kosovo: Can You Imagine?” is a documentary film by Canadian film maker Boris Malagurski, about the Serbs that live in Kosovo and the lack of human rights that they have today, in the 21st century.Most of the Kosovo Serbs have been ethnically cleansed by the Albanians who make up the majority of Kosovo.Kosovo has been under UN administration since 1999 when NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days to halt a crackdown on ethnic Albanian separatism in its province of Kosovo.In the years following the war, thousands of Serbs were expelled from their homes, kidnapped and killed. Their houses, cultural and ...
READ MORE
The American War
I was 23-years-old the first time I was arrested. It was at the Pentagon— an act of civil disobedience in protest of the U.S. war on Vietnam. My boyfriend, Jerry Rubin, and I were organizers for the National Mobilization Committee Against the War (familiarly called The Mobe).Here we call it the Vietnam War. The Vietnamese more accurately call it the American War. After all, the U.S. was the aggressor. It was our troops that landed on their soil; our planes that bombed their cities and sprayed Agent Orange; our army massacred their civilians, women and children included. Not the other ...
READ MORE
How Britain stole $45 trillion from India (And lied about it)
There is a story that is commonly told in Britain that the colonisation of India - as horrible as it may have been - was not of any major economic benefit to Britain itself. If anything, the administration of India was a cost to Britain. So the fact that the empire was sustained for so long - the story goes - was a gesture of Britain's benevolence.New research by the renowned economist Utsa Patnaik - just published by Columbia University Press - deals a crushing blow to this narrative. Drawing on nearly two centuries of detailed data on tax and trade, Patnaik ...
READ MORE
NATO Attack on Serbian State TV Wiped from Record
On 23 April 1999, a NATO missile attack on Radio Television of Serbia (RTS) headquarters killed 16 employees of the state broadcaster. The forgotten war crime occurred during the Kosovo War (March 1998-June 1999), and was part of NATO’s aerial campaign alongside the US-backed Kosovo Liberation army, in opposition to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.In the aftermath of the attack there were no great public campaigns launched for the 16 murdered journalists and employees, no outpouring of emotion for those killed, no calls for solidarity and togetherness in the face of aggression. On the contrary the West justified this grievous ...
READ MORE
Before Columbus: How Africans Brought Civilization to America
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in 2014. On Monday [October 13 2014], America’s government offices, businesses, and banks all grind to a halt in order to commemorate Columbus Day. In schools up and down the country, little children are taught that a heroic Italian explorer discovered America, and various events and parades are held to celebrate the occasion. It has now become common knowledge amongst academics that Christopher Columbus clearly did not discover America, not least because is it impossible to discover a people and a continent that was already there and thriving with culture. One can only wonder how ...
READ MORE
North Korea Threatens America. They’re Coming, They’re Going to Blow Us Up
“And you know, we have this mad guy [Kim Jong-un], I guess he’s mad, either he’s mad or he’s a genius, one or the other, but he’s actually more unstable, even than his father, …” (Donald Trump, August 2016 during election campaign) What was indelible about it [the Korean War of 1950-53] was the extraordinary destructiveness of the United States’ air campaigns against North Korea, from the widespread and continuous use of firebombing (mainly with napalm), to threats to use nuclear and chemical weapons, and the destruction of huge North Korean dams in the final stages of the war. …. (Bruce ...
READ MORE
The Basic Guidelines Through the Kosovo Question
The Kosovo Question recently once again became an important issue of global politics and international relations for two reasons: 1) The Albanian “government” of the “Republic of Kosovo” announced to officially proclaim the existence of the Kosovo Army (that is a violation of the 1244 UN Resolution in 1999), and 2) The “president” of the “Republic of Kosovo”, a war criminal Hashim Tachi, participated on November 11th (2018) in Paris to the world leaders’ celebration of a centenary anniversary of the end of the WWI (the signed armistice with Germany) as the official representative of an “independent” Kosovo. He was ...
READ MORE
Recognize the Genocide that Happened—And the One Now Beginning
Pope Francis at Auschwitz but not at Jasenovac Slaughterhouse in Catholic Croatia
Islamic Extremists Establish Foothold in Kosovo and the Balkans
Study: “Palestine, Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict”, 2014
Bosnia-Herzegovina ISIS in the 1990s: A Short Documentary Movie by the SKY News
Appeasing the Butchers of Humanity
Between the Lines: Western Public Support for Albanian Terrorism
The U.S. has Installed in 2014 a Neo-Nazi Government in Ukraine
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
“The Civilized World” Strikes Again: Donald Trump, a Complete Puppet of the Military Industrial Complex
The Dishonest Career of the Remarkable Srđa Popović
My Grandfather (Jonas Noreika) wasn’t a Nazi-Fighting War Hero — He was a Brutal Collaborator
Remembering Edward Herman: Explains the Role of Media Propaganda in Justifying War
Documentary Film: “Kosovo: Can You Imagine?” (2009, Canada)
The American War
How Britain stole $45 trillion from India (And lied about it)
NATO Attack on Serbian State TV Wiped from Record
Before Columbus: How Africans Brought Civilization to America
North Korea Threatens America. They’re Coming, They’re Going to Blow Us Up
The Basic Guidelines Through the Kosovo Question

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu