Wired.com is running an interesting article called “The Blogs of War,” about military personnel overseas posting articles and pictures about their experiences.
The snapshots of Iraqi prisoners being abused at Abu Ghraib were taken by soldiers and shared in the digital military netherworld of Iraq. Their release to the world in May last year detonated a media explosion that rocked a presidential campaign, cratered America’s moral high ground, and demonstrated how even a superpower could be blitzkrieged by some homemade downloadable porn. In the middle of it all, a lone reservist sergeant stationed on the Iraqi border posed a simple question:
“I cannot help but wonder upon reflection of the circumstances, how much longer we will be able to carry with us our digital cameras, or take photographs and document the experiences we have had.”
The writer was 24-year-old Chris Missick, a soldier with the Army’s 319th Signal Battalion and author of the blog A Line in the Sand. While balloon-faced cable pundits shrieked about the scandal, Missick was posting late at night in his Army-issue “blacks,” with a mug of coffee and a small French press beside him, his laptop blasting Elliot Smith’s “Cupid’s Trick” into his headphones. He quickly seized on perhaps the most profound and crucial implication of Abu Ghraib:
“Never before has a war been so immediately documented, never before have sentiments from the front scurried their way to the home front with such ease and precision. Here I sit, in the desert, staring daily at the electric fence, the deep trenches and the concertina wire that separates the border of Iraq and Kuwait, and write home and upload my daily reflections and opinions on the war and my circumstances here, as well as some of the pictures I have taken along the way. It is amazing, and empowering, and yet the question remains, should I as a lower enlisted soldier have such power to express my opinion and broadcast to the world a singular soldier’s point of view? To those outside the uniform who have never lived the military life, the question may seem absurd, and yet, as an example of what exists even in the small following of readers I have here, the implications of thought expressed by soldiers daily could be explosive.”
By John Hockenberry