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Kevin Sites Addresses Marine Shooting

In a post addressed to the Devil Dogs of the 3.1, NBC corresponded Kevin Sites addresses the story behind the video of the shooting in Fallujah he captured on tape.

It's time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw -- without imposing on that Marine -- guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don't mean a damn to me. [More]
After you read his story, what do you think?

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Comments (35)

Headline: Marine shoots emb... (Below threshold)
Mark:

Headline: Marine shoots embedded reporter.

I think the reporter did al... (Below threshold)

I think the reporter did all the right things.

1. He offered to hold the tape for the marine command.

2. He waited until he had all the facts.

3. He presented those facts on MSNBC.

However, he was part of a pool, and the other press in that pool had their own ideas. He considered witholding the tape, but it would be pretty obvious if he did so once the story aired on MSNBC...

Kevin has been portrayed as anti-military, I don't think that's fair. Given the circumstances, the shooting was probably out of line, but there were a fair number of extenuating circumstances for the soldier, which Kevin himself discusses.

Kevin had a set of conflicting obligations: as a reporter for MSNBC, as an American, and as a member of a press pool. Those obligations conflicted, and he did the best he could.

test... (Below threshold)
test:

test

I think the reporter did al... (Below threshold)

I think the reporter did all the right things.

1. He offered to hold the tape for the marine command.

2. He waited until he had all the facts.

3. He presented those facts on MSNBC.

However, he was part of a pool, and the other press in that pool had their own ideas. He considered witholding the tape, but it would be pretty obvious if he did so once the story aired on MSNBC...

Kevin has been portrayed as anti-military, I don't think that's fair. Given the circumstances, the shooting was probably out of line, but there were a fair number of extenuating circumstances for the soldier, which Kevin himself discusses.

Kevin had a set of conflicting obligations: as a reporter for MSNBC, as an American, and as a member of a press pool. Those obligations conflicted, and he did the best he could.

Coincidentally, just before... (Below threshold)
Boyd:

Coincidentally, just before I read your post, I had just posted my own reaction on my blog.

At the risk of accusations of link whoring (entirely justified, because they're true), I'll conserve your comment space and merely link to my own post on this subject.

The argument of "only the f... (Below threshold)
VA Jim:

The argument of "only the facts" is fictitious.(Apologies to Joe Friday, ma'am) It's a fact that our troops ate food during the Falluja attack, yet closeup video of this didn't merit airtime. It's a fact that the troops excreted digested food in stools, and again, this "fact" wasn't filmed and aired. A poor piece of video from any objective standpoint, Mr. Sites made the decision to sell this particular tape for its shock value.

Modern mainstream media has lost their way, and it's time to cut them loose. Until any reporter can act morally, let them wander as the immoral or amoral individuals they've become. Without jepardizing US forces in protecting them. The military's gone through all sorts of fads, from "C3I" onwards. But boneheads in the Pentagon don't seem able to connect the dots between "command control communication" as a means of winning and "da media".

If this means that the only 'reporting' we get from war zones is government produced or military censored, then so be it. We win and minimize deaths. We have tried the other way, the way of the Fourth Estate, and the result is only more dead Americans. (Immediately used by said media for added profit) It's a shame that a promising reporter has gone over to the dark side, but that's what happened.

In any combat there's always questionable action, ranging from crime to under-performance. Thousands of photos from WWI and WWII never made it to the homefront media for the best of reasons. Many more photos were kept, but later destroyed on second thought. A slight loss to historians, it was a great mercy to the soldiers, now citizens living in the post war world. It was justified then, and it would be justified today.

Whether Mr. Sites should be praised, pitied or pilloried depends entirely on your desired outcome. The morality is in American lives saved versus media profits --media exists for no other reason than profit.

Also, the <a href="http://w... (Below threshold)
Wes:

Also, the New York Times centered their story today around his blog post (supposedly a first in MSM). [Sorry for the annoying registration, but bugmenot.com seems to work well].

I don't see where the suppr... (Below threshold)

I don't see where the suppression of fact does anyone a service, particularly in this case. The guy was in a lose-lose situation: destroy the tape and he's part of a right wing, pro-war conspiracy to censor dissenting voices; keep the tape and risk being labeled as a bleeding heart anti-war activist. Obviously he chose to release the tape, and as people are wont, they are making their own conclusions.

If anything all this tape proves (IMHO) is the huge gray area in war, that certainty, the ideas of “black or white”, “good or evil” are a seldom encountered.

Sites says he saw no moveme... (Below threshold)
MasterChef:

Sites says he saw no movement from his vantage point at the time of the shooting. However, earlier in his post he describes in detail that two men were breathing. "Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man's nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him."

He has no way of knowing what the Marine saw from his vantage point at the moment the Marine shouted that someone in the room was faking death. The Marine might have seen some "bubbling" or chest movement like Sites saw a few moments earlier?

If Sites is so smart and concerned about the wounded why didn't he yell "These two are alive" when he saw the bubbling instead of twice yelling about these are the same people from the day before. His announcement that they were alive would have made everyone in the room aware of the condition. One has to wonder why he didn't warn everyone as soon as he saw the "bubble" burst.

I agree with Opinionated Ba... (Below threshold)
John:

I agree with Opinionated Bastard. Sites did his job, professionally and ethically. It appears--as the investigation is not in, I will not assume guilt, but have to say that the photos make damning evidence--that somebody lin a Marine uniform screwed up. That happens. Pretending that everyting in a war goes by "gentlemanly rules" is silly, though that is certainly an honorable goal.

Pool reporters have an obligation that trumps their personal wishes. NBC, as a corporation, behaved well, I think, in holding the materials for 48 hours while it was being looked into.

NBC might have held it indefinitely, but it was not theirs to hold. It was collectively owned by all networks participated in the pool. Maybe all pool members could have decided to not sell the footage onward to other networks (like Al-Jazeera), but that really opens the question about media collusion with government. We say we don't want media shaping our views of reality; here's an example, that is not in our favor, where we have to stick to the standards we demand.

This, it strikes me, is simply a bad event that happened to get recorded and broadcast.

I think Sites is full of cr... (Below threshold)
jb:

I think Sites is full of crap.

For not imposing guilt or innocence, he sure does make a lot of judgments. That isn't "just the facts, m'am."

It was news to me that there were more bodies and wounded terrorists. It seems to me like that works in the Marine's favor. He didn't shoot all the wounded; he shot one of them. I'd have to assume that the one wounded terrorist did something to arouse the Marine's suspicion, or that he genuinely perceived a threat in the room. What's the alternative? "I think I'll shoot...um...THIS wounded terrorist, just for the hell of it, even though I know it's not right and I could get in BIG trouble for it."

Also, though the wounded and dead had presumably been checked for weapons, that was a presumption; and the mosque hadn't been under US control the whole time, meaning other terrorists could have come in and booby-trapped the bodies or rearmed the wounded.

It would be a lot easier to believe poor ol' Mr. Sites if a) the media (all of the world's media) weren't so hostile to the US mission/troops, and had showed some small amount of balance regarding which footage it chose to show in the past; and/or b) Mr. Sites had previously taped and promoted positive footage of Marines. Maybe he has, but I wouldn't bet on it. I'm guessing his coverage has been as uniformly negative as the coverage braodcast here in the US.

The media coverage makes me sick, if you couldn't tell. The only place where the US lost the Vietnam War was on American TV screens. It drives me nuts when talking heads say, "This could be another Tet!" Guess what people: the US WON the Tet offensive, by any military measure.

I just hope the American people learned the most important lessons of Vietnam: the media cannot be trusted to present anything close to reality; sh*t happens in war, but Americans are the most decent, humane, gentlemanly (to the point of naivete) warriors on the face of the earth; and, the US has the best intentions when fighting wars.

Michael - the choices were:... (Below threshold)
VA Jim:

Michael - the choices were: 1)destroy the tape and nobody knows; 2)turn the tape over to Command and go on about life; 3)sell the tape to the MSM. There were no "sides" until the MSM got the tape.

No matter what else is or was done (including #2) selling the tape to MSM opens up the entire operation to criticism by archair quarterbacks.

It's a fact that there was no need to know about this particular incident. As an action, it's irrelevant to the battle, to the campaign, and to the war.

As a media piece, it's invaluable to our enemies. As a media piece, it's an eternal reminder to your neighbor, your mechanic, your cousin.

There are some things best left unsaid or unseen. The act that produced our birth is probably one good example. It happened and had life-altering consequences. Would an out-of-context grainy video help your "understanding" of it? Even just a couple of seconds? Yukk!

Closeups of war --especially insurgencies-- is another example of something best left unsaid or unseen. Reporting can still go on, but there's too many details, the wrong details, that the MSM obsesses on. Look over Ernie Pyle's writing for positive examples. He pulls no punches, but doesn't hurt individuals or give ammunition to the enemy either.

Sites is not anti-war, but ... (Below threshold)
LJD:

Sites is not anti-war, but this is nothing more than an attept at ratings, to further his career. You can see it in the text of his letter. He is not reporting the actual "facts", rather ONE perspective on something of which he does not have the broad perspective.

Right or wrong, some things need to be left unreported to the general public. He could have passed it on to the chain of command. The one true thing is that he is responsible for putting another black eye on our troops.

Who is out there reporting the "atrocities" perpetrated by the enemy? How come that's not news?

Still working on the commen... (Below threshold)

Still working on the comment screens...

Check out the <a href="http... (Below threshold)
Wes:

Check out the press release from Central Command today:

"Marines from the 1st Marine Division shot and killed an insurgent, who while faking dead, opened fire on the Marines that were conducting a security and clearing patrol through the streets here at approximately 3:45 p.m. on 21 November."

Sites claims to be torn bet... (Below threshold)
Debra:

Sites claims to be torn between what is right and what is wrong here...I don't buy it for a second. All his journalistic BS in type doesn't sway me one damned bit. These marines are in combat and who are we or anybody to sit judge and jury here? These embedded reporters have no business being there in the first place. I don't care if it's CNN/NBC/ABC/CBS and yes..even FOX.
Get them the hell out of there and let the ground troops do their job.
Bibbles coming from his nose huh? I'd of shot the guy too. Our marine did nothing wrong here. Nothing.

"bibbles"ok..Now I'm... (Below threshold)
Debra:

"bibbles"
ok..Now I'm jsut laughing!!!
I assume all who read this know it's actually BUBBLES"
~sorry~

There are facts and there a... (Below threshold)
Todd:

There are facts and there are selective presentations of selected facts. These events did not happen in isolation but, they were presented isolated from the context of the war in Fallujah. Classic media handling all around.

Mr. Sites is afraid. His Claude like response of shock! at how his tape was used is transparently self serving. This member of the detached observer ant farm prodding overlords has found to his surprise that he has poked into a nest of fire ants this time. Our overlords don't get it; Times have changed. Their time is coming to an end.

Sites is conflicted because... (Below threshold)
crazy:

Sites is conflicted because he can't reconcile his multiple positions and responsibilities. Impartial observer, participant, pool reporter, network correspondent, American, citizen of the world, dependent on the Marines for his personal safety, former hostage who talked his way out of captivity by using his "non-partisan" website reports, etc.

Whether he likes it or not his actions are the reason this Marine and US Forces are being investigated and prosecuted in the court of public opinion. Hopefully the Marine investigation will tell us whether other members of the squad felt their fellow Marine violated either the ROE or unwritten code of acceptible conduct in wartime. If he did he will and should be punished accordingly. If not, what does Mr Sites plan to do to undue the damage he will have caused.

Sites can keep playing Hamlet or step up and take responsibility for his own actions as this young Marine has done. In the meantime, he'd be a lot better off if spent more time filming real insurgent atrocities and less time playing part-time soldier and full-time gotcha-man.

Yeah, Sites is full of it!<... (Below threshold)
Tim:

Yeah, Sites is full of it!

How many more atrocities will the terrorists commit and blame Kevin's video? He could have dealt with the situation in a better way. Ok Kevin, you've had your fifteen seconds of fame buddy.

Sites was not honest in his... (Below threshold)
mshyde:

Sites was not honest in his reporting. The way he made his report is dishonest. Without any verification he labeled the suspect as an iraqi. How did he know if the wounded man was iraqi? What are his sources? He labeled the man as unarmed. How did he know the man was unarmed or not wearing a suicide belt? What are his sources? He labeled the man as subdued and a prisoner.
Where is his evidence of the man being subdued. Where is his evidence that the man had been taken as a prisoner? Had marines come in before and 'captured' the man? Was he tied up? Was he bound? Was he chained?
Was there guards posted around him?
In the same amount of time, which was miniscule he made a decision to make this report without any kind of vetting or verification. He knew he had as much chance of being erroneous in his report as being correct, yet it did not bother him of the influence this would have on the war front, the soldiers or the media that ran with this in a feeding frenzy.
As far as I concerned with his actions, he made this report with ill intent. This is not the professional or above board reporting that is expected from a person who is in the business of reporting the news, not making up the news.
He had every right to see this video go into the film pool, but he did not have the right to write up the context without first verifying what he wrote as being absolutely correct. Now if it comes out the man was from Saudi, or maybe Syria, do you suppose Sites will make a public correction?

Oh yeah, to poster #1 Mark.... (Below threshold)
mshyde:

Oh yeah, to poster #1 Mark....

LMAO!

Where is his evidence of... (Below threshold)

Where is his evidence of the man being subdued.

Sites was with a different set of Marines on the previous day, that's how he knew that those particular insurgents had been left there because they were wounded. He attempted to communicate this to the commander, but it didn't make it all the way down the chain to the marine who shot the insurgent.

Things happen in war despite the best intentions of all.

- Whatever else may have be... (Below threshold)

- Whatever else may have been going on at the time everyone might think for a minute to see if you can recall Sites name prior to this "incident"...Try really hard now...

- Any blogger caring too can sign a supportive congressional petition on behalf of the Marine in question here ....

- Now I find out that Debra has "bibbles"....is there no end to the talents and charms of this gal....


Hunter...I know ...I know..... (Below threshold)
Debra:

Hunter...I know ...I know...of all my talents, least of which is typing while pen in right hand and the backspace key so worn you can't see the letters!!!
An "A" for effort at least kind sir? I do my best to keep up with all of you.

It's a petition that I will gladly sign....

In reading Kevin Sites desc... (Below threshold)
Shari:

In reading Kevin Sites descriptions of the event I was amazed at the omniscient qualities of this camera man!
He warns the apparently "stupid" marines that they had lit anti-aircraft rounds with a grenade and he yells to the lieutenant "we need to move," then the rounds cook off.
Next he tells the lieutenant that these are the same guys that he saw yesterday. So is Kevin Sites a nattering little run off at the mouth guy that you stop listening to? Or is he knowingly not telling them about a potential ambush so he can get better footage?
The guy appears to be a leach that gets protection from the troops, but doesn't warn them of potential traps?
The narcissistic all knowing Kevin Sites describes in minute detail the atmosphere and conditions in the mosque. He claims that the terrorist that was shot was not a threat, since Sites is being "protected" by the Marines, I doubt he really knows what to look for in such a situation. Particularly since he knew the five guys were in there before the Marines went in!
I don't buy his excuses why his footage had to be handed off to Al Jezera and other propaganda purveyors. He tries to couch his rationalizations in his "professional journalism ethic," the same ethic that allows a "journalist" to accompany US troops, but refuses to tell them the conditions including possible ambushes or other tactically critical circumstances.
Kevin Sites credibility doesn't hold up in his excuse laden, bragging, monologue.

I don't think Sites is a ba... (Below threshold)

I don't think Sites is a bad guy, he did his job. Whether he or anyone like him should be permitted to do that job is a fair question. Do we need this kind of reporting? It makes the dirty business of war much harder.

Sites clearly sees things through a certain lens, and I don't mean his camera. I think he's trying to be fair, but the same might be said of Dan Rather. I noticed some of the same inconsistencies as the others above. He says he didn't see this man move, yet knew he was alive? yet he says two others were clearly moving. In any case, he doesn't know what that Marine knew, or saw. It seems clear, even to Kevin that the Marine did not know that the Mosque had been swept the day before. I wonder why it even matters. Sites says that weapons were laying around all over. A lot can happen in a day, and armed men could have been in the Mosque, whether the previously injured or otherwise.

I still don't see a crime here. A mistake? Possibly. A crime? Certainly not.

Sites is full of crap. Fir... (Below threshold)
CrankyOldConservative:

Sites is full of crap. First of all, I never trust an explanation that takes days to be stated - it smacks of re-think and re-write. Second, he has no right whatsoever to make it sound like he's there in the trenches with the soldier - if anything he's a burden to them. Finally, unless he's got his scrawny, little fingers wrapped around an M16, and he's stared at the business end of enemy weapons, he has NO idea what that Marine saw or went through at the very instant he sent that guy to meet Allah. As a famous general once said: "War is not for you to die for your cause, but to make sure your enemy dies for his cause. "
Get Sipes and all those embedded reporters of the MSM out of there, and let the Marines do their job.

Sites "apologized" to the M... (Below threshold)
avenuebalum:

Sites "apologized" to the Marines because his ticket to a pulitzer/book/movie deals etc. gets punched by the risks and splitsecond lifeordeath decisions of better men than he will ever be.

A sightseer with a camera is a tourist, whether he's in Paris, Disneyland or Fallujah. Let Sites pick up a rifle and we'll shut up. What bothers me most is that the kid realized he was being filmed and apologized. To the journalist. Sites is not in the chain of command. He served not a second in uniform. He is an audience participant in a deadly theme park and he just complained about the ride. It is dangerous for our Marines to think they are accountable to someone with no military experience. I think the only journalists in the war should be military journalists. They, at least, would know what constitutes a prisoner.

You can either have people ... (Below threshold)
Omni:

You can either have people who are effective killers, or you can have people who, with pure emotional detachment and objectivity, analyze each situation before acting; you can NOT have both in the same person. American soldiers come closer than any others in history, however, and, when they seem to deviate from the impossible, conflicting standards we're applying to them, we need to see that as what it is, an unavoidable side-effect of war, NOT as a reason to condemn the soldiers themselves.

Well, the media played that... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Well, the media played that tape over and over and over again. Yet, no tape of that aid worker being executed by terrorists has been aired. Apparently the media's concern over viewers sensibilities is just another example of their bullsh*t.

I saw unintended irony in t... (Below threshold)
Jumbo:

I saw unintended irony in this passage by Mr. Sites:

" When the smoke clears, I can see through my viewfinder that the fire is burning beside a large pile of anti-aircraft rounds...I yell to the lieutenant that we need to move. Almost immediately after clearing out of the house, small explosions begin as the rounds cook off in the fire."

Gee, what happened to the "I Merely Bear Witness" pontification? Seems that Mr. Sites DOES inject himself and his impressions...when it's his ass at risk.

Yes, Sites was just doing h... (Below threshold)
mrj:

Yes, Sites was just doing his job - - and so much more.
He played up this unremarkable scene in his report despite the known costs to this particular Marine, because he knew it would cause a sensation, sparking indignation in some quarters.
It would serve to buttress his (tiresome) year-of-living-dangerously, hardcore war reporter persona, and underscore the harsh methods of the US against the underdog Iraqis. I have been watching his televised reports during the past year, and many have been long on empathy for enemy belligerants, and short on elaboration on what the Marines and soldiers are going through.
The "context" he provided when releasing the story? "The man did not appear to be armed or dangerous in any way", "I saw no sudden movement or lunging on the part of the wounded insurgent", "There was something about this that just felt wrong". If the poor wounded Iraqi had rolled a grenade out from under himself during that slight movement, that Marine would be dead or wounded.
This isn't a freedom of the press debate. There are other embeds out there who seem able to strike a balance between the timely reporting of war's truths, and not undermining military actions or individual soldiers.
His letter is self-indulgent, self-serving, and raises alot more questions than it answers.
Sen. John McCain and Oliver North also have been speaking out against this reporter the past couple of days.

I'd like to see Kevin Sites... (Below threshold)
Lori Burger:

I'd like to see Kevin Sites get access to tape the actions and conversations of the terrorist beheadings, and then distribute those tapes to the world for public gain. I'm sure they'd protect his ass like the 3.1 Marines. I hope Kevin Sites burns in hell.

Sister of a 3.1 marine who was killed in action the day before by a terrorist in Fallujah.

P.S. I would have shot the bastard, too.

Kevin Sites - self serving ... (Below threshold)
MSM-o-saur:

Kevin Sites - self serving scumbag




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