This is a repost from January 20, 2005.
Here we are two years later and I wonder what became of the principals.
The links are still active last time I checked.
The image of the little girl is too heartbreaking for me to post. I can't look at it more than a moment. The bitterly understated "appears unhappy" and "seems upset" and "I'm sure she will get over it..." sum up the situation well.
I want to believe this kind of "mistake" is rare. But for an orphaned child, whether or not the loss of parents is mathematically "rare" has no meaning.
No meaning at all.
In the words of Radley Balko...
This little girl had no reason to hate the United States. Now she has two. So does everyone who knows her, and everyone who has anything in common with her.
On the evening of Jan. 18, as we made our way up a broad boulevard, in the distance I could see car making its way toward us. As a defense against potential car-bombs, it is now standard practice for foot patrols to stop oncoming vehicles, particularly after dark.
"We have a car coming," someone called out as we entered an intersection. We could see the car about a 100 meters away. The car continued coming; I couldn't see it anymore from my perch but could hear its engine now, a high whine that sounded more like acceleration than slowing down. It was maybe 50 yards away now.
"Stop that car!" someone shouted out, seemingly simultaneously with someone firing what sounded like warning shots -- a staccato, measured burst. The car continued coming. And then, perhaps less than a second later, a cacophony of fire, shots rattling off in a chaotic, overlapping din. The car entered the intersection on its momentum and still shots were penetrating it and slicing it. Finally, the shooting stopped, the car drifted listlessly, clearly no longer being steered, and came to a rest on a curb. Soldiers began to approach it warily.
The sound of children crying came from the car. I walked up to the car and a teenaged girl with her head covered emerged from the back, wailing and gesturing wildly. After her came a boy, tumbling onto the ground from the seat, already leaving a pool of blood.
"Civilians!" someone shouted, and soldiers ran up. More children -- it ended up being six all told -- started emerging, crying, their faces mottled with blood in long streaks. The troops carried them all off to a nearby sidewalk.
It was by now almost completely dark. There, working only by lights mounted on ends of their rifles, an Army medic began assessing the children's injuries, running his hands up and down their bodies, looking for wounds. Incredibly, the only injuries were a girl with a cut hand and a boy with a superficial gash in the small of his back that was bleeding heavily but wasn't life-threatening. The medic immediately began to bind it, while the boy crouched against a wall.
From the sidewalk I could see into the bullet-mottled windshield more clearly. The driver of the car, a man, was penetrated by so many bullets that his skull had collapsed, leaving his body grotesquely disfigured. A woman also lay dead in the front, still covered in her Muslim clothing and harder to see.
Meanwhile, the children continued to wail and scream, huddled against a wall, sandwiched between soldiers either binding their wounds or trying to comfort them. The Army's translator later told me that this was a Turkoman family and that the teenaged girl kept shouting, "Why did they shoot us? We have no weapons! We were just going home!"
I don't know how to write any comment.
Thanks to Mark
Doc Searls comments:
Ever since the election, when a majority of my fellow voters gave President Bush another four years, I've kept quiet about this war.
But sometimes the heart will not be silent. This is one of those times.
I know pictures like this serve as propaganda for the enemy, which has no remorse about routinely doing worse than what these American soldiers will regret terribly for the rest of their lives.
We can debate strategy for the duration. Meanwhile, we have this, and countless other tragedies like it. Blame who you will; it won't make this little girl one bit happier. It won't bring back her parents, who lost their lives for... what?
I don't have an answer. If you do, tell it to that girl.
All I can do is share what this picture means to me: That war at its best is a lesser evil; and that it is no less important to face the evils we commit as it is to fight the evils we oppose.