Today, I sit in numbed horror as more carnage
unfolds. Hundreds of massive missiles have rained down on a city
far away, killing indiscriminately among the young, the infirm,
the old and the innocent. My government did this. My nation did
this. My leaders did this. Today, I am the terrorist. So are you?
The city of Baghdad, founded in 762 A.D. under the name Madinat
as-Salam City of Peace is this day a lake of fire. The opening
stage of the Bush administration’s Shock and Awe attack plan began
as night fell on Iraq, and lived terribly up to its terrible name.
CBS news is reporting that great swaths of residential
neighborhoods within Baghdad have been engulfed in flames. One can
trust, perhaps, the ability of a cruise missile to hit a bullseye
from many miles away. One cannot be so precise in predicting which
way the resulting fires will blow.
In the great earthquake in San Francisco in 1906, people were not
killed so much by the shaking. They were killed by the firestorm
that sucked the air from their lungs and reduced them to ash
before they could flee. So it seems to be today in Baghdad.
Baghdad is a city of five million people, half of whom are under
the age of fifteen, most of whom are too poor to flee. Now, a
great many of those people are dead, burned in their homes and on
The American television media provided all of us with a
Dresden-eye view of the attack. Huge mushroom clouds bloomed from
the streets as buildings blazed and fell. The thunder of the
explosions was so loud that television speakers became distorted
with the sound of the concussion. The sky lit up as though the sun
was rising. It was a fitting image, for a new day in world history
Much has been made of the precision of our vaunted arsenal of
bombs and missiles, as if they can go into a building and find the
second door on the left before they explode. The truth is far more
dire. When a B-2 bomber drops a 2,000 lb. JDAM munition, everyone
and everything within a 120 meter radius is instantly killed.
Anyone within a 365 meter radius risks severe shrapnel wounds. To
be totally safe, one must be 1,000 meters away from the epicentre
of the explosion. Imagine how many homes can fit into 1,000
meters, and never mind the firestorm.
American Marines have died securing petroleum facilities, and in a
helicopter crash. If Iraqi forces do not surrender soon, American
forces will attack Baghdad from the ground. The loss of life among
our people will grow exponentially if a Stalingrad-style fight
unfolds in Baghdad and Tikrit. On Tom Brokaw’s CBS News broadcast,
the father of one of the soldiers killed in the helicopter crash
held a picture of his son to the camera and shouted, Take a look,
Bush. You killed my only son.
Those who stand against this attack are dunned as Not supporting
the troops. One might suggest the best way to support troops is to
see them brought home safely. One might also suggest that support
continues after the shooting stops. This does not appear to be on
the agenda for the Republican Party. A vote along party lines
today in the House Budget Committee slashed $9.7 billion from
veterans disability compensation programmes, as well as from other
programmes. These cuts, pushed through the committee by the
majority-holding Republicans, are part of the plan to see Bush’s
new $1.57 trillion tax cut through. Wave that flag, George.
Defense Secretary Don Rumsfeld, when asked by a reporter whether
the Iraqi people would cheer Americans after this attack, stated
that Baghdad’s civilians would welcome us. This defies known
history in Japan and Germany and Vietnam; those populations, after
absorbing saturation bombing, hardened their resistance. American
television purported to show Iraqi civilians cheering a soldier
who tore down a picture of Hussein, but a Sky News reporter
walking Baghdad’s streets reported that, to a man, everyone he
spoke with spat hatred and derision for this American attack.
On September 11, I sat in numb horror as the images of carnage
unfolded before me on the television. On that day, I was the
victim of terrorism, along with every other American. Today, I sit
in numbed horror as more carnage unfolds. Hundreds of massive
missiles have rained down on a city far away, killing
indiscriminately among the young, the infirm, the old and the
innocent. My government did this. My nation did this. My leaders
did this. Today, I am the terrorist.
So are you.
There is no justification for this attack. Saddam Hussein and his
forces had been effectively disarmed by the first Gulf War, by the
UNSCOM inspections, and by the more recent UNMOVIC inspections.
According to Hussein Kamel, son-in-law to Saddam Hussein whose
comments to the UN in 1991 were recently reported in a buried
Newsweek story, Iraq was pretty much disarmed of mass destruction
weapons even before the first war. The Bush administration, in
pushing for this war, has foisted lie after lie after lie upon the
American people and the world. The world didn’t buy it, but they
weren’t dependent upon lapdog media sources like ours for their
We are the terrorists now, stupid under-informed terrorists who
dance to the tune of a corporate media machine that will profit
wildly from this attack. NBC, MSNBC and CNBC are owned by General
Electric, one of the largest defence contractors on earth. They
will be paid handsomely in military contracts because of this, as
they always have been. Yet GE gives us the news we need to
understand what is happening.
Americans are not often afforded the opportunity to witness a war
crime live on television. Today’s actions bring to mind a war
crime from a generation ago: The shooting of a prisoner by
Vietnamese General and American ally Nguyen Ngoc Loan. General
Loan put a pistol to the head of this bound prisoner and blew his
brains into the street, an image that millions of Americans saw
after it had taken place. We are here again today. The poverty of
the Iraqi people leaves them bound, unable to escape the wave of
steel. We have blown their brains out. We have incinerated them in
place. We will continue to do so, and you can watch it from your
couch. Today, you are the terrorist.
So am I.
William Rivers Pitt is a New York Times bestselling author of two
books War On Iraq (with Scott Ritter) and The Greatest Sedition is
Silence, available in May 2003 from Pluto Press. Scott Lowery
contributed research to this report.