Dead photog left embed over this image

Chris Hondros, the award-winning photojournalist from Getty Images who was killed yesterday from brain injuries he sustained in a mortar attack in Libya, left his Iraq embed with a unit in the 25th Infantry Division in 2005 after publishing this photo. The image, of a little blood-spattered girl whose parents were killed by U.S forces at a security checkpoint, was taken while Hondros was traveling with the unit in Tel Afar. According to a New York Times retrospective of  war photography, he was booted from the embed shortly afterwards, but in an interview with Editor & Publisher, he said he left on his own accord, after Getty had tangled with the military over the pictures.

“Even if I had not sent those photos, I would have left that embed,” he says. “The incident had been a high stress one, and it didn’t start me out on a good footing with these particular soldiers. It’s impossible to be operating under hostility in an embedded situation.”

I was roundly mocked a couple weeks ago for my personal take on the power of images in war and the military’s post-Vietnam determination to suppress it. The detachment of today’s society from the war and the easy, breezy way we’ve waved goodbye (prematurely) to Iraq in our collective rear-view, has as much to do with the sterile way we have perceived the war (thanks to censorship and message management) as it has with willful ignorance or the fact that less than 1 percent of the population has been doing the fighting and now believes they “own” the war and our conception of it. More images like these might have at least jolted the rest of us out of our Soma holidays long enough to question the policies that led to this girl and her five brothers and sisters being orphaned in a brutal instant, which we now know, thanks to “rogues” like WikiLeaks, happened more than the U.S military was ever willing to admit.


23 thoughts on “Dead photog left embed over this image”

  1. That photag is one of the Iraq/Bush genocide legacy favorites. Look at it and see what 'we' have done. Look at it and see what we have become. These United States of America is punch-drunk and brain-dead. Morally, we are gone the way of the red tennis shoe. Soulless and without mercy or pity.
    The Afghaniscam rages on, Iraq grinds on, and now oh yeah, to the 'shores of Tripoli'.
    Goddamn the wars pusher man!

  2. Kelley –

    I didn't think your earlier article was worthy of mockery, and I'm sorry you got that reception. It is a sad thing indeed when such an obvious and powerful truth is rejected and ridiculed. The response to which you link is a shame to the conscience of the writer. Someone of that ilk, damning with faint praise only in order to discredit, is beyond all shame, having his moral conscience seared by his need to justify his unconscionable aggression. Thanks for your work. I always find it thoughtful and enlightening, and frequently duly disturbing.

  3. Kelley:

    Yes, that is the iconic image of the US nastiness in Iraq. The sad thing is that when the photo first appeared, with the report on the murders, I sent it to many friends, and they all, in various ways, denied that our troops could ever do such a thing.
    I want to thank you for that great article you posted here on End Times & Fear. It made me think of Hilaire Belloc's great essay on The Decline of a State. Here is an excerpt:

    Of Fear in the decline of a State it may be said that it is so much the master passion of such decline as to eat up all others. …This vice has for its most laughable effect the raising of a whole host of phantoms, and when a State is so far gone that civic Fear is quite normal to the citizens, then you will find them blenching with terror at a piece of print, a whispered accusation. Bankruptcy, though they be possessed of nothing, and even the ill-will of women. Moneylenders under this influence have the greatest power, next after them, blackmailers of all kinds, and next after these eccentrics who may blurt or break out….

  4. No matter how you slice it the military is an evil and vile thing. I notice even people who write against the violence of war cannot help but caveat about our noble military and how noble they are. They are not. During WWII it was found that many American soldiers shot over the heads of the enemy not having the desire to kill so today’s military having learned from the past now does its level best to rid its minions of any such reservations about killing. Today’s soldiers are psychotic murderers not only because of the violent American culture that gave them birth but because they are made to be that way by today’s military. The results of this monster making will be with us a long time and will reveal itself in many different aspects much to everyone’s sorrow.

  5. My favorite quote-

    "He who joyfully marches to music rank and file, has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would surely suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, how violently I hate all this, how despicable and ignoble war is; I would rather be torn to shreds than be a part of so base an action. It is my conviction that killing under the cloak of war is nothing but an act of murder."

    –Albert Einstein

  6. I look forward to the day Iraqis revenge the crimes comitted against their parents and country such as the one in this picture. I even hope that the revenge will be far more brutal !

    From a man who once pinned some hope on America !

  7. Of the 1 percent who'own' that war less than 10 percent actually have to fight it. The greater part of all vets do their 'service' well out of the line of fire. But it's the 'willingness' that counts and the claim to be 'honoring' the sacrifice of the dead.

    Thus has it ever been about wars, those who know better aren't heard in the din of drums, the blatt of bugles and the foghorning of self-declared 'heroes'.

  8. It is VITAL that you continue to write about the horrors of war and that we ALL demand true coverage, including such images, of those horrors.

    But I know that Corporate Media, as THE propaganda arm of the Corporatist-Militarist Ruling Class, will never allow such images to become widespread in the U.S. And, even if they did, somehow I fear that too many USans would simply shrug, sigh, then go on with what they were doing.

  9. Take the message to places where they don’t want to hear it.

    Shove it in their fat, faces until they choke on it.

  10. These soldiers I have dubbed “The Children of Reagan”, having been born since 1980, raised on a diet of militaristic glorification and contempt for human life. They have grown up as monsters, grunting like apes as they gun down human beings with as much compassion as a lawnmower has for the grass.

    These are the results of thirty years of GOP politics, America. Are you proud of your fruit?

  11. For the many among us who would ignore and deny, and heap praises on vainglorious war:
    " 'Tis sin by silence when they should protest that makes cowards of men." ~ Abraham Lincoln

  12. War is a terrible, terrible thing and I for one wish the American people had a better understanding of what our military is being asked to do. Nevertheless, in almost 20 years of serving as an AF officer and trying to make sense of this, I don't think I have EVER heard ANYONE present a viable alternative that would actually work in a violent, unpredictable world. I take no pleasure in repeating it, but "War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.” (J.S. Mill)

  13. The most hypocritical and oddest thing of all is that an alleged progressive forum (i.e. DU), has the audacity to delete posts that reference this website?

  14. Of the 1 percent who'own' that war less than 10 percent actually have to fight it. The greater part of all vets do their 'service' well out of the line of fire. But it's the 'willingness' that counts and the claim to be 'honoring' the sacrifice of the dead.
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