Saturday, August 6, 2011

OP/ED: Helicopter Crash in Eastern Afghanistan; Details not yet clear

The header here IS the header I used on an earlier post over at War On Terror News here.

In that post I included a press release from ISAF:

ISAF Joint Command - Afghanistan
For Immediate Release

KABUL, Afghanistan (Aug. 6, 2011) – An International Security Assistance Force helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan today, and recovery operations are underway.

ISAF is still in the process of assessing the circumstances to determine the facts of the incident, reporting indicates there was enemy activity in the area.

Additional details will be released as appropriate.

This statement was issued over eight hours ago - and yes, I caught it about then. I chose to sit on the story, because as far as I am concerned, nothing would have been served by sharing at that instant.

Yes, like most journalists I love to be first with any story. However, in this case, my usual question of "Who does it serve" by my rushing to 'print' was answered in short order by: 'NOBODY!

Not all media outlets displayed such reticence. A certain 'milblogger/photojournalist/author' had the news on his site within 30 minutes with the comment "This is serious.' No s***, Sherlock! This particular milblogger counts many stateside military families among his 'fans,' and I am sure - from the few comments I saw - that many of them spent/are spending many very anxious hours wondering if they will get that dreaded knock on the door.

The milblogger mentioned above did link to a msm report, and yes, since the early hours of this morning the msm has been rife with speculation about this tragedy.

Truth is, we do NOT have all the facts. Yes, we know we have a helicopter down in eastern Afghanistan, and yes we know that the Taleban is claiming responsibility. We are also hearing numbers that vary from 25 - 31 lives lost. That is ALL we know, at this time, about what happened in Wardak. Truth is, we may never know all the facts, and we may not 'need to know' them all, ever. We already know enough to know that today all of us are mourning the loss of these fallen heroes, and we are grieving with their families.

One of my questions is: how long is our msm going to keep acting as the media mouthpiece for the Taleban? It is well known that the Taleban gleefully claims responsibility for such loss of coalition troops' lives. It is also common knowledge that the Taleban is prone to exaggeration. So reporting ANYthing they say, just fuels the Taleban propaganda machine.

It has often been asked whose side the msm is on in this Global War on Terror. It would be hard to believe that they are on the side of our troops, since they consistently ignore the day to day great things our troops do - leave those unreported - but are always quick to jump on any negatives, and especially rush to report and speculate on tragedies such as this, before the facts are in. (I should note, in all fairness, that apparently Fox News is sticking to the few known facts in their tv reporting. )

I have written in the past about this msm propensity to rush to air/print with speculation and non-fact based hyperbole. (If you missed it the first time, go read this for my take on the disrespect the msm displays to our military and their families.)

Right now there are military families either waiting for that knock on the door, or already grasping the devastating news they have just heard.

WHO does it serve for any media to fill the airwaves with speculative 'news' items before any investigation is complete? It sure as hell doesn't serve ANY in our extended military community, and that's where I get royally ticked. The reverberations from events such as this already echo through the military families at super speed. The loved ones do not need to be exposed to 'reports' that add to their grief.

The ISAF statement above ends with: Additional details will be released as appropriate.

"As appropriate." It is my opinion that it is totally INappropriate for any of us to speculate before facts are released. What IS appropriate are expressions of support, like this from the Secretary General of NATO:

06 Aug. 2011

Secretary General's statement on helicopter tragedy in Afghanistan

I am deeply saddened by the death of US service members and Afghan soldiers in today's helicopter incident. My thoughts and condolences are with their families and loved ones.

In this tragic moment I would like to stress NATO's strong solidarity with the American and the Afghan people as well as with their respective Governments.

Brave and committed men and women from 48 countries are working along side their Afghan counterparts, to make Afghanistan a peaceful and stable country. We honour their sacrifices.

We are determined to stay the course, especially in this crucial period when Afghan and international security forces are working closer than ever to make transition a success.

Also appropriate is the statement released by the White House:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) -- U.S. President Barack Obama on Saturday morning released the following statement after a NATO helicopter crash in eastern Afghanistan killed 31 Americans and 7 Afghan soldiers.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the Americans who were lost earlier today in Afghanistan. Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan. We will draw inspiration from their lives, and continue the work of securing our country and standing up for the values that they embodied. We also mourn the Afghans who died alongside our troops in pursuit of a more peaceful and hopeful future for their country. At this difficult hour, all Americans are united in support of our men and women in uniform who serve so that we can live in freedom and security." ( I couldn't find this on the White House site itself, but did find it here.)

Taking his words at their face value, I have to agree with this statement, which has been released in a timely, and appropriate, manner.

As BHO's statement says: Their deaths are a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices made by the men and women of our military and their families, including all who have served in Afghanistan.

Yes, these are the men and women who, when asked the question "Who shall I send, and who will go for us?" without hesitation immediately respond: "Send me."

As the facts remain murky, the msm needs to shut up, or stick to reporting the bare facts as released by the military investigators. Period. All our thoughts and prayers must be focused on these fallen heroes and their families, in quiet gratitude, support and respect.

America, I sadly stand up next to you.

[Check out an appropriate journalist/blogger response to this tragedy here]

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