"In war, the photographer is the silent witness."   

"Who is this? What is happening? And Why?"   

 "To miss the photographers' perspective...is to be deprived of a wholly different sensibility."                                                             "The photographer has a different way of knowing."  

"The war in Iraq was never a static contest between easily identifiable foes, each with his own uniform and flag.  
 It was a constantly shifting battle   of ever --mutating enemies."   
 "The photographers lived and worked in what amounted to a wraparound battlefield."                         
  "It was the intimacy of the violence in Iraq that was uniquely horrifying, and so challenging to record."  

​ "Iraqis generally and insurgents specifically often made no distinction between soldiers and journalists."  
"...the other striking aspect of the Iraq war  was the struggle (for photographers) against official restrictions on their ability to do their work."   
​"But as the war went bad, and photographers and reporters came to rely on the embedding program, the military began to clamp down. The heart of the military's efforts concerned the photographing of dead or wounded soldiers."  


 "But whatever the motivations behind the military's restrictions--to spare the families of the fallen some pain, for instance--their effect was to cast a sanitized gloss over the war in Iraq, and to help deprive the American people of a fuller knowledge of the realities of the war that their fellow citizens were fighting.  In a country whose bedrock principles hold that war can be waged only by consent of the people, such restrictions were troubling indeed."

                                        Dexter Filkins, Forward

Lynsey AddarioMarch 31, 2004 was the day that the Blackwater contractors were killed and set on fire and hung up from the electrical cords. In my eyes that was the turning point of the entire war. I went from being able to move around work with some degree of freedom to this huge spree of kidnappings.  I think that when we were detained or kidnapped, it was the first. Three days after that, the whole country was in flames. All of this frustration with the Americans and foreigners was unleashed."                  ​​.

Ben Brody "I was really only able to photograph when I was pretty sure we were safe, which was incredibly frustrating to me as photographer, but I also took my responsibilities as soldier and as a non-commissioned officer very seriously. I came out with a really strong body of photographs and a story that I was really proud of. As I understand it, not any of the photographs made it out..."  "The closest I've ever been to being killed is when I raised my camera to take a photograph of an American soldier missing his legs during an IED attack...and the staff sargeant...I thought he was going to shoot me. He was enraged."

Nina Berman: " I felt in the beginning of my work on wounded veterans that this was not a subject (American journalism) wanted to cover...."I had an editor say to me, "Nina, your pictures are just too depressing. They don't provide any future. There's no happy ending suggested." That may all be true and it goes back to the role of the media. Yes, the news is a business but you have to balance it or get out of the business....I just can't accept this argument. We can't publish bloody pictures, but we can have the bloodiest, most disgusting, dehumanizing popular culture ever produced by any nation in history?"

Christoph Bangert: " I was embedded quite a lot in Iraq and I always got along with these (American) soldiers very well, because for them I was this weird guy from Germany. They were like, Okay, what are you doing here? This is not your war."  The communication was terrible. There was a huge culture gap between American soldiers and Iraqi citizens. It was just immense. You cannot imagine how huge that gap was. A lot of times the interpreters were terrible. I spoke more Arabic than they spoke English. You could have sent any Western modern army into this situation and it couldn't have worked out, I believe."
Tyler Hicks: "[In the beginning of the war] there was an enormous flood of journalists, photographers, radio, TV, everything. Coverage was very, very strong for a very long time, but interest does wane. The conflict has been going on seven years now--there is burnout on the part  of the public. How many fights can they tolerate watching on TV? Now, the risk of going out and covering these things is just as high as before when it would be widely published. You think to yourself, where is the risk-to-reward-on this? What's the value of this photograph if nobody sees it ?



                The Untold Stories from Iraq
Michael Kamber​   2013      University of Texas Press, Austin

Thank You for Your Service

by David Finkel        Sequel to The Good Soldiers                 2011                                                


At the landing area, other soldiers from other battalions were lined up, and when the helicopter landed, everyone was allowed to board except him. He didn't understand. 

"Next one's your's," he was told, and when it came in a few minutes later, he realized why he'd had to wait. It had a big red cross on the side. It was the helicopter for the injured and the dead. That was him, Adam Schumann.  He was injured. He was dead. He was done.


One day she confided to a friend, whose own husband had also come back ill from the war: "My mood changes every day. One day, it's:  He's really hurting. The next is : Stop this. Get over it. Get your ass up."

"Nothing will get better, " her friend said of what she had learned. "Nothing will be as it was before. Nothing will be the way I want it to be. So I have to come up with reasonable expectations of what can be."

"The women have to be the ones to adapt. That's the way it is for all of us," Saskia said as her friend nodded, and now she is beginning another day of trying to do just that..."

At the hospital now:  They pass through an entrance way lined with survivors of previous wars in wheelchairs and "Proud to Be an American" T-shirts.  They walk down a hallway behind a woman who is giving a tour to two men. "The guys from Vietnam are so expressive, but the new ones, from Iraq and Afghanistan, go straight to violence and suicide," the woman says. "Mm-hmm." one of the men says.  

One of the worst things about Adam's war, the thing that got to everyone, was not having a defined front line. It was a war in 360 degrees, no front to advance toward, no enemy in uniform, no predictable patterns, no relief, and it helped drive some of them crazy. Here though, in this new war of Adam's there is a front line: this hospital. This old, underfunded, understaffed hospital, which nevertheless includes a compassionate receptionist who says she will see what she can do and a doctor who is underpaid and overwhelmed and says that of course he can squeeze Adam in. So in Adam goes, preceded by all of the previous histories dictated about him over these two years, rendered as only doctors and interpreting bureaucrats can.  She is sure she knows what the doctor will say: Adam is ill. Adam needs to stay on his medications. Adam deserves the thanks of a grateful nation.  She is seated near a sign for a suicide hotline that says, "It takes the courage and strength of a warrior to ask for help."


Ding-Dong...When it rang on the day her husband died, she had her two young daughters in the bathtub and cookies baking in the oven. She opened the door and saw who was standing there, and before they could say anything she had finished the quick calculations. An injury would be a phone call. A serious injury would be a visit from soldiers in regular uniforms. Death would be dressier soldiers, in their Class As. These two, asking if they might come in, were in their Class As. "There are few things I have to get done before you say it," she answered. She wanted to remain in control. That was important to her. She went into the kitchen and turned off the oven, knowing that she was about to forget about the cookies. She made a list. She phoned some neighbors and asked them to come over and get the girls. She phoned her mother and asked her to get on the first plane. She made sure the door to the bathroom was shut. Finally, she sat on a couch in the living room, and they stood in front of her and said it.


So how has this taken a toll on your marriage?" a counselor asks Nic a few hours later
as Sascha sits next to him.  "I'm afraid to tell her stuff," Nic says wanting to tell her everything,
breaking down. "I don't want to tell her about the dreams I have. I don't want to tell her about the nightmares I have. I don't want her to know that her husband, the person she married, has nightmares about killing people. It just makes me feel like a monster. 

"The nightmares?" Or that she'll look at you like you're not understood?" the counselor asks. 
"That she'll hate me," Nic says.  "What kind of person has dreams like that?" 

" I don't hate you," Sascha says.
"So do you feel like a monster?" the counselor asks.  

"I feel like a monster," Nic says, turning to Sascha. 
"It's not your fault," the counselor says. "I know it's not my fault,"  Nic says, and then when no one says anything not the counselor or Sascha, he says, crying harder now, "Oh f**k."



Now, as the suicide meeting continues...he goes on, and mentions another possible suicidal
indicator, only recently discovered, that people who enter the army in their
late twenties are three times more likely to kill themselves than those who enter in their early twenties or late teens. "It's just counterintuitive to a lot of folks," he says, "unless you start to unpack it and you say, okay why does a young man or woman decide to join the army at twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old? They're either a tremendous patriot, or they've lost
their job, have a couple of kids, lost their medical care, and are coming in as kind of an opportunity to get their life straight again. They come in with all these stressors, and we say, hey guess what, buddy? You're going downrange in six months." 

Around the table and on video screens, the generals are nodding. 
Now it makes sense and as a result 

they will instruct their brigade commanders, 

who will instruct their battalion commanders, 

who will instruct their company commanders, 

who will instruct their platoon leaders, 

who will instruct their squad leaders and team leaders, 

to pay extra attention to their twenty-eight and twenty-nine year olds who are new to the army.


He has an aide, paid for by the VA, who helps him with his leg brace, his arm braces, his hand brace, his clothing, his shoes that she double-knots, his medications, and his food. Sometimes, when she takes him to lunch in the nearby town, he asks her to dress him in a T-shirt that says "What Have You Done for Your Country? I Took a Bullet in the Head for Mine" on the back, so people who stare at him won't think they're looking at the results of some drunk in a car wreck.  He has a computer he uses to introduce himself to women on dating sites. He is always honest, saying he got injured in the war, and in six months there's been one response, from someone who wrote back, "Thank you for serving our country."


Amanda drew even closer to another platoon member named Matthew Stern, which has turned into
to the most complicated relationship of all. 
"Poor Matt, being one of the ones who tried to save him and now being my friend," Amanda says of him. "It can get very bad. The blame. The guilt."  We've all got or little quirks from deployment" is what Matt says. He was the medic in the platoon, and on the day that he didn't save James, he was twenty years old....
They were traveling at about the same speed a waving neighbor might go through a Kansas subdivision when the explosion came from the right.  He dove to the ground, and as some of the soldiers fired back, he got to James's Humvee, opened his door, felt for a pulse, grabbed him, and pulled him out. "And that's when I saw the full extent of what happened. The one leg missing.  Half his pelvic area was missing. Like three quarters of the other leg. "  Years later, a therapist would tell Matt how James was like a father figure to him,and maybe so, but what Matt had on his mind was that leg, the left one. It was hanging by a piece of skin, nothing else, and Matt couldn't bring himself to cut it.  It wouldn't have made  a difference, but he thinks about it anyway. So the leg hung there while Matt went to work on the rest of James, trying to control the bleeding. "I think I stuffed thirty-three rolls of Kerlix in him," he says and then James was dead and then everyone came home from the war and then he was taking antidepressants for night terrors and depression, and then, as Adam had done, he was meeting James's widow.


Patti is defined by the stress of dealing with the problems of forty-nine wounded soldiers during the day--and then going home at night to the fiftieth. This is her husband, Kevin, who was blown up in Iraq, lost an eye, lost some of his brain, lost most of his hearing, lost his sense of smell, has some facial disfiguration, has a long list of diagnoses, including PTSD and TBI, and among his many surgical scars has one on the back of his head that Patti has affectionately suggested looks like a penis, which may be why he prefers to wear a cap. There are two children at home as well, a young son who at one point seemed so confused by the sight of a fake eye that his father decided to stop wearing it, and a teenage daughter who wanted to dye her hair blue.  Patti said, "Why?" 
"So when we go to Walmart, people will stare at me instead of Daddy," the daughter said.


Adam is far from the first person to sit across from Fred Gusman in these circumstances. In the three years since he left a high-level job at the VA to open Pathway, a few hundred combat vets have been through the program, and every one of them had been as nervous as Adam. " A better quality of life.  That's the main thing.  Over time, you'll figure it out."  "How long you been doing this?" Adam asks.  Fred laughs a little.  "For forever," he says.   "Yeah?" Adam says.  "Since four years after the Vietnam War."   "Oh. That is forever," Adam says.

"There's the Pathway Home," Fred says, turning toward the entrance, and few minutes later, Adam is inside.

(A few months later, Adam's Graduation) "Okay, last but not least," Fred says, [before naming Adam] and for the slightest moment gets uncharacteristically emotional.  Maybe it's because of pressure: he is nearly out of money and had begun making contingency plans to shut down, and then came an unexpected donation of ten thousand dollars in the morning mail, which means he will still be open when fifteen new guys arrive next week.

I spent a lot of time trying to identify the exact point at which I noticed a change in Murph, somehow thinking that if I could figure out where he had begun to slide down the curve of the bell, I could do something about it. ...It's impossible to identify the cause of anything, and I began to see the war as a big joke, for how cruel it was, for how desperately I wanted to measure the particulars of Murph's new, strange behavior and trace it back to one moment, to once cause, to one thing I would not be guilty of. And I realized very suddenly one afternoon while throwing rocks into a bucket in a daze that the joke was in fact on me. Because how can you measure deviation if you don't know the mean? There was no center in the world. The curves of all our bells were cracked. I thought a lot about that ridiculous promise I had made to Murphy's mother. I couldn't even remember what I'd said, or what had been asked for. Bring him home? What, in one piece? At all? I couldn't remember. Would I have failed if he wasn't happy, if he was no longer sane? How the hell could I protect that which I couldn't see, even in myself?   (pp. 155-156)

The rain stopped. The weather mellowed. Our next forty-eight-hour rotation on patrol was uneventful. We were unaware of even our own savagery now; the beatings and the kicked dogs, the searches and the sheer brutality of our presence. Each action was a page in an exercise book performed by rote. I didn't care. I hadn't talked to Murph in days. I found the remnants of his casualty feeder card and the letter and picture from his ex-girlfriend in a laundry bucket, soap and all. I put them in my pocket. I started tailing him, trying to figure out what he was up to. I began to find his mark all over the FOB: Murph was here. At little tag: two eyes and a nose peering over one thin line. Sometimes the fingers over the wall as well, sometimes not, but always the eyes and nose, ridiculous and searching, and the tag Murph was here. There were never any dates, at least not on the half dozen or so I found, but I didn't believe that any of them were older than a week or so.  I couldn't find him anywhere. 

I finally went to (Sgt.) Sterling with my concerns. He laughed. "Some people just can't fucking hack it, Private. You'd better get used to the fact that Murph's a dead man."  And  I tried to laugh off Sterling's comment. "Private, you forget the edge you've got, because the edge is normal now..if you get back to the states in your head before your ass is there too, then you are a fucking dead man...There's only one way home for real, Private. You've got to stay deviant in this motherfucker."
pp. 158-159

I made my way uneasily toward the chapel. The girl was there, the medic. Her eyes were half-lidded. The uniformed backs of two boys blanketed her in the performance of some ancient pantomime, a silent and shuffling attempt at recuperation.One of them looked up at me when I reached them. "I thinks she's dead." he said.  The other one turned around. It was Murph, sitting on his knees with his hands resting on his tights, gape-jawed at the sight of her. I just got here yesterday, the other one said. Murph was silent. He didn't move. "Come on buddy," I said. We've got to get her moved." 
"Murph" I said. "Come on, give us us a hand."  ...Murph curled up helplessly in the still-smoldering ruins of the chapel, muttering to himself, over and over again, "What just happened."  As we walked her up the hill, his litany faded from our ears.  (pp 171-172)

October 2004 Al Tafar, Nineveh Province, Iraq
Murph, gape-jawed and crying, was gone. He left after finding the medic's body in...tall grass..speckled with her blood. He wasn't at her ceremony, where the brigade sergeant major stood her rifle between her boots and rested her small unblemished helmet at the top. He'd already left through a hole in the wire by then, his clothes and disassembled weapon scattered in the dust. He was gone but we didn't know it yet. Nothing told us this night would be different from any other until a few hours later when Sergeant Sterling calmly walked into the middle of our circle and said, "Someone had a big old bowl of dumbass today. Get your shit together...Let's go get him."  

The city, past curfew, seemed vast and catacombed, its black alleys a tightly wound maze.  Nothing was certain. Plans seemed ridiculous, as did effort. We were tired, and it seemed that we finally knew how tired we were. Eventually, a man emerged with hands raised high from a doorway...twenty rifles paused on him at once.  "Mister, mister, don't shoot, mister," he pleaded.  His fear was obvious as he stood there shaking. " I see the boy," he said. We bound him and sat him on the ground against the block wall of his home and called for a
translator, who arrived masked in a black hood with holes cut our for his eyes and mouth. The translator had his knees on the man's thighs....Where is he?  What do you know? 

The man had stopped to buy some apricot halawa...He and his friend the shopkeeper were talking of the heat and family and the occupation...the shopkeeper went stiff and pale, eyes wide...he turned around very slowly. From the train tracks that edged the outpost, a foreign boy walked naked, his shape lacking all color except where his hands and face were tanned to a deep brown by the sun. He walked as a ghost, his feet and legs bleeding from his walk through the wire and detritus. The man looked at us...his face pleaded as though we could unlock some riddle for him. "Mister, why the boy walk naked? "as if we knew and were keeping it from him out of cruelty. Murph {had }shuffled his feet at them, and swayed gently from side to side, his body flecked in sweat. He showed no awareness of their presence. They had attempted to break Murph's trance, screamed and pleaded with him to return to the outpost. 

When they last saw him, the bleeding boy {had} approached the beggar. Spotlit against the wall of an old crumbling hovel, the old man grabbed Murph by the hand an led him into the dark. The man looked to the interpreter and then to us. "They go down the alley...gone."  
We cut him free of his bindings, then turned northwest toward the circle.  pp. 193-197   

The Yellow Birds 

  A Novel   

  Kevin Powers                       
  2012  Little, Brown and Company

Breach of Trust 
How Americans Failed Their Soldiers and Their County  
 By Andrew Bacevich

Excerpts from Part One

When war claim's a soldier's life, what does that death signify? Almost reflexively, Americans want to believe that those making the supreme sacrifice thereby advance the cause of freedom.  Since freedom by common consent qualifies as the ultimate American value, death ennobles the fallen soldier. Yet sometimes nobility is difficult to discern and the significance of a particular death proves elusive.   (Prologue)

"We're at war," President Bush told his vice president on the morning of the attacks, and "someone's going to pay."  What soon became clear was that the president's definition of someone did not include the citizens of the United States. P. 31

Within a matter of months, although nominally "at war," the nation began behaving as if it were "at peace." Americans had by then settled on three first-person-plural axioms to describe the unofficial but inviolable parameters of their prospective wartime role.  

First we will not change. Second, we will not pay. Third, we will not bleed.  

As long as it abided by these proscriptions, Washington could pretty much make war whenever, wherever, and however it wanted, assured of at least tepid consent.   p. 31

More accurately, the 9/11 attacks intensified a struggle that had been ongoing for decades.  At issue most immediately was the fate of a specific region: who would determine the future of the oil-rich, strategically critical Greater Middle East? At issue in a broader sense were expectations, widely entertained in Washington following the Cold War, of an ongoing open-ended American Century--an extended period of unquestioned primacy....    p. 33   

Outsourcing war's conduct to a small warrior class--less than 1 percent of the total population--evoked occasional twinges of discomfort. Could such an approach to warfighting comport with authentic democratic principles?  Obliging as-yet unborn generations to foot the bill for wars in which they had no voice elicited similar expressions of concern...but no real action.    p. 35

In their disgust over Vietnam, Americans...disengaged from war, with few observers giving serious consideration to the implications of doing so.  Events since, especially events since 9/11, have made those implications manifest. In the United States, war no longer qualifies in any meaningful sense as the people's business. In military matters, Americans have largely forfeited their say.   p. 40

...Washington's penchant for war has appreciably increased, without, however, any corresponding improvement in the ability of political and military leaders to conclude its wars either promptly or successfully.  A further result less appreciated but with even larger implications, has been to accelerate the erosion of the traditional concept of democratic citizenship.   p. 41

As to war, Americans can no more claim innocence than they can regarding the effects of smoking or excessive drinking.  As much as or more than Big Government or Big Business, popular attitudes toward war, combing detachment, neglect, and inattention, helped create the crisis in which the United States is mired.   p. 40

The choice Americans face today ends up being as straightforward as it is stark. If they believe war essential to preserving their freedom, it's incumbent upon them to prosecute war with the same seriousness their forbears demonstrated in the 1940s. Washington's war would then truly become America's war with all that implies in terms of commitment and priorities.     p. 44

Joao Silva

Nina Berman



                                                                                                                1995 LITTLE, BROWN & COMPANY

    ​"What is PTSD?"
    Post-traumatic stress disorder is described by the American Psychological Associations' as a "reaction to a psychologically traumatic event outside the range of normal experience." Manifestations of PTSD include recurrent and intrusive dreams and recollections of the experience, emotional blunting, social withdrawal, exceptional difficulty or reluctance in initiating or maintaining intimate relationships, and sleep disturbances. These symptoms can in turn lead to serious difficulties in re-adjusting to civilian life, resulting in alcoholism, divorce and unemployment. The symptoms persist for months or years after the trauma, often emerging after a long delay. Estimates of the number of Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD range from somewhere between 18 nd 54 percent of the the 2.8 million military personnel who served in Vietnam.

    How Does PTSD Relate to Killing? Stellman and Stellman found that the victims of PTSD are almost solely veterans who participated in high-intensity combat situations (they may not have killed, but they were there in the midst of the killing, and they were confronted daily with the results of their contributions to the war.) p. 285

    Soldiers  who were in noncombat situations in Vietnam were found to be statistically indistinguishable from those who spent their entire enlistment in the United States. During the Vietnam era millions of American adolescents were conditioned to engage in acts against which they had a powerful resistance. This conditioning is a necessary part of allowing a soldier to succeed and survive in the environment where society has placed him.  Success in war and national survival may necesessitate killing enemy soldiers in battle.  If we accept that we need an army, then we must accept that it has to be as capable of surviving as we can make it.

    But if society prepares a soldier to overcome his resistance to killing and places him in an environment in which he will kill, then that society has an obligation to deal forthrightly, intelligently, and morally with the psychological event and its repercussions upon the soldier and the society.  Largely through an ignorance of the processes and implications involved, this has not happened with the Vietnam veteran.  p.264

    At the national strategic level, a recognition of the potential social cost of modern warfare has been obtained at a terrible price and a form of moral and philosophical guidance gained from this experience can be found in the Weinberger doctrine....named after Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense for President Reagan. The doctrine represents an initial attempt to form the kind of moral direction and philosophical guidance that can be built upon the lesson of Vietnam. p.264

    ​The Weinberger doctrine states that:
    "The United States should not commit forces to combat unless our vital interests are at stake.
    We must commit them in sufficient numbers and with sufficient support to win.
    We must have clearly defined political and military objectives.
    We must never again commit forces to a war we do not intend to win.
    Before the United states commits forces abroad, the U.S. Government should have some reasonable assurance of the support of the American people and their elected representatives in the Congress...
    ​U.S. troops cannot be asked to fight a battle with the Congress at at home while attempting to win a war overseas.
    Nor will the American people sit by and watch U.S. troops committed as expendable pawns on some grand diplomatic chessboard."


​Di Lauro

Carolyn Cole.

Patrick Baz

Joao Silva

Eugene Richards

Chris Hondros​