Videos of Iraq killings disgrace Web site
An Internet Web site is displaying videotapes of death scenes from the war in Iraq.
TELEVISION brought the Vietnam War into Americans' living rooms, but those disturbing scenes pale in comparison to the horrifying killings in Iraq shown on the Internet's most popular site for amateur video.
The San Mateo, Calif.-based YouTube.com Web site appears to be allowing itself to be used as an unfiltered tool for Iraqi insurgents to intimidate the American public, and it should be ashamed. The categorizing of some clips under the labels "entertainment" and "comedy" is despicable.
YouTube.com was launched last December, and soon began showing footage of dead bodies being carried through rubble from the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah. Scenes of bombs hitting targets in Lebanon found a niche on the new Web site.
Raw videos of sniper attacks on U.S. troops, suicide bombings, people being blown up and the bloody aftermath in Iraq have been shown in recent weeks. The Pentagon has banned "photographing or filming detainees or human casualties" or posting such scenes electronically, but the source of the videos can be hard to trace.
Eben Kaplan, assistant editor of the Council on Foreign Relations' Web site, says most of the videos "have insignia of Iraqi insurgent groups," and some are likely to have been reposted from relatively obscure jihadist Web sites. Kaplan told the Star-Bulletin's Christine Donnelly that insurgents in Iraq are using the Internet to attract recruits and funding, gain sympathy and demoralize American soldiers and civilians.
"YouTube is providing a valuable service for people around the world to share what is really happening in their regions, including the Middle East," marketing director Julie Supan told the Washington Post in July. "Video allows people to have an immediate and intimate understanding of events that are taking place and the impact of these actions."
The problem is that this brand of uncontrolled citizen journalism is presented out of context. The Internet is uncensored and should remain so, but the viewing of atrocities as entertainment is a sad commentary both on viewers and on the enabling Web site.
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