Today, perhaps aware this approach is not working, CNN pulled out the old heavy artillery. Enter Gen. Mark Kimmitt.
You can watch Mark Kimmitt "explain" the WikiLeak video on CNN. They don't show enough of the video and CNN patronizes viewers by putting a black box over the scene where the Apache helicopter massacres half a dozen Iraqis including two journalists. I have posted the actual WikiLeaks video on this blog.
Who is Gen Mark Kimmitt?
Gen Mark Kimmitt was Deputy Director for Operations/Chief Military Spokesman for Coalition Forces in Iraq. He is the son of the late Joseph Stanley Kimmitt, a former Col. in Army and a partner in "a Washington, DC, public relations, or lobbyist, firm." Five years ago it was observed that "as Gen. Mark Kimmitt promotes the war in Iraq, his father represents defense contractors such as Textron Defense Systems, Talley Defense Systems, and Boeing (maker of the Army's Apache attack helicopter)." One of Mark Kimmitt's brothers, Joseph, is a former soldier turned "US Senate Appropriations Committee" staffer turned Washington lobbyist. Mark's other brother, Robert, is a decorated military pilot. Robert "received total compensation of more than $3.2 million" in 2003 for serving as Chairman of the International Advisory Council of Time Warner, the parent company of CNN. Of course, CNN is where brother Mark appeared tonight. Concurrently, Robert served on the the National Security Advisory Panel of the CIA. From 2005-2009 Robert, a former managing-director at Lehman Bros., served as United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury under President George W. Bush.
In a nutshell, the Kimmitts are upper-echelon members of Washington's so-called "revolving-door" society. The term refers to the movement of persons "between roles as legislators and regulators and the industries affected by the legislation and regulation" and lobbying companies.
Mark Kimmitt has a history of speaking to the media about various military scandals. In the past, what wisdom has Kimmitt shared with the American public? Jotman investigates.
What did Gen Mark Kimmitt say about Abu Ghraib?
In February 2004, the world learned of a confidential report by the International Committee of the Red Cross that said “military intelligence officers told [us] that in their estimate between 70 percent and 90 percent of the persons deprived of their liberty in Iraq had been arrested by mistake.” Nevertheless, Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt would claim, “If they were innocent, they wouldn’t be at Abu Ghraib.… The number that were released because they were innocent? That number… is zero. Persons are held at Abu Ghraib because they are determined to be security threats, imminent security threats here in [Iraq].” (New York Times, 5/30/2004)
According to the BBC Gen Mark Kimmitt said of Abu Ghraib, "Most of the people in Iraq recognize that was an isolated incident and our investigations continue to demonstrate that it is fairly isolated and not representative of the 135,000 soldiers who are doing the right thing under tough circumstances every day."
What did Gen Mark Kimmitt say about the Iraq wedding party bombing?
In the aftermath of allegations that an Iraq wedding party had been bombed in 2004, BBC reported that Mark Kimmitt "insisted that there was no evidence that US forces had attacked a wedding party during an operation near the Syrian border that left dozens dead." The BBC report continued,
Gen Kimmitt added that following the release of a video apparently showing the bodies of musicians who had earlier been entertaining a group pf people at the site, an "open and honest" investigation had been launched by the US military.The photo above shows men with a baby at the wedding party. It's a capture from the videotape. On Monday 24 May AP reported that "videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended Tuesday night before the planes struck." Photo hat-tip ESWN which has compiled dozens of news reports and photos relating to the wedding party massacre.
"There may have been a celebration going on... (but) to suggest that somehow we had a wedding party going on there is not borne out by the facts on the ground."
What did Gen Mark Kimmitt say about Fallujah?
On March 31, 2004, four American private military contractors -- Blackwater employees -- were ambushed and killed in the city. Mark Kimmitt vowed to hunt down the people responsible. "It will be at a time and a place of our choosing. It will be methodical, it will be precise and it will be overwhelming."
"In response to the killing of the four US citizens, and intense political pressure, the US Marines commenced Operation Vigilant Resolve." Its execution was not flawless. The insurgents had sufficient warning of the pending attack to get out of town, but many Iraqi civilians apparently were not able to evacuate. It is claimed that up to 6,000 civilians were killed throughout the operation. US officials report that "more than half of Fallujah's 39,000 homes were damaged, and about 10,000 of those were destroyed."
George Monbiot of the Guardian, wrote, "... there is hard evidence that white phosphorus was deployed as a weapon against combatants in Falluja. As this column revealed last Tuesday, US infantry officers confessed that they had used it to flush out insurgents." An Italian film, Fallujah the hidden massacre documented "the use of weapons based on white phosphorus and other substances similar to napalm, such as Mark-77, by American forces."
To discuss the video, I think CNN ought to have invited into its Atlanta studio an Iraqi journalist and a veteran Apache helicopter pilot or gunner who has flown in Baghdad -- not someone with Mark Kimmitt's background and track record.
CNN should not be turning to members of Washington's military-industrial-media complex to "explain" anything to the public. More than any video, the continued appearance of such individuals on CNN in the role of "expert" is what really needs explaining.