By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
11. I Now Know Why They Hate Us. On December 10, Independent correspondent Robert Fisk filed this account of being nearly killed by a group of Afghan refugees. “Young men broke my glasses and began smashing stones into my face and head. I couldn’t see for the blood pouring down my forehead and swamping my eyes. And even then, I understood. I couldn’t blame them for what they were doing. In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.” And you thought you were a guilty liberal.
12. Live on Tape. Back in the Zapruder days, when TV dreamed of instant replays and we never suspected that LBJ had the tape machine running, events only happened once — blink and you’d miss them. Now we’ve been spoiled. If something’s not recorded and infinitely re-watchable, it never happened. I mean, after seeing all those shots of that 767 crashing into the World Trade Center — with a surreal hyperclarity worthy of J.G. Ballard — it’s hard to believe a plane actually hit the Pentagon. If it really did, shouldn’t someone have taped the jet angling down over the Potomac? Shouldn’t we have seen the moment of contact? What about shots of Chandra Levy sneaking out of Gary Condit’s building? And don’t they have security cameras outside Vitello’s in Studio City?
For tapeworms, the War on Terror has proved a bonanza, with those hidden-camera exposés of Taliban cruelty, al Jazeera’s gleefully ghoulish footage of bombed Afghan civilians, and Osama’s basement tapes — especially that recent jolly party where he cackled and praised Allah’s bounty for the September 11 massacre. Of course, for those of us who feel entitled to see everything, the most serendipitous tape of all may have been the one from Mazar-e-Sharif, which brought together Taliban acolyte John Walker Lindh and Johnny Michael Spann, the CIA agent who would soon be killed in the bloody Qala Jangi prison uprising. These are the two extremes of American involvement in the war, and it’s no surprise that CBS and ABC paid 80 grand to broadcast it endlessly.
Watching the longhaired Walker, hands bound behind him, being interrogated by Spann and an agent known only as “Dave” — Spann asks civil questions, while his Company sidekick says, “He can die here if he wants. Or he’s going to be fucking spending the rest of his fucking short life in prison” — you’re reminded that real-life CIA guys are not exactly Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. But they do run the good cop/bad cop routine they learned from a thousand cop shows. Walker plays his part, too. He just keeps kneeling there silently, all soulful and wounded like the hero of some thriller, which is probably what he thinks he is. In this, all three are just like the rest of us — shaped more than they know by the stories they’ve chosen to watch.