Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Defending freedom with your conscience

By Edward Copeland
As Dubya prepares to give his big speech tonight announcing plans to make the same mistakes he's made before in Iraq while refusing to admit what a bungle he's made of the mission so far, it seems very appropriate to look at the documentary The Ground Truth. One of the many Iraq-theme documentaries to make the Academy short list this year, The Ground Truth, while essentially a talking head documentary, manages to produce some real power by telling the stories of the "lucky" vets — the ones who have come back from Iraq. Unfortunately, many of them have left things behind. For some, it's a limb, for others it's something invisible — their mind.

The horrors depicted by The Ground Truth as to how the military has treated those suffering psychological trauma caused by what they've seen in Iraq and what they've done. It's just as much an infuriating fuckup as this entire foolish enterprise has proved to be, with troops who admit that they might have post-traumatic stress disorder being kept in country "for treatment."

A particularly awful tale comes from a guilt-ridden Marine trying to deal with his accidental killing of Iraqi civilians. When he shares his tale with a military psychiatrist assigned to help him, she tells him that she can't — she's not allowed to deal with "conscientious objectors."

There also are other stories of how the military often chooses to decide those suffering from mental trauma from their time are suddenly characterized as having personality disorders so the military can shirk their responsibility for their treatment.

They also have tales of the severely injured forced to wheel themselves around military complexes just to complete paperwork and given ridiculous waiting periods for actions to be taken. The Ground Truth isn't the best documentary from 2006 I've seen, but it certainly made me the angriest.

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