Assange on Colbert

Keeping the ball rolling, here’s Stephen Colbert’s interview with WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Julian Assange
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Fox News

36 Responses to “Assange on Colbert”

  1. Craig Says:

    Here is a blog with some information regarding the unedited version, as well as some additional comments and some context from someone who is alledgedly the spouse of one of the military investigators.

    I have no idea just who is right or wrong regarding this one incident (or, because of the whole “fog of war” influence, who is mostly right, or partly right, or whatever ratio you want to suggest). I do know that war, by nature, is a messy thing. Even more so in an urban environment. That doesn’t excuse anyone from mistakes. It’s just a statement of fact of the realities of the situation. There were also hundreds, and at one time, thousands, of somewhat similar scenarios happening in Iraq every day, in which soldiers have had to make life-or-death decisions regarding engagement with deadly force.

    The thing I like about such “leaks” is that it keeps our military on its toes regarding the potential repercussions of ever acting outside of strict rules of engagement, and serves as somewhat of a counterbalance. The thing I dislike about such “leaks” is that it tends to be used by some people to create a narrative that our military is a reckless, immoral force, with no care for innocent human life.

    I don’t pretend to know the full context of what happens on the ground during war. No doubt there are unknown actions taken that would shock me in terms of how our military has mistakenly (or even too cavalierly) shot and killed people who weren’t combatants. Conversely, there are scenarios in which coalition soldiers have been killed in savage and deceitful ways that would shock many who don’t believe that enemy forces or “innocents” would do such a thing.

    I have been mocked for mentioning this before, but the son of a close family friend was nearly killed in Iraq (about three years ago) by a female passerby while on patrol. She pointed a gun at his head as he passed by, standing through the roof of a humvee. If her gun’s firing pin wasn’t defective, he may not be alive today.

    I’ve pasted this link, not because it necessarily conveys the real “truth”, but just as some added info for those who may be interested in assessing a full perspective on the incident.

  2. knarlyknight Says:

    Craig, you’re enititled to your opinions and I have some respect for them even though I mostly disagree. However, I’ll limit my criticism to your phrase about the military’s “strict rules of engagement.” That certainly sounds impressive and nicely mirrors the official line.

    However, the reports of soldiers returning from Iraq indicate that the ROE were everything except strict. Terms like “strict rules of engagement” are calculated merely to assuage the public and have little relevance to the US’s actual Iraq military situation in 2007 (and far less relevance to their mercenaries aka Blackwater / Xe.)

    For example, militia’s were suspected of using taxis to get around a city. So the order was issued to destroy all taxi cabs. “Destroy all taxi cabs, sir?” Order was confirmed and the destruction and chaos ensued.

    Here’s a bit of perspective:

    The Nation investigation marks the first time so many on-the-record, named eyewitnesses from within the US military have been assembled in one place to openly corroborate assertions of indiscriminate killings and other atrocities by the US military in Iraq.

  3. enkidu Says:

    I stand corrected: there was a RPG at the site. Not sure about the AKs. Anyone have a link? Rule of thumb: if a nearby guy has an RPG, move in the opposite direction. iirc the rules of engagement specifically forbid the targeting of civilians. Even as collateral damage.

    so craig, how are you doing on your Very Big List of Left Wing Nut Job Murder, Mayhem and Violence? If you can’t find anything in the last two years, perhaps we could open it up to the last ten?

  4. Craig Says:

    An interesting discussion, for those who have 30 minutes to spare.

  5. knarlyknight Says:

    Enk Two rifles can be seen at this point: and for another ten seconds or so.

    At what point in the video do you see the rpg Enk?

    I question the basis on which Assange states that there was an rpg and await clarification of the basis for his statement that military claims of a firefight nearby immediately preceding the attack were lies.

    As we all know, truth is the first casualty of war. If a rpg was found at the scene afterwards, that means very little, because:

    Washburn testified on a panel that discussed the rules of engagement (ROE) in Iraq, and how lax they were, to the point of being virtually nonexistent.
    “During the course of my three tours, the rules of engagement changed a lot,” Washburn’s testimony continued, “The higher the threat the more viciously we were permitted and expected to respond. Something else we were encouraged to do, almost with a wink and nudge, was to carry ‘drop weapons’, or by my third tour, ‘drop shovels’. We would carry these weapons or shovels with us because if we accidentally shot a civilian, we could just toss the weapon on the body, and make them look like an insurgent.”

    pick up an rpg here, toss it at the site of a questionable attack where kids were seriously wounded, easy peasy.

    Hart Viges, a member of the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army who served one year in Iraq, told of taking orders over the radio.
    “One time they said to fire on all taxicabs because the enemy was using them for transportation…. One of the snipers replied back, ‘Excuse me? Did I hear that right? Fire on all taxicabs?’ The lieutenant colonel responded, ‘You heard me, trooper, fire on all taxicabs.’ After that, the town lit up, with all the units firing on cars. This was my first experience with war, and that kind of set the tone for the rest of the deployment.”
    Vincent Emanuele, a Marine rifleman who spent a year in the al-Qaim area of Iraq near the Syrian border, told of emptying magazines of bullets into the city without identifying targets, …

    “An act that took place quite often in Iraq was taking pot shots at cars that drove by,” he said, “This was not an isolated incident, and it took place for most of our eight-month deployment.”

    … etc. ad nauseum.

  6. shcb Says:

    why would you bring up drop weapons when they are seen in the video Knarly? did they place them in the hands of the poor innocent civilians before the flyboys opened up?

    it is nice to have Enky agree with me for a change.

  7. NorthernLite Says:

    Craig makes a good point about the positives of video leaks these days. With so many cameras around these days I think it sort of keeps the military/police in check, especially after something like this is leaked.

    I guess a question I would have in this particular situation is why couldn’t the chopper ask the suspects to drop their weapons and put their hands in the air before shooting the heck out of them? I mean, if they then scattered or started firing at the chopper it’d be a pretty clear that they were bad guys and then go ahead and fire away. Seems like the shoot first ask questions later rule was in force that day.

  8. shcb Says:

    NL, this is war, not a law enforcement situation, in either situation the objective is to neutralize the enemy, that can be to kill them or capture them. In a law enforcement situation you heavily lean toward the capture, only killing as a last resort, in a war situation killing is at least equal to capture, but the objective is still neutralization. Also, they were a half mile away in a helicopter, it’s hard to ask politely to pull over and give registration and proof of insurance. If by some quirk they could have asked politely, do you think the bad guys would have agreed to wait for the ground troops? Of course not, they would have ran, then you would have not neutralized them in either fashion, kill or capture, they would have fought another day. You also have to consider they were somewhat isolated from the rest of the population, had they scattered and the chopper hit a house trying to kill an individual it would have been worse, Craig was correct, war is messy.

    Shoot first is always the rule in war, has been since the beginning of time. You don’t ask questions, before or after.

  9. NorthernLite Says:

    Good points. No arguement.

  10. shcb Says:


  11. Steve Says:

    I think the ENTIRE point of the video is that this is a common occurrence in war. Therefore, we should go to war less. When we advocate for war, we are necessarily advocating for the slaughter of innocent civilians.

  12. NorthernLite Says:

    Steve makes some good points, too. I guess what I’m saying is that I can see both sides of issue and agree with them both. Touch situation. Probably why you shouldn’t go to war unless absolutley necessary.

  13. shcb Says:

    I don’t think anyone is advocating going to war more, the question is where is the “absolutely necessary” line

  14. knarlyknight Says:

    Steve, That is exactly correct, anything else (including my comments) are secondary.

    shcb, I bring up drop weapons only in reference to the RPG launcher. My question was where in the video is it seen? The Apache crew clearly mistakes the camera behind the corner of the building as an rpg launcher (totally honest mistake, and points taken that camera’s are useful for reconnaisance and thus may be legitimate targets.) My previous post identifying rifles might be rpg’s for all I can see in the grainy footage, they look like rifles and the chopper crew identifies them as such, but maybe one is an rpg. I’d like that clarified. The RPG’s is a red-herring here anyway, because the permission (orders?) to engage were issued before any mention of rpg’s launchers.

    shcb, in determining that line one must determine whether the cause is sufficient to accept open warfare in your own city. If you do not understand that the lives of innocent civilians elsewhere are as valuable as yours and your neighbors then you do not have the human compassion that would qualify you to make the decision.

    The mantra of fighting them over there before they come here is bogus, once you engage in war the pandora’s box is opened and anything is possible. They’d attack here if they thought it would get America out of Iraq. The reason that Iraqi’s are not fighting here (much) is they are not trying to rule America, it is an insurgency and they are fighting you and amoungst themselves to the death for their way of life in their own land.

    Criag’s point about videos now helping to keep police and military abuses in check is valid. I’m jsut surprised that the quality of videos is not better (but it’s not bad considering.)

  15. shcb Says:

    The RPG is seen in at the 2:10 mark of the long version, this page has a screen shot, in the video he clearly swings the long weapon up, so it isn’t a shadow on the ground or anything like that, the man next to him has an AK-47.

    “shcb, in determining that line one must determine whether the cause is sufficient to accept open warfare in your own city.” That is just silly. The idea is to prevent open warfare in our cities. But if you are right, I guess we passed that threshold on Sept 11.

  16. NorthernLite Says:

    “I guessed we passed that threshold on Sept. 11”

    Yeah but that stupid little fact that Iraq had nothing, zilch, nadda to do with 9/11 keeps getting in the way of that argument :)

  17. Smith Says:

    Now you know all those mud hut people look the same. How can shcb be expected to know the difference between Osama and Saddam?

  18. shcb Says:

    By that logic we should have stopped the war against Japan after we killed Yamamoto.

  19. knarlyknight Says:

    Yanamoto was Japanese. Osama was (is?) not Iraqi.

    Saddam would have shot Osama had he come within range of his pistol.

    Where’s the logic?

  20. knarlyknight Says:

    It does not seem that “logic” applies to shcb rationalizing. That’s also apparent from shcb’s other comment, if I understand shcb correctly: shcb thinks that starting open warfare against another country’s cities makes people in those other cities less motivated or less likely to strike back?

    Well, has it? Or have the number of terrorist attacks against american interests (i.e. excluding regions of war like Afghanistan and Iraq) spiked since the invasion of Iraq? So I look and it does not show a spike, it shows a decline that looks slightly outside of what othewise might be explained by the the data set’s natural variations. So no easy points scored against shcb here. FYI – it is a pretty good database (University of Maryland) funded by your government. If you haven’t seen this resource before, to start here’s a chart of the full data set (1970-2007), for the USA (I chose to exclude acts against abortion facilities and exclude acts not aimed at attaining a political, economic, religious, or social goal):

    My main conclusion is that the significance of terrorist acts in the USA pales in comparison to what was happening in the 1970’s.

  21. knarlyknight Says:

    Also, to putting terrorist threats in perspective, the following looks like good analysis and the comments below are enlightening especially the ones dispensing with the counter-argument that terrorist nuclear attack would be a game changer.

    Strange how small a piece of pie islamic extremists actually comprise (required reading for wwnj’s) :

    shcb: re: rpg launcher, yes it looks like a rpg launcher in the video. Thanks for helping me with that.

  22. knarlyknight Says:

    On the database, you might want to look at the results for total terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran. Go to the modify search button at bottom of page then click on the country tab on the left and change the search criteria, then press search button.

  23. shcb Says:

    The logic is that we are at war with Islamic radicalism, not Osama, we were at war with Japan not Yamamoto, killing the architect of the Pearl Harbor attack would not have stopped Japan, just as killing Osama would not stop the Arabs. The rest of you posts just defy logic, Japan wasn’t much of a threat in the 1920’s either, so what? And there is also that old line an enemy of my enemy is my friend. We didn’t care much for the Russians before or after WWII but they were our allies. But we’ve been down this road before and the logic seems to escape you, probably always will.

  24. Smith Says:

    I guess it really wouldn’t do much good to point out that Saddam was probably less of a religious extremist than Palin or Dubya since: “Now you know all those mud hut people look the same. How can shcb be expected to know the difference between Osama and Saddam?”

    I guess we should have ignored Japan and bombed the fuck out of Mongolia after Pearl Harbor in order to stop those evil Asians. That seems to be the best fit for shcb’s latest racist analogy.

  25. knarlyknight Says:

    thx Smith you saved me a lot of time and said it better than I might have.

  26. shcb Says:

    What does religion and race have to do with my point or bigotry for that matter? I’m talking about strategy, alliances, and practicality. Just because I used the name of a religion in a sentence doesn’t mean that is the subject, unless all you are doing is skimming for a few keywords, but that is hardly a discussion. It is easy though.

  27. knarlyknight Says:

    “I guess we should have ignored Japan and bombed the fuck out of Mongolia after Pearl Harbor in order to stop those evil Asians. That seems to be the best fit for shcb’s latest […] analogy.”

  28. shcb Says:

    i don’t understand please explain.

  29. NorthernLite Says:

    If I may…

    I think what they’re saying is that the USA didn’t attack Mongolia (or China or every other Asian nation) after Pearl Harbour because they didn’t have squat to do with the attack. It would’ve made as much sense as attacking Iraq after 9/11…

  30. shcb Says:

    I know that is what they mean, I just wanted them to explain it since it makes so little sense. Their analogy would fit if you said the reason we didn’t attack Mexico and Sweden was because they didn’t have anything to do with 911 and they posed no threat. Just like “the USA didn’t attack Mongolia (or China or every other Asian nation) after Pearl Harbour because they didn’t have squat to do with the attack” ,em>and they posed no theat.

  31. NorthernLite Says:

    But the sick irony is that Saddam probably would have been an ally against Al Qaeda. I know you have a beef with “Muslims” but Saddam was pretty secular, especially for that part of the world. If him as an ally sounds messed up just remember that he once was an ally in the 80s when you armed him, and so was OBL, when you armed him.

    LOL, I’m starting to see why things keep getting f*cked over there. Perhaps it’d be better if you just stayed away for a while.

  32. shcb Says:

    What people here don’t seem to understand is this is like multi player chess, you may not even be an ally but if his interests help you, you are on his side even if you are positioning yourself to attack him later. Just because Sadam and Al Qaeda weren’t friends doesn’t mean either of them like us. If Al Qaeda can weaken the west enough for Sadam to take over a section of his little world that would be fine with him. Also, just because one of them is using religion as its purpose and the other isn’t that doesn’t make one less of a threat than the other. Maybe you guys just haven’t been involved with business or politics enough to have the experience of this dynamic.

  33. shcb Says:

    But you are right, he may have been an ally against Al Qeada at some point with someone, but not at that time

  34. NorthernLite Says:

    So I guess you still think it was worth charging over a trillion dollars (and counting) to your national credit card to invade a country that posed a zero threat and did not attack you? Not to mention how much you fed right into the terrorist recruitment strategy.

  35. enkidu Says:

    Well over a trillion so far, with all the medical care and ptsd the total cost of the Iraq war is in the trillions ($2.5 to $3 trillion by some estimates). Plus we’ll probably be there with 30 to 50,000 troops for decades…

    Good thing we got all that oil! What? hfs we didn’t even get the oil?!?

    heck of a job bushie

  36. shcb Says:

    But of course you have once again twisted my words, dare I say you have lied? I said they did pose a threat. And since they did, yes it has been worth the effort and money.

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