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Aiding the Enemy

2:15 PM, Sep 19, 2007 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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The quiet outrage of Major Troy Gilbert's widow, Ginger Gilbert, is compelling, and not only because of her "absolute moral authority," as Maureen Dowd might put it. Mrs. Gilbert's husband was killed in November 2006 when his F-16 crashed near Baghdad while providing close air support to a downed helicopter crew; the official investigation concluded that "Gilbert crashed because he was so focused on saving friendly troops from attacking insurgents that he flew too low." Al Qaeda subsequently released a video tape showing a desecrated and disinterred body that may or may not be Major Gilbert, though the tape is accompanied by images of his ID card.

Ginger Gilbert felt that the images were being used to erode support for the mission for which her husband and her family have sacrificed so much--that the "national press" was using the images as "a political catalyst to generate antiwar sentiment." No doubt Mrs. Gilbert is right, but as the Jawa Report explains, the video was also being used to demonstrate just how dangerous the enemy is:

Over the past several days I have received dozens of requests to see the recent video released by al Qaeda in Iraq which showed the terror organization desecrating the body of downed pilot Maj. Troy L. Gilbert. The majority of those requests came from Troy's friends and comrades at Luke Air Force Base. They expressed a wish to see just what it was that Troy was fighting in Iraq.

Despite my hesitation over sending the video, many insisted that they needed to see the video. Some of them are close with Troy's widow, Ginger Gilbert, and felt that watching the video would help them support her in this time of need.

One of those that requested the video is an instructor at Luke AFB. He says he will use the video to show his students what they are up against.

You can see the video of Ginger Gilbert's press conference here. Replaying the video on national television and against the wishes of the family is both inappropriate and inexcusable. But this kind of thing is all too common. This week's "die-in" saw the anitwar movement appropriate names of fallen soldiers to advance their cause, MoveOn commercials feature images of burned out Humvees to try and break morale, and insurgent videos have repeatedly been aired on both network and cable news.

Earlier this week I watched HBO's Alive Day special on the struggles of wounded U.S. soldiers as they try to reassimilate into civilian life. The show was hosted by James Gandolfini, who showed nothing but respect for the troops, and who at no time attempted to interject his own politics into their stories. But the producers, that's another story. The whole show was spliced with images of U.S. Humvees absorbing massive explosions from IEDs. The images were an obvious attempt to undermine morale, and were, more often than not, drawn from the insurgent propaganda videos that proliferate on the Internet--and which explicitly attempt to undermine morale. The viewer was led to believe that these videos were, in fact, images of the attack that wounded the soldier or Marine being interviewed. They weren't. Here's the statement from HBO:

"The insurgent supplied video mirrors the kind of attack each soldier/marine was involved in. The insurgent video matches the attack and was carefully vetted by HBO military advisors."

Insurgent video, spliced together with interviews of wounded soldiers, and all made to look as though the two are related--al Qaeda couldn't have done it better themselves. Perhaps Mrs. Gilbert's decision to speak out will cause the media to think twice before appropriating such images for their own ends in the future. One can only hope.