News Release

Veterans from Wikileaks Unit Apologize to Iraqis, Question U.S. Leadership


ETHAN McCORD, [in Kansas], JOSH STIEBER, [in D.C] via Laura Taylor
Stieber and McCord are former soldiers of the company documented in the video recently released by Wikileaks (Bravo Company 2-16), which shows U.S. soldiers killing civilians including a Reuters photographer and then shooting at people in a van attempting to rescue the wounded.

They have co-written “An Open Letter of Reconciliation and Responsibility to the Iraqi People,” which states: “We are both soldiers who occupied your neighborhood for 14 months. Ethan McCord pulled your daughter and son from the van, and when doing so, saw the faces of his own children back home. Josh Stieber was in the same company but was not there that day, though he contributed to your pain, and the pain of your community on many other occasions.

“There is no bringing back all that was lost. What we seek is to learn from our mistakes and do everything we can to tell others of our experiences and how the people of the United States need to realize we have done and are doing to you and the people of your country. We humbly ask you what we can do to begin to repair the damage we caused.” See the full letter:

McCord, who sustained injuries in Iraq, said today: “Some may think it’s all trigger-happy rednecks, or that it’s an ‘army of one’ but the military is made up of a lot of different people. Some love the life, others like me thought we were in it for a greater cause — and we were wrong. We realized that our job often was to out-terrorize the terrorists. But you shouldn’t really blame the soldiers, look to how soldiers are used and trained. Our chants during basic training include things like ‘I went to the playground where the children play, pulled out my machine gun and I began to spray — HA shoot!, shoot!, shoot!, shoot to kill!!'”

Stieber added today: “This is what war looks like; [the conduct on] this video has been given the stamp of approval from [Secretary] Gates. On a moral level, I even tried writing to leaders of the church I went to when I was troubled by things in basic training, and they told me to be patient and have faith. So when our institutions that claim to be for morality are facilitating this behavior, we’re in a dark place.”

Stieber and McCord were interviewed on the the Marc Steiner Show recently.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167