Dear Rolling Stone Editor,
You should be ashamed of yourself. How on earth can any editor that even halfway subscribes to a notion of ethical writing allow such an obvious example of yellow journalism as your recent “The Kill Team” article to be published? I shouldn’t be surprised that a company that allows a scumbag reporter like Michael Hastings to worm his way into the confidence of General McChrystal and his staff, only to betray that same confidence by writing a hashed together slander piece, would allow a similarly excretory piece like “The Kill Team” to disgrace its pages.
First of all, this article is not news. CPL Morlock pleaded guilty to his heinous crimes 10 months ago. Nobody, service member or civilian, can excuse or rationalize the behavior of him or his squad mates.
What angers me is your blatant attempt at slandering the rest of the division and US Army by trying to suggest that crimes like this are commonplace. This is precisely what you tried to do with the inclusion of the two videos on your website. These videos represent legitimate combat kills, and both, while explicit and disturbing, are not war crimes or atrocities in any way, shape or form.
If you watch and listen to the “Motorcycle” video, you can see an AK-47 underneath one of the insurgents when he is turned over. Both insurgents are wearing Kalashnikov magazine carrying vests. You can even hear one of the members of the squad relaying the situation from another unit, which had just been attacked by these same men. These are armed enemy combatants, caught exfiltrating from an ambush, and thus are perfectly legitimate targets.
The same is true for the IED placement video. The two men are clearly shown placing a roadside bomb and then seeking cover and concealment. Perhaps you would like the infantry unit to drive down that road and politely inquire of their intentions? These are legitimate combatants in the act of targeting US troops, and they were dealt with accordingly. The fact that your text accompanying these videos whines that ‘this is a clear breach of Army standards’ represents the height of hypocrisy, since you are making a fast buck of the sensational aspect of the videos, exactly the same as websites like LiveLeak and Ogrish–hardly the apex of journalistic integrity for which Rolling Stone is known for, albeit in the distant past.
Moreover, these videos were shot by entirely different units that have nothing to do with the perpetrators of the acts in the article. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the differences in size and organization of a squad, platoon, company, regiment or division–in which I suggest that your reporters pick up a dictionary or encyclopedia and educate themselves before writing some ignorant drivel as this article. Perhaps your staff is unfamiliar with the realities and nature of counter-insurgency warfare; in which case I suggest that they (a.) spend a little more time embedded with their units in the field–presupposing that ISAF will ever again allow one of your treacherous and immoral “journalists” in-country ever again, or (b.) sign up with a branch of the US military, preferably the Army or Marine Corps, and hopefully in a Combat Arms career field, and get some real world experience to go along with their liberal arts fiasco of an education.
So, which is it? Were you just trying to make a quick profit by recycling old and unrelated material? Or are you perhaps seeking to relive the halcyon days of Rolling Stone in the 1960s, when you were relevant and hip and cutting edge? Those days are long past, this is not Vietnam, and this is not the era of the Draft, sucking in the uneducated and untrained while scaring the crap out of you and everyone else hiding in smoke-wreathed colleges. Relive your glory days at home with your bong, the Nation ain’t buying this tired hippy crap anymore.
In any case, the answers to these questions don’t really matter. What does matter is the fact that I will never EVER buy another copy of Rolling Stone. Moreover, you can rest assured that this letter will go to every company that chooses to advertise in your rag of a magazine; corporations like Anheuser Busch, AT&T, Burberry, Cabelas’, Hilton Hotels, Jim Beam, Samsung, to name a few. I will be boycotting their products, and will urge everyone I know to do the same until they cut support for your endeavors.
Don’t misunderstand me: I abhor the actions of “The Kill Team”, and support the punishments that will inevitably fall upon them. But for a major American publication to attempt to tarnish the hard work and sacrifices of every US service member on the battlefield by attempting to tie legitimate combat operations to the atrocities committed by a handful of Soldiers, under conditions that are absolutely unimaginable by you or your staff, is inexcusable.
You should be ashamed.
Owen R. Powell
SGT, US Army