CNN’s Jake Tapper would have done well to read “Lone Survivor,” rather than just seeing the new movie, before interviewing former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell last week. If he had, Tapper might have been more careful than to describe the deaths of Luttrell’s SEAL comrades in Afghanistan as “senseless.” And he would have been wary of Luttrell’s contempt for the liberal media.
The film “Lone Survivor, which ” took in $38.5 million at the box office its opening weekend is based on a 2010 book by Luttrell that tells the tragic story of a 2005 operation in which the three other members of Luttrell’s SEAL team, along with 17 other special ops warriors, were killed. The story turned on the team’s agonized decision to turn lose some Afghan goat herders who had stumbled onto its concealed position. As the SEALs had feared, the freed civilians went straight to the Taliban, precipitating the battle.
While the movie recounts the fateful decision, it doesn’t explicitly tell the audience that a big part of deciding not to kill the goat herders was the certain knowledge that, “The media in the United States of America would crucify us,” in Luttrell’s words.
To kill or not kill the goat herders was a horrible choice to have to make – a moral, ethical and military dilemma that weighed the lives of the civilians against the lives of the team. Luttrell was rightly furious at having to to decide knowing that the SEALs would never get a fair shake from a hostile news media.
Throughout the book, Luttrell registered distrust of liberals in the media and in Washington – and did so with a very direct eloquence. Here are 10 of the best examples from the book. (Page numbers correspond to the Kindle Edition.)
1. “This entire business of modern war crimes, as identified by the liberal wings of politics and the media, began in Iraq and has been running downhill ever since. Everyone’s got to have his little hands in it, blathering on about the public’s right to know.” (p. 38)
2. “It’s been an insidious progression, the criticisms of the U.S. Armed Forces from politicians and from the liberal media, which knows nothing of combat, nothing of our training, and nothing of the mortal dangers we face out there on the front line.”(p. 36)
3. “That situation might look simple in Washington, where the human rights of terrorists are often given high priority. And I am certain liberal politicians would defend their position to the death. Because everyone knows liberals have never been wrong about anything. You can ask them. Anytime.” (p. 37)
4. On the left’s view of U.S. troops: “… we were somehow in the wrong, brutal killers, bullying other countries; that we who put our lives on the line for our nation at the behest of our government should somehow be charged with murder for shooting our enemy.” (p. 36)
5. “I promise you every insurgent, freedom fighter and stray gunman in Iraq who we arrested knew the ropes, knew that the way out was to announce he had been tortured by the Americans, ill-treated, or prevented from reading the Koran or eating his breakfast or watching television. They all knew al-Jazeera, the Arab broadcasters, would pick it up, and it would be relayed to the U.S.A., where the liberal media would joyfully accuse all of us of being murderers or barbarians or something. Those terrorist organizations laugh at the U.S. media, and they know exactly how to use the system against us.” (p. 39)
6. “Was there ever a greater uproar than the one that broke out over Abu Ghraib? In the bigger scheme of things, in the context of all the death and destruction that Muslim extremists have visited upon this world, a bunch of Iraqi prisoners being humiliated does not ring my personal alarm bell. And it would not ring yours either if you ever saw firsthand what these guys are capable of. I mean, Jesus, they cut off people’s heads, American heads, aid workers’ heads. They think nothing of slaughtering thousands of people; they’ve stabbed and mutilated young American soldiers, like something out of the Middle Ages.” (p. 68)
7. Of the realization that the goat herders had betrayed the SEALs’ position: “It was the stupidest, most southern-fried, lamebrained decision I ever made in my life. I must have been out of my mind. I had actually cast a vote which I knew could sign our death warrant. I’d turned into a fucking liberal, a half-assed, no-logic nitwit, all heart, no brain, and the judgment of a jackrabbit.” (p. 206)
8. “I guess we’d better start getting used to the consequences and permit the American liberal to squeak and squeal us to ultimate defeat. I believe that’s what it’s called when you pack up and go home, when a war fought under your own ‘civilized’ terms is unwinnable.” (p. 313)
9. “And I am left feeling that no matter how much the drip-drip-drip of hostility towards us is perpetuated by the liberal press, the American people simply do not believe it. They are rightly proud of the armed forces of the United States of America. They innately understand what we do.” (p. 375)
10. “Some members of the media might think they can brainwash the public anytime they like, but I know they can’t. Not here. Not in the United States of America.” (p. 376)
Here’s hoping Luttrell is right.