By: Greg Mitchell
It must have come as shock this morning for many readers of The New York Times — in print. You couldn’t miss it. There is was at the top right of page A9, righthand page.
The image was so strong the Times didn’t even feel it needed to be connected to a story, but could just float on its own. It had a kind of small headline under it and a two-line caption.
The photo by Hadi Mizhan of The Associated Press shows two Iraqi boys, maybe eight years old, against a bare brick wall holding realistic looking small pistols — real or fake — against the skull of another youth sitting between them. They are smiling excitedly.
Their “prisoner” cowers, his fingers in his mouth.
The caption reads: “Iraqi boys staged a mock execution yesterday in Baghdad, with a 4-year-old, center, playing the role of the condemned. Children in Iraq have been heavily influenced by violence. Among other games the youngster play is one that imitates a clash between militias and the police.”
Directly under the caption, and seemingly unrelated, runs this headline: “3rd American Soldier Charged in Murder of an Iraqi Civilian.”
That story closes with word of another alleged atrocity: Iraqi officials state that American jets had killed 10 civilians, including women and children, and wounded 30 others in Diwaniya. “The stirke led to a protest march by residents,” the article reveals, “some of whom opened fire on a government building, leading to an exchange in which a 17-year-old demonstrator and two security gaurds were killed.”