War Correspondent Michael Ware Leaves CNN – Suffers Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome

Posted on September 26, 2010


Michael Ware was that voice of the CNN press in Iraq that spoke from a deep knowledge of the region and its people with a decidedly Australian accent.  His perspective was balanced.

But then something happened. He watched a young insurgent with a gun get shot in the back of the head by a US soldier.  The young man did not die right away.  For 20 minutes Ware and others stood and watched the agony of his death without moving to ease his pain.  In ware’s words:

…[H]e realized that he was “more concerned with the composition” of his photo than he was with intervening in some way. “I indeed had been indifferent as the soldiers around me whose indifference I was attempting to capture,” Ware says.

In 2008, Ware gave an interview with Men’s Journal‘s Greg Veis, that hinted at his mental anguish.

“I am not the same fucking person,” he tells me. “I am not the same person. I don’t know how to come home.”It’s October, six months after our first meeting, and Michael Ware, 39, is at his girlfriend’s apartment in New York, trying to tell me why after six years he absolutely must start spending less time in Iraq. He’s crying on the other end of the telephone.

“Will I get any better?” he continues. “I honestly don’t know. I can’t see the — right now, I know no other way to live.” [Men's Journal]

Ware also attested to his desire to expose more people to the horrors of war:

He dreams of renting out a theater and subjecting an audience to it in full surround sound; that way people would know what it’s really like over there. “It’s my firm belief that we need to constantly jar the sensitivities of the people back home,” he says. “War is a jarring experience. Your kids are living it out, and you’ve inflicted it upon 20-odd million Iraqis. And when your brothers and sons and mates from the football team come home, and they ain’t quite the same, you have an obligation to sit for three and a half minutes and share something of what it’s like to be there.” [HuffingtonPost]

Here is the voice that has been silenced by the trauma of war.

On the other side of his career, this, too was Michael Ware:

Back in 2006, CNN caught hell from Iraq war proponents after it ran Ware’s video report on insurgent snipers targeting U.S. troops in Iraq. Criticism followed hard from viewers and from lawmakers, most notably Representative Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), who accused CNN of serving “as the publicist for an enemy propaganda film featuring the killing of an American soldier.””Does CNN want America to win this thing?” Hunter asked, “You can’t be on both sides of the war.” An incensed Hunter then asked then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld “to remove CNN from the military embedding program.”

Whether or not that incident contributed to CNN’s decision to not air the footage Ware is now describing, it is at the very least, context worth remembering. CNN is said to own Ware’s footage of the incident he describes today in the Brisbane Times

Finally, CNN itself is undergoing a sea change.  Less foreign news coverage and a change in staff from the top down.