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BBC OnePanorama


Last Updated: Friday, 7 November 2003, 13:52 GMT
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We've had several e-mails requesting the name and title of the music which was played during the film. The piece used was Brian Eno: An Ascent. It featured on the soundtrack to the film 28 Days Later.

Just wanted to congratulate you on a particularly excellent edition of the programme shown on Sunday 9th Nov. Having actually watched the 'friendly fire' incident as it happened it was interesting, though disturbing to find out the background to this. It also gave me an in sight into the personal tragedy that lies behind so many of the war stories shown on the news. Excellent as always - here's to the next 50 years.
Claire French, Scotland

Panorama is a bastion of quality investigative reporting. Long may it last. This episode set a new standard because it did not shy from the reality, harshness of war and was unaffected by political pressures to show otherwise.
Graham, UK

In response to Steve Harrison: What would our views be if brave and committed journalists such as these didn't show us what is really going on in a war. People need to see that war situations aren't black and white. It's messy, chaotic, and brutal. People have to be aware of what the real cost of war is. It's all too easy to forget.
Katy, UK

When such programmes are broadcast on the BBC, I then say to myself 'the TV licence is well worth it'.
Harry Smith, St Albans

I watched John Simpson's report with immense interest last night. His handling of the meeting between himself & Kamaran's family showed what a gentleman the guy is. It was a very moving programme about the realities of war without any false glorification at all. Full credit goes to John Simpson and the rest of the team for a very thought provoking documentary.
Graham Taylor, UK

A very poignant programme, which highlighted the real effect of war. The BBC crew did there best and they should be proud off it and I pray to God that Kamaran's soul rests in peace. A great man who gave his life in the line of duty. Keep it up BCC.
Haroon, Pakistan

I can only re-iterate the comments made by others in that this was an excellent programme that illustrated the horrors of war, even if this was just one act! This must also show the extent of the cover up that occurs from the US Military machine when they are not in the media spotlight and the damage that 'friendly fire' causes. However, the media do have a responsibility for the safety of all of their staff and to put unarmed civilians in a war zone can be seen as reckless, but without this open approach, our knowledge of these incidents would still be covered up. I now challenge a BBC reporter to get into Guantanamo Bay to find out the horrors being covered up there.
Matt Doe, UK

I saw this footage a few months back on BBC2 late one night and I found it truly shocking. It left me absolutely speechless. Brave men snuffed out due to human error. However these are the risks you take when moving through the front lines. It would be worth mentioning how many mores lives would have been lost if it weren't for the bravery of the pilots who flew countless sorties over the frontlines supporting groups suck as these. You can only hope that lessons have been learnt and that the 16 brave people who lost their lives were not in vain.
Simon, UK

Great programme. We saw the effects on a just a few of the people effected by just one missile launched by the coalition. We should also spare a thought for the story behind the other 30,000 bombs the coalition dropped on Iraq.
Alex, England

The most gripping documentary I have ever seen. A shocking insight into the awful reality of war, the side we never normally see. I hope Mr Blair was sent a personal copy! Iraq needed to be freed but this documentary really did beg the question "at what cost?"
James, England

The pain of Kamaran's family could not fail to move. Neither could the image of the 4-year-old girl lying in pain in the hospital. This 30 seconds of footage was true horror. Maybe that was worth recognition more than the assumed motives of those involved, more than the comfort and absolution of being able to allot blame, and of the more offensive concept of "collateral damage".
Leigh, Netherlands

Breathtaking, emotional programme - not a dry eye in our household. We thought it was a moving and very well made documentary. Well done to John Simpson and his crew - very brave men.
Dianne Theuam-Price, UK

A very fine piece of journalism and a programme bringing home the real truth and clear-cut message of war. Although it was a massive blunder in terms of what happened, journalists do make that decision to be when and where they are, and know the risks involved.
The BBC and all involved should receive an award for the making of such a fine programme and I hope the BBC continues its high standard of journalism, that for me is world class.
Daniel, UK

I just wanted to add my congratulations on this excellent, very moving and thought-provoking programme.
Graham Rutter, UK

Thank you for such an eye-opening and educational documentary. Seeing first hand commentary from Iraq brought home the sad realities of war. By the end of the programme, I was moved to tears as the BBC team paid tribute to Kamaran.
Nayanee Perera, UK

If there is one reason that should stop any war, it will be John Simpson's account of the futile journey into the war zone. The account of the event I found harrowing and images will stay in my mind for the rest of my life. The effect is the same as the picture of the little girl running in the Vietnam war after the napalm bomb. The image of that little girl in hospital in those conditions with her sound from her pain is torturing my soul. Please take these comments - take them to people who start these atrocities and make them stop it.
Mina Nikoui, UK

I found myself watching by default after switching over from the voyeuristic Louis Theroux perv fest and was immediately engrossed. This show - with it's abundance of blood and guts, swearwords, heart-wrenching music, was the best advert for the futility and absurdities of war I've ever seen. It wasn't anti-American as someone suggests above - they may lead the way in military incompetence, but by no means do they possess a monopoly.
Kirk Field, UK

I was appalled by the programme. Not because it proved that war is a dreadful and shocking event, I knew that, but by the fact that John Simpson and his crew so recklessly put their own lives, and worse, the lives of their local employees at risk in some misguided ego-inflating attempt to "get a story". Listening to Simpson describe how they were going to try to get specific pictures of the Kurds when the war caught up with them was more sickening than any shots of burning bodies.
The incident was a terrible mistake but war is like that. Terrible things happen - that's why I was against this war from the outset. To write "TV" on your truck in gaffer tape and wander around in a combat area is stupid and irresponsible. I feel very sorry for the poor lad who was killed and his family. The BBC need to wise up and realise that this is not a game and if they keep treating it as such more people are going to get killed.
Steve Harrison, UK

Can I just say a big thank you to John Simpson and the BBC/local team for tonight's Panorama, which should have brought home a few lessons. In particular, thanks to John for his very poignant words at the end about unnecessary deaths caused by incompetence in war and peacetime - it is remarkable that, as for Kamaran's family, there is never any acknowledgement or expression of genuine regret from those responsible - be they politicians, civil servants, military authorities or the trigger happy. Thank you John and your crew; rest in peace, Kamaran.
Dave Hollins, UK

Proudly marching pensioners bedecked with medals are shown on TV every Remembrance Sunday, but does anyone who hasn't actually experienced the horrors of war know what they're marching about? It seems more fitting to me to illustrate that war widows and paraplegics are still being created every day, and they have no trouble remembering. I believe Sqn Ldr C Thirtle is mistaken in his evaluation of John Simpson's film. It was more about the reality of war, than merely a criticism of a friendly fire incident, and is extremely fitting for Remembrance Sunday. War is a bloody, ghastly, stupid way to be settling matters in the 21st century, and the uncensored horrific reality should be shown more often to discourage politicians of conscience undertaking it lightly.
Dan, UK

A truly fascinating programme depicting the true horrors of war. I couldn't take my eyes off the screen. I happen to support the war in Iraq, but have may times shaken my head in amazement at the sheer stupidity of the American forces. I just can't imagine the British Army being so gung-ho in their attitude. Sure, accidents do happen, but this appeared to be wholly preventable.
Andrew Evans, UK

What an awful reckless blunder! Without giving specific map/grid coordinates while being that close, they should have at least fired a coloured smoke grenade to allow the pilots to distinguish them from the target.
Greg Brune, UK

Brilliant programme. John Simpson captured the emotions of everyone. No-one can match him when it comes to foreign affairs. He is more than a journalist. He even managed to capture the powerful wailing of a little child in one of the hospitals. The friendly attack should be fully investigated, as Kamaran's family and others must be informed about why this awful attack happened? I feel bitter that Kamaran never made it to see free Iraq, a country in which its evil dictator tortured people for over 35 years.
Handrain Marph, UK

I did for one second have to remind myself this wasn't a movie. The sheer fright and disbelief on those faces was enough. I just need to know one thing. The 7 year old girl injured from the bombings in intensive care broke my heart. Please let me know she pulled through. What can a mum do to help sat in her comfortable home, in a secure town in the UK, while her daughter sleeps soundly.. but cry and pray.
N Sharpe, UK

We were deeply moved after watching Panorama tonight - In the line of fire with John Simpson. Near the end of the programme, when you entered Baghdad, you briefly showed a tiny little girl in hospital with bandages on her head, hands and other parts of the body, she was probably about 3 in a lot of pain and crying. Please can you tell us what happened to her, if you know.
Sara, England

I sat and cried throughout the whole episode. John and his team are so brave. My two sons aged 20 and 21 were out in Basra at the time of that particular incident. I remember watching it and trying to imagine what both my sons were going through. I think we need programmes like this to show us the bravery of the soldiers, journalists and everyone else that is on the front line. My family are among the lucky ones. Both my sons arrived home safely. In this fickle world, we tend to forget very quickly the horrendous time had by all. Thank you once again.
Maria, South Wales, UK

The BBC had taken a huge risk in airing "In the line of fire" but it paid off. What an insight into the Iraq war. I haven't seen such images before and was very shocked at what risks the journalists were putting themselves in. But then I suppose every man and woman fighting that war, did that day in day out. But we will never know how it feels until we are there, and I pray that that never happens. It was deeply touching and very moving.
Becca Wilson, England

This is the truth about war and the sort of programme people need to see at teatime not the censored news. Maybe it will put them off their tea for a change and make them stop and think about war. Well done Mr Simpson and the rest of your crew for this insight into the real uncertainty and tragedy that war can bring to peoples lives. Maybe it will change peoples' views, maybe it won't, but it made me stop and think for a change. Thank you again. (Ex UK Forces)
Alan Piddington, UK

The overwhelming feeling I get from watching Panorama tonight was that of choked emotion. If only John Simpson and the others involved would be allowed to truly express their anger - pour on the 'F' words please, and more. Having caught it the first time the report was shown on the BBC, and then seeing the report progressively diluted again and again during that very day and since, I was hoping and prepared tonight to get the true story. The exasperating "professionalism" with which John Simpson and the others are so tightly bound is in one sense truly admirable, but in another it is utterly frustrating. This episode of friendly fire, and the others that seem to be almost built in to the battle tactics of the US, need to be shouted, screamed, kicked and punched about. This was an opportunity to deliver a devastatingly hard hitting retaliation for all of those caught up in what must be in my mind, considered as war crimes. I feel the anger - but I don't feel that it was directed anywhere with any particular effect.
Gareth Rosser, South Wales

Tonight's programme fills you with different thoughts. You begin to question your innermost beliefs. The programme has and will cause many comments, some for, some against. This is truly a very good thing, classic high quality television. What we expect from our BBC. Thank you.
Alan Mawman, UK

A thoroughly shocking programme giving a remarkable insight into the horrors of war. Programmes with this strong an impact tend to make me question my faith in humanity. It is unfortunate that the event leading to the footage even happened, but I would like to thank the BBC for airing it at length without censorship of some of the shocking images.
Martyn French, UK

Thank you John Simpson and your team. If there was ever a graphic way to confirm my own doubts and suspicions over the Iraq debacle over the past year, tonight's programme did it. Please continue with this type of factual journalism - crass headlines come and go but a Panorama image always stays with me and makes me think.
Viviene Ball, Cornwall, UK

I sat with tears in my eyes while watching this very moving and well presented BBC programme compiled by Mr Simpson and his brave team, well done and I hope you all get some type of award for this.
Craig, N.Ireland

Pardon my cynicism, but I thought the motives of this programme were questionable. Whilst the free press will assert their right (and public duty) to report such events, war is not a spectator sport and those who have the 'choice' of being there should bear the responsibility when events overtake them. However, I doubt whether they feel as much guilt as the US servicemen, whose job could have been made easier without their presence.
Dave, UK

I watched the programme with my 11-year-old son and we both were further convinced of the futility of war. Death and destruction without point. In that case no one was in danger until the air strike came in. A massive weapon to effectively swat a fly.
However, the programme felt like it was made because the BBC had some good footage and journalists who felt guilty. There are many questions that need answering from the war in Iraq. Who bombed John Simpson, while important, is not very high on the list. Get some perspective. On Remembrance Sunday it was fitting to remember war and random suffering, but what about some hard hitting journalism looking at the reasons for the war at all?
Andy Redfern, Gateshead, UK

An excellent programme, congratulations to the BBC, John Simpson and his colleagues. A counterbalance to much of the propaganda put out by much of the American press and the 'Embeds'.
John, England

Thanks for a very moving programme - how war is very much not a clinical exercise and that it is always the innocent who get whacked.
Dudley Walter, UK

Unbelievable - a masterpiece - and one can only hope that this gets an airing on the other side of the pond - not that anyone's going to hold out much hope for that. Not for gratuitous American-bashing (and there was none of this in the programme), but just to give another audience the healthy dose of harsh reality that we all need from time to time. John Simpson's reports are absolutely gripping from start to finish. We need more of this.
Tom, Wales

This comment is addressed to Eddie Smith, commenting on the uncensored 'f' words included in tonight's 'Panorama'. Good grief, if you can't drop an 'f' into conversation when you're being bombed, when can you include it? Extreme situations are what these words are intended for. They weren't gratuitous; they were desperate, frightened and hurt. Get a grip.
David Holder, United Kingdom

John Simpson and his team were extremely lucky; many others clearly were not. The real horror of war was evident in this fine programme. I sincerely hope that the American networks show it.
Michael Oakes, Leeds, England

John Simpson's documentary was probably the most enlightening and ultimately moving account I've yet seen on the Iraq war. After endless months of seeing gung-ho American troops, sensationalist news reports and tedious political bickering, this programme finally brought home the confusion and terror of war as felt by those on the ground. Shocking, yes, but this is the kind of shock that people need to see to sweep away their sanitised impressions.
Alastair, Suffolk, UK

A very poignant programme, which highlighted the real effect of war. The US is plainly not interested in revealing the truth about what happened in this incident. It seems incongruous to me that the US pilots in this war are considered heroes. They were never fighting against a real enemy. It was just hi-tech slaughter. It seems they are no more heroic than an executioner or a firing squad.
Nick, UK

What a moving and shocking programme, I could hardly believe what I was watching. It was horrid, but to make it worse the people that did it were "friendly".
Shirl, Doncaster, England

I watched the Panorama programmes on Sunday 9th Nov, 2003 and I must admit I was really touched and moved. Congratulations to the BBC for the professional job you are doing.
Gilbert Osei-Alomele, United Kingdom

My partner and I watched with tears in our eyes for much of the programme. The poor translator, who had gone along because he wanted some adventure and because he wanted to travel. He ended up dead in 'friendly fire'. Well, I hate to break it to you people, but it doesn't matter who launches it. If a bomb lands 12 yards away from you, it will still blow your legs off. My hat off to John Simpson and others, who deserve knighthoods for the risks they take for the sake of impartial informative journalism. You are all a huge credit.
David Holder, United Kingdom

Whilst I appreciate that the event was a unique experience and worthy of reporting as a documentary on Panorama, I felt it was totally inappropriate to air the programme on Remembrance Sunday. In war, any death, however it is caused, is a tragedy. I do not believe Remembrance Sunday is the day to focus on the errors of those military men and women prepared to die for the greater good. It is the time to honour the memory of those who have made, and continue to make, the ultimate sacrifice such that we may all live in freedom. I would have hoped the BBC would have shown them more respect.
Sqn Ldr C Thirtle, UK

That was the most moving television programme I have ever seen.
Anne Willie, Seascale, Cumbria, UK

A very gripping and compelling film from start to finish by John Simpson and his team graphically showing the viewer the true reality of the war in Iraq. I was very impressed by the courage of John and his team, and am very sad at the loss of their much respected colleague, Kamaran. The military, we always hear and see take great risks, but journalists and their teams too who bring us up to date reports from the front line also take great risks to bring us these reports.

As a result of the film I really do think that we should be looking at ways seriously to end the threat of friendly fire attacks. The film was very touching and I do think that John and the rest of the team should receive some official recognition for the film shown tonight. I do hope also that many of our senior politicians found time to watch this gripping film.
Steve Fuller, England

I do have to comment on that was one of the most interesting and informative of programmes, presented in a very stirring manner. I particularly feel it was relevant given that it was aired on Remembrance Sunday.

Although there are many questions that are asked by the programme, I do believe that the programme did its best to highlight the situation, combined with some excellent camerawork, and, emotive imagery. A very humbling programme, and just the sort of programming excellence out of the situation that the BBC should continue to pride itself on. It deserved a more prominent timeslot.
Sam, UK

Thanks for all the interesting and informative documentaries Panorama has provided over the years. I kept watching this one despite the fact that I was in tears again.
Tristan, Scotland

If I ever had anything positive to say about this war - I don't anymore. That was one of the most touching TV programmes I have ever watched. I'm only 16 - but I'm quite interested in politics. This programme has changed my view of the American government. How can they justify not making an official statement after this evidence? I expect to see or hear of one soon.
Kenneth Maddock, Motherwell, Scotland

What a balanced programme yet again from John Simpson and the crew. Will the BBC now have an inquiry or form a policy with regards to correspondents doing reports in dangerous places when there is not enough protective kit for all members of the crew? A flak jacket might not have made any difference in this case but a future policy might prevent employing people without issuing the same protective kit as the rest of the crew. Would that have meant you would not have gone into the front lines if such a policy existed. Of course, the killing of all those people would still have happened.
Mark Worsdall, UK

Thank you for creating that programme. It was beyond touching, deeply moving, and has made us think. Having a war on TV makes it quite easy to turn it off when we don't want to see what's on the screen. Although I already know the answer, is there any chance that this will air in the States? I know many, many people who would want to see this.
Elana, Ireland

What a sad and sorry episode. I'm glad the BBC is financially helping Kamaran's family. Is the American army? I hope when new American special forces are being trained, they see this programme.
John, England

Breathtaking. Such an emotional, gripping programme. John Simpson's style of reporting clearly brings home the horrors of war. A truly unbelievable insight.
Shaun Chew, United Kingdom

Without watching the whole programme I have come away totally frustrated with the BBC. BBC One is probably the most censored channel regarding the "f" word. But this programme is littered with un-censored "f" words! Why?
If you do not 'normally' allow us to hear the "f" word, why let us hear it now? I would like an explanation. Also, there must be thousands of hours of shocking video footage of Iraq. Why show "friendly fire" footage? Are you really trying your hardest to convince us all that you are indeed anti-American?
Eddie Smith, England

I cannot understand why all the press continues to use the term "friendly fire" so readily. Just because the military uses it doesn't make it any less insulting. Personally, it makes me wince every time I hear it. Please explain why the BBC uses it?
David Goodson, UK

In the line of fire
26 Oct 03 |  Panorama
Panorama man saved by phone call
09 Nov 03 |  Panorama

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