For all the countless words from the United States military about its killing of the Iraqi Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, their colleague Dean Yates has two of his own: “All lies.”
The former Reuters Baghdad bureau chief has also inked some on his arm – a permanent declaration of how those lies “fucked me up”, while he blamed first Namir – unfairly – and then himself for the killings.
The tattoo on his left shoulder features a looped green ribbon bearing the words Iraq, Bali and Aceh. At opposite points of the ribbon is etched PTSD and Fight Back, Moral injury and July 12 2007.
Yates’s experiences covering the 2002 Bali bombings and the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 seeded his post-traumatic stress, but 12 July 2007 is the day that changed his life irrevocably – while violently ending Namir’s and Saeed’s. It’s also the day that linked him by a thread of truth to the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who would, three years later, become the world’s most infamous hacker-publisher-activist with his release of thousands of classified US military secrets.