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Web Brings War Home

It has become common for soldiers to take digital cameras, video equipment, and laptops to war. They carry the devices or attach them to their gear and capture sights and sounds that range from gory to mundane, and then share their images via the Internet.
Though images of death and destruction turned the tide of public sentiment during the Vietnam War, Hooper said he would not support showing Iraqi war dead for that aim because he does not believe those images have the same effect now.

"I don't think we've reached that stage yet," he said. "We're seeing images of civilians each day in Lebanon, yet there is no cease-fire agreement."

Hayden Hewitt, who co-owns Ogrish.com, takes the opposite view. His site posts insurgent video of beheadings as well as footage submitted by soldiers. He said he believes people should see the reality of war.

"It's not like other sites where you'll get 'lol. Another beheading," he said Friday during an interview from Manchester, United Kingdom. "You can look if you want and don't if you don't. We have descriptive captions so you can make a decision: 'Do I want to see this, or do I not want to see this?"

He said the site sticks to facts. Hewitt also said people have a fascination with death and merely posting the content is not supporting it. As evidence, he points to insurgents' graphic videos aimed at gaining broader support in the Muslim world.

"That's one piece of propaganda that did backfire against the insurgents," Hewitt said. "The majority of the Muslim world turned against them when they saw it because who wants that in their name?"

He said that his site has drawn up to 800,000 hits on a big news day, though the average is more like 200,000 hits. Video footage uploaded to the site has run on major news networks like CNN, he said.

According to Hewitt, the soldiers' video footage is much more popular than that of the insurgents.