The U.S. Department of Defense is investigating at least two video clips that appear to show American soldiers in an unfavorable light during contacts with Iraqi children, according to a report in the British newspaper, the Metro.
A clip found on YouTube titled "Iraqi Kid Runs For Water" appears to show U.S. soldiers amusing themselves by watching children chase their truck in the hope the soldiers will make good on their offer of a water bottle.
"You want some water? Keep running," shouts a soldier, who laughs at the scampering boys. He asks, presumably whoever is taping the scene "Are you getting this?"
Another video features a soldier complaining about orders forbidding him from using deadly force against rock-throwing youngsters.
The Internet has spread uncensored images of war to the public like never before. Donald Rumsfeld, the outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense, has suggested the U.S. military is not well prepared to fight a propaganda war in the Internet age.
Perhaps the most famous example of how images circulated on the Internet has hurt the U.S. mission in Iraq are the photos taken at Abu Ghraib prison. The pictures of naked men being led around on leashes and stacked up on top of each other like cordwood was denounced by even the closest U.S. allies.
To be sure, none of the videos that have cropped up in the past couple of months on video-sharing sites indicate any wrongdoing on the level of Abu Gharaib.
The video of the truck-chasing children shows them racing to keep up with the soldiers until one by one they begin to give up. A single child continues the pursuit and appears to be rewarded when the soldier tosses the bottle out.
The water, however, is snatched away at the last second by another group of children who happen to be standing nearby.
In the YouTube clip of the truck driver, titled "U.S. military pelted by rocks" a truck convoy is traveling in Iraq while children throw rocks at the vehicles.
"Here is the corner where little (expletive) like to throw rocks at us," says a voice on the profanity-laced video. "According to our first sergeant, we're not allowed to engage these little (expletive). So I'm not going to have my weapon out the window. We're just going to videotape these little (expletive) basically destroying our vehicles."