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WikiLeaks video "Collateral Murder" depicts US military killing civilians in Baghdad

 
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 03:45 am
@Francis,
I am very familiar with the "lasting effects" on Vietnam veterans in my own country (say nothing of the US), Francis.

A shocking impact on the ex-soldiers themselves, say nothing of those close to them.

I am in no way excusing the actions of soldiers in these sorts of situations. Appalling. All too often.

I am seriously questioning what it is they are required to do.

This in no way lessens my horror, my abhorrence, of the the damage those soldiers do, in the process of doing their "duty".

The governments who who send these soldiers into these cynical, futile political exercises in warfare, are the ones I have the major gripe with.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:19 am
@Robert Gentel,
In any case, let's get back to the focus of this thread:

Quote:
WikiLeaks has released a classified US military video depicting the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad -- including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded. For further information please visit the special project website www.collateralmurder.com.


This is the sort of material we are normally not allowed to see. Because of its classification by the US military.

Congratulations to Wikileaks for making this video available to the public. And congratulations to those who supplied Wikileaks with the video material.

This is the sort of material we need to see, to properly understand what actually happens in situations like the Iraq invasion.



sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 06:23 am
@msolga,
I agree.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  9  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 07:35 am
@Finn dAbuzz,
Man, as apologia go, that sucked.

You should have just stuck to, "that is a disgusting, deplorable incident, but we shouldn't jump to any conclusions about how prevalent such incidents are."

The rest of your "can't make omelets without breaking eggs" mantra is just recycled bullshit, and morally unsupportable. They're our eggs, and we're responsible if they get broken, period.

These incidents are inevitable, which is why starting a war for anything except the most dire of circumstances should be unconscionable.
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 08:37 am
@msolga,
msolga wrote:

This is the sort of material we are normally not allowed to see. Because of its classification by the US military.

Congratulations to Wikileaks for making this video available to the public. And congratulations to those who supplied Wikileaks with the video material.

This is the sort of material we need to see, to properly understand what actually happens in situations like the Iraq invasion.



Exactly the point I was trying to make in my post. Thanks.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 01:12 pm
@hawkeye10,
I saw the word, but nearly every time such atrocities come out they get brushed off as not being "surprising". I don't think this should be surprising, it should be disgusting and often it's downplayed for lacking an element of surprise.
edgarblythe
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 01:52 pm
Apparently, we need to stop making omelets.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  6  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 02:13 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
That being said, for the sake of discussion, I am, for now, willing to assume that this incident was every bit as horrible as Robert charges.

No need to take Robert's word for it. Just watch the video.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Has there ever been or is there currently an army actually engaged in an effort to win a war that has been more focused on keeping these sorts of incidents from happening than the US military?

How would I know? The Pentagon is censoring all evidence to the contrary as "classified". This particular video only got on the internet because some anonymous staffer leaked it to wikileaks.com.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
It's easy to decry violence when you know you're not going to stop it, but still benefit from it.

How am I benefiting from the US army's violence in Iraq? President Bush's reasons for starting it have long been debunked.

Finn dAbuzz wrote:
Is hollow righteous outrage not disgusting in its own way?

Fortunately, we need not concern ourselves with this question, because in this case righteous outrage is perfectly justified. It's not hollow at all.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  6  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 02:15 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
Congratulations to Wikileaks for making this video available to the public.

Indeed. On the flip side, the fact that Wikileaks published it, two years after the fact, shows us that the mainstream media weren't doing their jobs. Where was the New York Times? Where was CNN?
hawkeye10
 
  0  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 03:11 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Where was the New York Times? Where was CNN?
I was not aware that the whistle blower attempted to use CNN and the NYT, but was turned down. Where did you hear that?
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 03:39 pm
Here's a link to an interesting perspective on the this incident from a Washington Post reporter:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/04/iraq_video_reuters_killed.html

Quote:
Host Neal Conan asked whether in retrospect something might have been done differently, and the tragedy would have been prevented.

"What could it be?" Finkel wondered. "An operation took place. And it was an operation with merit because it was preceded by soldiers just getting banged up all over the place and they had to do something about it. ... The operation was planned thoroughly for days and days and out they went. ...

"Here came some guys walking down the street -- one with a (rocket) launcher; one, at least one, with an AK(-47). And in the middle of them were two guys, one of whom had something long (a camera) hanging around his neck. And there was no word to the soldiers that journalists were going to be there.


From NPR's 4/6/10 boradcast of Morning Edition

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=125612657

Quote:
BOWMAN: Well, it shows a group of people walking down the street. Military age men, as they would say in the military. And it's in the new Baghdad section of the city. And it's just south of Sadr City, which was a notorious hotbed for the insurgency. And one is holding something. Maybe a couple are holding things.

And then the helicopter crew mistakenly believes that the cameraman is holding an RPG or a rocket propelled grenade. That came out later in the investigation by the Army. And you hear the crew talking about the insurgents. And at one point, one member of the crew says light them up - meaning to shoot at them.


Tom Bowman is NPR's Pentagon Correspondent

Quote:
MONTAGNE: Although I've looked at this video, they're talking about five to six individuals with weapons. You only see a couple of guys with something over their shoulder.

BOWMAN: Right. The investigation writer did find that a couple of guys did have weapons. One had an assault rifle. One had an RPG. And they found RPG rounds at the scene.

MONTAGNE: So what happened next?

BOWMAN: Well, then the shooting starts from the helicopter and it's horrific. And people are scattered all over the place and there are a number of bodies on the ground. And the Apaches are equipped with a 30 millimeter chain gun. A very, very deadly weapon, very accurate weapon. It's basically a heavy machine gun. But again, you look at the video, there's no evidence these people were threatening the helicopters at all. But on the other hand, again, they did find RPGs on some of these folks and assault weapons at the time.

And the other thing is, in the video you see a van pull up to start to collect the wounded and the helicopter starts shooting at the van, as well. And the men carrying the victims into the van scatter. And apparently two children were injured inside the van. When the whole thing ended, 12 people were dead.
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 03:41 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
...nearly every time such atrocities come out they get brushed off as not being "surprising". I don't think this should be surprising, it should be disgusting and often it's downplayed for lacking an element of surprise.


Or, as in this case, the civilian casualties are brushed off as mere "collateral damage".
Oops, a wee bit of an accident! As if such incidents are not common place.

Because, unlike during the Vietnam war, we had so little access to real information about what was actually happening in Iraq (& now, in Afghanistan) governments can tell us anything that suits them. It was the impact of the nightly news footages from correspondents in Vietnam that revealed reality of the situation to people all over the world. Two years of freedom of information requests later, we finally learn about this cover-up by the US military .. long after the event.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 03:44 pm
@msolga,
msolga wrote:
Or, as in this case, the civilian casualties are brushed off as mere "collateral damage".

Not just the "regular" civilian casualties, the casualties of Reuters journalists covering the civilian casualties, too.
msolga
 
  2  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 03:52 pm
@Thomas,
Yes, I was aware of the Reuters journalists from the video, Thomas. The camera of one of them was mistakenly believed to be a "weapon" by the helicopter crew. Which made him a target. It was shocking to see him being lined up again when he had been clearly seriously hurt by the first shooting. THEN the targeting of the van which arrived to collect the casualties. Horrible.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  0  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:30 pm
I have now had the opportunity to view the video and this probably will not come as a surprise to many of you but I fail to see any reason to feel outrage. Certainly not in the sense that the posters of the video are attempting to invoke.

As far as it being horrific, any film of people dying and being wounded is very disturbing, but frankly I've seen worse.
The video is hardly cinematic and is taken from a distance that, gratefully, doesn't provide much detail. There are several chilling moments: the soldier laughing, the wounded man crawling and the soldier running with the wounded child, but I don't think that too many people who are outraged about it found it impossible to watch it from beginning to end.

Everyone, though, as their own personal level of sensitivity and so I'm not about to question the sincerity of anyone's horror.

When it comes to feelings of disgust or outrage however, I think that there is valid opportunity for debate.

Both of those emotions build on the natural horror most people have for actual acts of violence in a way that is dependent upon opinions or beliefs that extend into motivation and causation.

Based on some of the comments made in this thread I expected to see a video that revealed American soldiers cackling with glee or roaring with triumph as they mowed down defenseless men women and children. I expected to see them playing a cruel game of cat and mouse with a wounded man trying to crawl to safety. I expected to see follow-up ground troops kicking the wounded and callously putting bullets in their heads.

Instead what I found was a video of a very controlled military operation where no one fired until receiving authority to engage and who stopped firing as soon as they believed their tactical goal was achieved and/or they were ordered to do so.

Since we now know that two of the victims were journalists it is far too easy to second guess the soldiers. I saw at least one of the group (who was not one of the journalists) who I am convinced was carrying a rifle, and I wasn't looking to try and spy combatants out.

No one who watches this video is watching the scene from the position of vulnerability those soldiers were in. We can argue all day whether or not it looked any of the crowd was armed, but we weren't there seeing it in living color and real time, and none of us have our lives dependent upon our opinion.

So what are the sources of outrage and disgust?

The US Army must be perfect in its execution of military operations?

US soldiers who are in very real life and death situations are supposed to care more for decorum and the sensibilities of those who get to witness their personal war on You Tube, than their own asses?

The US military should automatically assume it's soldiers are murderers and then only launch investigations to prove them innocent?

I get it, you don't like war.

But I also believe that a lot of you like the spoils of war more that you don't like the act, but refuse to consider that such a disgusting notion may be the truth.

And for those of you who want to focus on Iraq as being a war you didn't personally support, let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that this situation, unequivocally, involved only enemies of the American troops in the helicopter. Would you still have the same disgust and outrage?

Now let's assume there is a war which you actually support. Would the same mistakes made here trigger the same disgust and outrage?
Finn dAbuzz
 
  -2  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:36 pm
@Thomas,


Thomas wrote:

msolga wrote:
Or, as in this case, the civilian casualties are brushed off as mere "collateral damage".

Not just the "regular" civilian casualties, the casualties of Reuters journalists covering the civilian casualties, too.


Yes msolga don't forget that there were far more than regular civilian casualties involved in this incident, there were journalists!

And I'm supposed to take your outrage seriously Thomas?
dlowan
 
  5  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:36 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
How utterly expected of you.
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:47 pm
From today's NYT:

Quote:
Family Weeps at Video of Son’s Death in U.S. Strike
By MUJAHID YOUSEF
Published: April 6, 2010



MOSUL, Iraq " The family of a Reuters photographer killed in an American military airstrike watched the video of it late Monday and burst into tears as they saw what appeared to be the crews of two American Apache attack helicopters kill their son and 11 other people, gloating at what the crewmen seemed to think was a successful strike on insurgents.

“At last the truth has been revealed, and I’m satisfied God revealed the truth,” said Noor Eldeen, the father of the photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, who was 22 when he was killed in July 2007. “If such an incident took place in America, even if an animal were killed like this, what would they do?”

Other family members said Tuesday that the video was clear enough to remove any doubt about the identity of their son. Also among the dead was a Reuters driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.

The video was released Monday by Wikileaks.org, an online organization that said it had received it from a military whistle-blower and used donated computing power to decrypt it. United States military officials have confirmed that it appears to be authentic.

In the video, the group of men on the street in the eastern Baghdad district of New Baghdad on July 12, 2007, seemed to be mostly unarmed, although the chatter among the air crews shows they are convinced that the people on the ground have both AK-47s and a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. An American Army ground unit nearby was receiving fire from insurgents at the time.

On the video, there is at least one of the group of victims who appears to be carrying a rifle, but it is dangling at his side in a relaxed manner, and he does not appear to deploy it. In another scene, a large camera lens poking around the corner of a building is interpreted as a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher. The view of the men is obscured by a building as the attacking helicopter circles around it. The helicopter opens fire almost immediately after they come into view again.

“Look at those dead bastards,” one of the cockpit voices says. “Nice.”

When a vehicle arrives at the scene to help the wounded, the helicopters fire into it. United States troops call for a child who had been in the vehicle to be taken to the hospital.

“Well, it’s their fault bringing their kids into the battle,” one of the cockpit voices says.

The Associated Press quoted a spokesman for the United States Central Command, Navy Capt. Jake Hanzlik, as saying that the military had no reason to believe the video is a fake, but that they were still comparing the video and audio to see if it matched the original.

The United States military’s censored version of its report on the episode maintains that the crewmen acted appropriately and within the rules of engagement and that the Reuters employees were mixed in with a group of insurgents so their cameras were easily mistaken for weapons.


“My question is, how could those highly skilled American pilots with all their high-tech information not distinguish between a camera and a rocket launcher?” the photographer’s brother, Nabeel Noor-Eldeen, an archaeology professor at Mosul University, said on Tuesday after watching the video with the rest of the family a few hours earlier.


http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/world/middleeast/07baghdad.html?hpw
0 Replies
 
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 05:53 pm
I was interested in learning more about WikiLeaks, never having heard of the organization before.
Here's some of the information I found, if you're interested.:

Quote:
Wikileaks is a Swedish-hosted website launched in December 2006 that publishes anonymous submissions and leaks of sensitive documents from governments and other organizations, while preserving the anonymity of its sources. The website is run by The Sunshine Press,[1] and has said it was founded by Chinese dissidents, as well as journalists, mathematicians, and start-up company technologists from the U.S., Taiwan, Europe, Australia, and South Africa. ...<cont>


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikileaks
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  6  
Reply Tue 6 Apr, 2010 08:24 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:
And I'm supposed to take your outrage seriously Thomas?

I have long ago given up supposing you to do anything, Finn. Just do whatever you want.
 

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