“Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

Warning: Very disturbing video.

Wikileaks has now posted the video that–they have suggested–is one of the reasons the US government has been surveilling them. Here’s part of Wikileaks’ description:

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.

While there were armed men among those shot at, they were not engaging the Americans at all. At the moment the Americans started shooting, a number of the targeted men had their back to the helicopter flying overhead. And after they wound the Iraqi photo-journalist, they fly around a while waiting for an excuse to re-engage; they seem to admit he was unarmed when they hit him, and therefore can’t shoot further unless he shows a weapon.

When ground troops arrive at the site and discover two children among the wounded, they blame the Iraqis for the kids’ injuries (this is after 15:30 on the video).

“Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

“That’s right.”

Of course, this wasn’t a battle at all. It was unprovoked killing, including the killing of two journalists.

The release of this video, of course, comes on the same day that the NYT details how Special Forces killed three women in Afghanistan and then tried to cover up their actions.

After initially denying involvement or any cover-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a badly bungled American Special Operations assault in February, the American-led military command in Kabul admitted late on Sunday that its forces had, in fact, killed the women during the nighttime raid.

The admission immediately raised questions about what really happened during the Feb. 12 operation — and what falsehoods followed — including a new report that Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the nature of their deaths.

A NATO official also said Sunday that an Afghan-led team of investigators had found signs of evidence tampering at the scene, including the removal of bullets from walls near where the women were killed. On Monday, however, a senior NATO official denied that any tampering had occurred.

I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about civilian killings in the days ahead.

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248 replies
  1. tjbs says:

    It’s the presidents war ,he wanted it, he loves the killing and as he said he plans to revisit the killing fields in the coming YEARS.

    Peace man my ass.

        • fatster says:

          Yes! (And for those who may not know, here’s the photo with info.)

          And thanks so much for highlighting this, EW. I’ve been looking around this am in search of it (I’m not prepared to watch it yet, mind you, but good to know it’s available).

          • klynn says:

            EW’s warning is to be taken seriously. If you want to judge the content, you might want to read through the transcript of the raid before viewing.

            Marcy, I think I am missing where Wikileaks states that some people have guns. I went to the link above and I am missing the reference to guns.

              • klynn says:

                Thanks. I read that caption and somewhat disregarded it as I viewed the video. I did not interpret it as a definitive confirmation of “armed and dangerous”.

                Thanks for noting.

                  • klynn says:

                    Yep.

                    Here’s a quote for you and a link:

                    “It is precisely by declaring war against them (terrorists) that we fall into their trap, following them in a scored earth policy of burning bridges between civilizations and driving civilian populations with them over the precipice.”

                    -Frederic Megret

                  • bmaz says:

                    That distinction only applies to exceptional American gun toting 2nd Amendment wingnuts, not to muslim foreigners in their own countries and homes.

                    • skdadl says:

                      That was the psychology I was thinking about as I watched, hyperventilating all the way. Somebody has taught them to feel comfortable with the distinction, and thereby created monsters.

                      The reports from Afghanistan are even worse. Special Ops guys dug bullets out of the women’s bodies to make it look as though they’d died of stab wounds inflicted by … oh, hell … who can tell who they think “the enemy” is any more?

                    • Gitcheegumee says:

                      The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.

                      Aldous Huxley (1937)

            • fatster says:

              I am taking the warning very seriously. I haven’t viewed yet. It’ll take me awhile. Thank you.

      • banderson2 says:

        Will somebody please go to CNN and look at how they have santitized this entire video. If you watch the video from their perspective you would think that the American forces were totally justified in killing these individuals. No class CNN.

    • Jeff Kaye says:

      The UK Guardian now has an article up:

      A secret video showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency, was revealed by Wikileaks today.

      The footage of the July 2007 attack was made public in a move that will further anger the Pentagon, which has drawn up a report identifying the whistleblower website as a threat to national security. The US defence department was embarrassed when that confidential report appeared on the Wikileaks site last month alongside a slew of military documents.

      Also a short AP piece is getting picked up at various papers, and MSNBC has it on their site, with a link to the video

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Reading that article under the Guardian banner is going to undo a lot of propaganda by the US military and make its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan much harder.

        One would think that sort of cause and effect would suggest to an organization, which employs some of the best systems engineers in the world, that hiding these sorts of problems rather than admitting and correcting them, would be better for it and its mission, no matter the relatively few careers shortened by doing so. Has the US military never learned that the cover-up is always more harmful than the underlying crime? Or is that a lesson their political masters never learned to begin with?

        • PJEvans says:

          I’d say that their political masters are perfectly happy to cover things up, hoping that no one ever finds out.

          They really should know better: it’s always worse when people find out not only what was done, but also that it was hidden, and lied about to keep it hidden.

      • prostratedragon says:

        Oh, laughing, eh?

        (My line tends to be congested, so I often can’t get audio on youtubes.)

        Thank you for the additional links, and for your work in general.

    • banderson2 says:

      It was reported on MSNBC by Dylan Ratigan earlier today. He had a great commentary, however it will probably not receive much reporting.

  2. JTMinIA says:

    That made me cry and then get angry and then cry some more.

    I’m been trying my best to pretend that the b*st*rds are only in Washington and Blackwater.

    I don’t care what sort of social pressure made that pilot the person he was. He’s a sick f*ck.

  3. prostratedragon says:

    Just watched this at the wikil site after having seen a description at ThProgr. I kind of wish I’d seen it cold, because it’s hard not to see what one thinks one knows. But what I seem to see is men carrying things that do not particularly look like weapons, and are not being handled like weapons even in an at-ease position. The situation hardly has the appearance of some kind of action about to take place —did anyone even really look up at the chopper before firing opened?— so there would have been time to react if a deployment had suddenly broken out. At wikil they refer to a 38 minute version of this tape, maybe at youtube, which I’ll watch later if I can track down.

    As for the quote chosen by someone who keeps saying she can’t write a headline, well, let the speaker never get them out of his head.

  4. BoxTurtle says:

    Even money says this doesn’t even make the evening news. It won’t be the first Iraq massacre to get a big yawn.

    Boxturtle (Besides, the girl is likely Moslem so what’s the big deal?)

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Probably Moslem as well, with that name. Besides, reporters are the enemies of freedom. Look at how they treated Sarah!

        Boxturtle (And the heck of it is, the people who think as above don’t see anything wrong with it)

  5. BoxTurtle says:

    And here’s another thing that bothers me: These are American soldiers. Not stormtroopers, Republican Guards or Pesh Murga. They’ve graduated from High school, survived boot camp and specialist school, and they’ve got combat experience. Yet they see nothing wrong with their actions.

    What are we creating? And what are our officers doing?? Never mind possible criminal charges, doesn’t this at least deserves a reduction in rank for an embarassing screwup? Whatever they’re doing is what they’re taught.

    The hell with the geneva conventions, gas ’em in their holes and torch ’em when they come up for air.

    Boxturtle (Heavy flamethrower use will increase oil company profits, too)

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      What are we creating?

      We’ll find out…up close and real personal… when they come back home to the US.

      • BoxTurtle says:

        Aye, there’s the rub. I’m sure many of the returnees will seek help dealing with their experiences, even though the military shrinks report on their condition and treatment plans.

        Boxturtle (*pause to clean sarcastic froth from my monitor*)

          • Jeff Kaye says:

            Re drones… take a gander at this, from last September in Las Vegas!

            The Premier UAS Conference on the West Coast

            UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS

            Platforms, Payloads & Opportunities

            Special Military Pricing

            Over 25 Experts from JCS, NORTHCOM, SOUTHCOM,
            HQ USAF, Army FORSCOM, AF ACC, OPNAV N86, HQMC, JUAS COE,
            AFRL, Army TRADOC, DARPA, Canadian Forces, Army ASE,
            AMSAA, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin,
            BAE Systems, L-3, Space Data, Sagetech & CapRock
            — Emerging Service UAS Needs & Requirements

            • Joint Chiefs of Staff • NORTHCOM • SOUTHCOM
            • USAF • Navy • Army • USMC • Canadian Forces

            — A Look Ahead at Future UAS Development:
            Next-Gen Hunter Killer, Tier II, Tier III, NOCTUA,
            JUSTAS, N-UCAS, Survivability and more
            I Key UAS Program Updates: BAMS, Sky Warrior, Fire Scout,
            Desert Hawk III, Global Hawk, Reaper, Hunter, and more

            — The Coming Enemy UAS Threat: Challenges and Solutions

            — Emerging UAS Technologies for Urban Warfare

            — Special Presentations by:
            • Lt. General David Deptula – HQ USAF/A2
            • Brigadier General Bob Felderman – NORAD/USNORTHCOM

            Unmanned Aircraft Systems

            Funding for Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) research, development, testing and training remains at an all-time high as DoD continues to funnel billions of dollars in the ever-burgeoning UAS industry. Market analysts have continued to forecast increased growth in an industry that has already grown by the billions in just the last decade. In fact, the Air Force will reach a major milestone next year as plans call for the purchase of more unmanned aircraft than regular aircraft for the first time ever.

            The MIC is growing ever stronger, and democracy weaker. God help us for the war they have this planned for, because they seriously believe they can control the entire planet.

            • PJEvans says:

              I expect that they’ll use them here, to watch and control anti-government demonstrations. Or to end them with force.

              (If we have to go to pitchforks and torches, we may be in big trouble.)

          • gramps409 says:

            Thanks. Here’s another: (you may hear the theme from “The Twilight Zone” while reading)

            LA Times, 2/21/10
            “In a low, tan building in Nevada, Air Force personnel sit in padded chairs and control aircraft over Iraq and Afghanistan. They are 7,500 miles away, yet feel more affected by war than ever.”

            http://freedomsyndicate.com/fair0000/latimes00134.html

          • thatvisionthing says:

            Blackwater has or had an unmanned blimp. A few years ago they wanted to build a paramilitary training camp in Potrero, which is rural east San Diego county, close to the Mexican border. They said there would be no air traffic at the camp, but they weren’t exactly believable, and the suspicion was that they were out to snag drug and immigration control contracts.

            From a 2007 Virginia article on the blimp:

            http://hamptonroads.com.nyud.net/node/433181

            The Coast Guard and federal Drug Enforcement Administration, for example, could use the airships to catch drug smugglers and monitor shipping channels. The Department of Homeland Security could fly them to thwart illegal border crossings, Ram said.

            Potrero’s planning group approved the project and then got recalled en masse by the citizens of Potrero, and Blackwater gave up on Potrero and then snuck into a building three blocks from the border, in Otay Mesa, south of San Diego:

            http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/5/2/14927/89511

            To hide their involvement in the permit procurement, Blackwater filed for permits for a 61000 sq ft under the names of two subsidiaries, Southwestern Law Enforcement” and “Raven Development Group” for a “vocational school” in Otay Mesa, California. None of the permits mentioned the fact that the “school” would include indoor shooting ranges and other military facilities. Government officials only discovered the permits were from Blackwater last week and it is unknown if other permits exist for facilities elsewhere under similar shell companies.

            The City of San Diego tried to stop it but was overruled by a federal judge — I remember a Daily Kos diary chalking it up to corporate personhood, that denying Blackwater the permit would interfere with the person Blackwater’s 14th Amendment rights: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/6/5/111058/7725

            I lost track of the story then, but Citizen’s Oversight Projects (website now Lutz for Assembly) had a wiki on it. This is apparently the web address, but it won’t come up for me now: http://lutzforassembly.com/Common/BlackwaterOtay

            The other thing I can tell you about this is that a land use hearing for the Potrero project was held in the San Diego County building in April 2005. CRAZY security. So many guns, so many police. There was a demonstration outside. One of the signs read: Killing for Hire is a Felony.
            http://farm1.static.flickr.com/169/448010672_8e8c182030.jpg

            • thatvisionthing says:

              The other thing I can tell you about this is that a land use hearing for the Potrero project was held in the San Diego County building in April 2005.

              Sorry, April 2007

      • captjjyossarian says:

        Yes exactly, we are teaching our military and private contractors(Xe/Blackwater & co) to murder civilians. Where will they be put to use next?

        Battle? Our military’s new definition of a battle is civilians walking down the street.

        The only heartening thing is that the rank and file in our military do not approve of what is going on in Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve spoken with returning vets, they think Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney… should be in prison.

        The military chain of command however… I bet that Cheney and Rumsfeld have packed it with bad apples. And the legacy of that is going to be with us for a long long time.

      • Leen says:

        This is all ready happening.
        thousands of them sitting at bars across the nation losing themselves temporarily in liquid escape and comfort zones. Walk outside the bar pick fights, think about committing suicide or do. Sitting in VA waiting rooms (have talked to quite a few when I have taken my WWII dad to the VA). Talked to many who are picking up their prescription mood altering drugs to supposedly help them with their PTSD. One young man who I have talked with repeatedly (considered taking himself out) has shared how difficult it is to talk with counselors at the VA who have never served in a war. Especially difficult to talk about killing in an unnecessary invasion. He has shared this type of counseling is so ineffective. Hooked him up with some Vietnam Vets. They have had plenty to talk about.
        Suicide rate among veterans surges
        http://findarticles.com/p/news-articles/arab-american-news-the/mi_8078/is_20100116/suicide-rate-veterans-surges/ai_n50816211/

        These returning soldiers need to talk with people who care. People who know their lives were used by the Bush administration in a destructive way

    • bobschacht says:

      What are we creating?

      To paraphrase, War corrupts, and absolute war corrupts absolutely.

      President Bush spoke with dripping disapproval about the GWOT “bloodthirsty killers.” Well, as Walt Kelly once wrote, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We are becoming what we despise most about our enemies.

      Bob in AZ

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I suspect Lord Acton would agree. His full original quote offers more:

        “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”

  6. Leen says:

    If you take the time to talk with returned or returning American soldiers. Take the time for them to feel relaxed. You will more than likely hear some horrifying stories. Two young men that I knew as children who ended up going to Iraq when they were 19 and 20 have shared stories of kicking down many doors at night and terrifying Iraqi’s. Stories of using Iraqi people for target practice.

    If you have not listened to the testimonies of American soldiers at “Winter Soldier” a must listen. Did we see any of these guys on the MSM?

    Mike Prysner “the terrorist is me” “all I could feel is shame”


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iTdxBECos8

  7. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The NYT was a day late and two dollars short on that story, as Glennzilla points out today.

  8. earlofhuntingdon says:

    A 30mm round is about 1.2 inches in diameter. It is an anti-tank or anti-aircraft weapon. For comparison, a .50 caliber round, half an inch in diameter, fired by a sniper would blow off a limb. A 30mm will obliterate a body.

    Comparing the video and voice over, the pilots seem inexperienced, seeing ghosts where there are only men. The objects in the mens’ hands were not clearly weapons. There was no firing or aggressive behavior. Indeed, the men ignored what was obviously a low-flying aircraft that encircled them more than once. This might have been excusable in 2003; by 2007 it was negligent homicide or worse. Crazy fuckers with too much testosterone, too little training and shit for senior officers.

  9. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Kudos to whomever freed this video from those who would want to bury it, along with other evidence of the mistakes and crimes of war.

  10. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Oh, and the first estimate of “40” individuals a few seconds into the video was off by a factor of 3 at least. Ghosts, indeed; it’s what they’ve made of men.

    The repeated use of “bastards”, “pricks”, etc., language seems to indicate active hate, perhaps racism, which would increase the likelihood of mistakes, with mistakes inevitably turning into crimes as the behavior is encouraged and protected.

    Shooting even enemy soldiers, there’s no indication these are soldiers, caring for their wounded and killed does not seem consistent with the laws of war.

    • klynn says:

      Shooting even enemy soldiers, there’s no indication these are soldiers, caring for their wounded and killed does not seem consistent with the laws of war.

      (my bold)

      You should write a diary on this. It ties into Marcy’s previous post. It is a pattern.

    • Synoia says:

      You are too kind:

      Shooting even enemy soldiers, there’s no indication these are soldiers, caring for their wounded and killed does not seem consistent with the laws of war.

      It’s a War Crime. I had that drummed into me over, and over, and over again while in the CCF at School, and at a Military University. Over, and over, and over again.

      • banderson2 says:

        You are damn right it is a war crime. According to the Geneva Convention you do not kill unarmed individuals trying to help wounded. As a matter of fact according to the Geneva Convention we as foreign forces are obligated to assist the wounded.

    • BoxTurtle says:

      From Froomkin:

      Reuters released this statement from David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters news: “The deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh three years ago were tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones. We continue to work for journalist safety and call on all involved parties to recognise the important work that journalists do and the extreme danger that photographers and video journalists face in particular. The video released today via Wikileaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result.”

      That seems a remarkably mild statement for someone who just watched their reporters murdered.

      Boxturtle (Dare I say it’s another *yawn*?)

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s the phraseology of lawyers, attuned to the sound of continued access, which drowns out more reasonable emotional and rational responses to evidence of highly questionable, at best, behavior.

      • Rayne says:

        Well, I can’t blame the editors for what seems a banal statement; they have been fighting to get information by FOIA since the attack and are likely concerned about both access to sources for reporting as well as the safety of other Reuters journalists.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Discretion may be the better part of valor, but it’s not the role of a journalist or his or her editor. A discreet but more aggressive stance would have been to point out how understandable it was, given the potential embarrassment from this video, that it took so much effort to get it. This isn’t a fog of war problem; it is a fog of leadership.

          • Gitcheegumee says:

            Your comment reminded me of a Chomsky quote I ran across earlier today:

            The media want to maintain their intimate relation to state power. They want to get leaks, they want to get invited to the press conferences. They want to rub shoulders with the Secretary of State, all that kind of business.
            To do that, you’ve got to play the game, and playing the game means telling their lies, serving as their disinformation apparatus.

            Chomsky, Noam, Chronicles of Dissent, Non-Conspiracy Analysis of Propaganda System, October 24, 1986

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              Journalism is made harder when a few top players make as much money as those they cover, sharing neighborhoods, schools and restaurants, and set the tone for the rest of their shrinking news organizations. That is, they make coverage neighbor friendly rather than oppositional, which is when objectivity, proportion and courage fail. And that’s when citizens start losing access to the information they need to hold their government responsible for its conduct, a self-reinforcing predicament.

              • Gitcheegumee says:

                And that’s when citizens start losing access to the information they need to hold their government responsible for its conduct, a self-reinforcing predicament…….

                And I guess that’s the WHOLE point of it from THEIR perspective,isn’t it?

                I always thought that if a reporter wasn’t pissing somebody off, chances are pretty good that they WEREN’T doing their job…

                BTW, wasn’t there a PR firm that embedded reporters for the White House?One of the the owners of the firm was married to Scooter Libby’s sister. I can’t remember the name offhand. Began with an R,I think.

                Wasn’t there a hit list of news organizations and reporters who were graded by this firm as to their positive or negative reportage of Iraq related stories?

          • Rayne says:

            I wonder if we are the same page here. As an editor my concern would be for the safety of my team as much as for the pursuit of the truth — and I don’t think I’ve seen anything so far which assures me that the military is acting in good faith on a consistent basis. They don’t like the coverage and POP! another journalist is “accidentally” shot. Kind of hard to do reporting from the field if you’re dead, right?

            There’s a balancing act here; we’re not talking about beltway media bimbos sucking down quail wings and cocktail weenies while waiting for a canned quote. We’re talking about trying to get the truth in one of the most dangerous places on earth from what are clearly some of the most dangerous people on earth as the video above shows.

            I’ll bet you dollars to donuts the editorial team for the murdered journos already knew most of what we’re now seeing. Issuing a hard ass statement after the fact isn’t going to serve the cause; spending the effort on investigation and interviewing sources will.

            [edit: I should add I say this as a former managing editor of a news outlet.]

            • earlofhuntingdon says:

              There’s a big difference between a hard ass statement and the milquetoast just offered up. There are a host of options between burnt rib eye and saltless soda crackers.

              As an editor, if that’s what happens to your people – they are set up and virtually murdered by the troops whose conduct they are critical of – that’s the story in bold bloody headlines. Try not embedding your reporters, try using tested locals, anything but spiking the story. Because if that’s what a military is willing to do to a non-cooperative news outlet, what is it doing to the local population over which holds forth as an occupying force? What is it and its sponsoring government doing back home when such tactics are seen to be successful?

                • Gitcheegumee says:

                  Stars and Stripes,an Army news publication, won a Polk award for their three part series on the Rendon Group:

                  Pentagon Hires Rendon Group to Profile and Rate Journalists …

                  Aug 28, 2009
                  The US Army in Afghanistan has admitted it pays a private company to produce background profiles on journalists covering the war. The Pentagon has …
                  http://www.democracynow.org/2009/8/28/pentagon_hires_rendon_group_to_profile – Related videos

                  Journalists recent work examined before embeds | Stars and StripesAug 24, 2009 … U.S. public affairs officials in Afghanistan acknowledged to Stars … U.S. forces is subject to a background profile by The Rendon Group, …
                  http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=64348 – Cached – Similar

                  Column: When ‘secret’ may not mean secret | Stripes BlogsMar 15, 2010 … the private Rendon Group to analyze journalists’ work in Afghanistan. … Stars and Stripes variously characterized the Rendon Group’s

                  • Gitcheegumee says:

                    Column: When ‘secret’ may not mean secret | Stripes BlogsMar 15, 2010 … the private Rendon Group to analyze journalists’ work in Afghanistan. … Stars and Stripes variously characterized the Rendon Group’s …
                    blogs.stripes.com/blogs/right…/when-‘secret’-may-not-mean-secret – Cached

                    (Sorry for the incomplete link on earlier comment.)

              • Rayne says:

                “Tested locals”? You mean like the ones Lincoln Group bought?

                It’s all really easy to demand. Theory, practice, you know what they say.

                  • Rayne says:

                    You’re trying to put words in my mouth. Show me where I suggest that.

                    The only thing which will do justice for those journalists is more investigation and a complete disclosure of everything which led up to their deaths and the cover-up afterward.

                    Editorial statements, no matter whether they are pointed or moot aren’t going to provide that justice.

                    • earlofhuntingdon says:

                      You’ll note that mine was a question and an invitation to clarify, not an accusation.

                      Editorial statements are public versions of locker room pep talks. If they don’t match the private ones, journalists will quickly read the mixed message that sharper, harder investigative reporting is probably not wanted by those who control their careers.

                    • Rayne says:

                      Reuters’ reporters are surely more savvy than that and can understand the difference between editors’ public statements and what they experience back end every day for editorial support.

                      Or they wouldn’t be sticking their necks out in places like Iraq.

                      You see a bunch of reporters with Reuters’ bylines suddenly appearing elsewhere, then you know there’s a real problem.

                    • Gitcheegumee says:

                      This piece may be of interest to you about the overall drop off in reporting in the second half of 2007,the same time frame when this incident occurred:

                      Why News of Iraq Dropped | Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ)The next largest component, events in Iraq, dealt with everything from the bloodshed … has coincided with a significant decrease in coverage from the war zone as well. Through the first half of 2007, about half the stories from Iraq … From July through October, that number fell to a little more than one-third. …
                      http://www.journalism.org/commentary…/why_news_iraq_dropped – Cached

                    • Rayne says:

                      The public was suffering from burn-out over the war, they’d been sold a bill of goods about the surge and its expected success. Add fresh meat like the presidential campaign, along with an out of control mortality rate among journalists covering the Iraq War, and you’ve got news organizations who are going to yank reporters out of the field.

                      (Note at that link the stats about the number of journalists killed by U.S. fire, and how this conflict compares to others in terms of overall numbers of journalists killed. The journalists and their editors grok this deep in their bones.)

            • emptywheel says:

              Well, I’d also be sensitive to the fact that the families of these journalists have no choice but to have this played out in most public fashion right now. Had Reuters gotten the video first, the families could have prepared themselves and/or Reuters could have edited it differently.

            • PJEvans says:

              I remember that hotel in Baghdad that was ‘accidentally’ hit by friendly fire … the hotel that just happened to be where most of the reporters were living.

      • Synoia says:

        It depends. If the Reuters press release was written in the UK, it a damming statement. In the US there would be enormous hyperbole; in the UK understatement, with a very sharp point, as the film speaks for itself.

    • Leen says:

      Blogs clearly covering this video first. MSM finally on it today

      Still encouraging folks to get out there and talk to returning and returned soldiers. You will hear horrific stories first hand. And remember the Winter Soldier hearings that the MSM barely covered.

      One horrific story after the next
      http://www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier/

  11. alabama says:

    The ending of this is not in our hands, it’s in the hands of other people (and when they end it, we will call them our friends).

  12. 1der says:

    Just (whose) War?

    Washington Post reporter David Finkel described the incident — and the video — in great detail in his September 2009 book, “The Good Soldiers”. A summary can be found here.

    Finkel also described a review session after Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich, commander of the Army’s 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment and his soldiers returned to base, which “concluded that everyone had acted appropriately.” (Kauzlarich was also involved in the Army’s Pat Tillman cover-up, and later told ESPN that the reluctance of Tillman’s parents to accept the military’s story that he was killed by enemy action, rather than friendly fire, was the unfortunate result of their lack of Christian faith.)
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/04/05/wikileaks-exposes-video-o_n_525569.html

    Ann Coulter: “we should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”

    Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin: “…because we’re a Christian nation, because our foundation and our roots are Judeo-Christian … and the enemy is a guy named Satan.”

    Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

    “We in the army of God, in the house of God, kingdom of God have been raised for such a time as this,” Boykin said last year.
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/1016-01.htm

    (Pat Tillman): “I can see it like a movie screen,” Baer said. “We were outside of (a city in southern Iraq) watching as bombs were dropping on the town. We were at an old air base, me, Kevin and Pat, we weren’t in the fight right then. We were talking. And Pat said, ‘You know, this war is so f— illegal.’

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/09/25/MNGD7ETMNM1.DTL#ixzz0kG4omyDa

    Criminals. And soon it will be down the memory hole and on to stopping Obama’s takeover of the country. Maybe someone’s shown this video to the Commander-in-Chief, I hope.

    • tjbs says:

      He doesn’t give a shit about human beings.
      He’s a war criminal just like the last one.

      And let’s drop the oath to preserve and defend the constitution, as if these bastards even read it. It’s one of many lies.

      Oh yea don’t forget to support the troops that committed these murders just to remain patriotic.

    • Gitcheegumee says:

      re: Jerry Boykin:

      The Fellowship,(C Street Group), also made inroads within the U.S. military, particularly the officers’ ranks. Through an entity known as the Officers Christian Fellowship (OCF), the Fellowship tapped officers in all the services and future officers in the service academies to become “ambassadors for Christ in uniform.” The motto of the OCF is “Pray, Discover, Obey.” The Christian Military Fellowship served as the OCF’s counterpart among the enlisted ranks.

      Eventually, the Fellowship would count some of the military’s top leaders among its members. They include… Iran-contra figure Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, and, perhaps even more controversial than North, Army Lt. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, the military head of Defense Secretary Rumsfeld’s intelligence branch.
      In 2003, Boykin, in a speech to the First Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida, referred to the United States as a “Christian nation” and, that in reference to a Somali warlord, he stated, “ I knew that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.” The reverberations of Boykin’s comments were felt around the world. But his allies and Fellowship compatriots, Rumsfeld, Myers, Kansas Representative Todd Tiahrt, and most important, George W. Bush, refused to condemn him. Calls for Boykin’s reassignment when unheeded. Soon afterwards, Boykin’s Pentagon intelligence group was discovered to have been involved with the torture and sexual molestation of prisoners in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The sexual molestation of prisoners included male and female teens being held in Iraq.

      “Christian Mafia”, Insider Magazine

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Do they read Isaiah I wonder?

      Isaiah 59

      1 Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:

      2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

      3 For your hands are defiled with blood, and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue hath muttered perverseness.

      4 None calleth for justice, nor any pleadeth for truth: they trust in vanity, and speak lies; they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity.

      5 They hatch cockatrice’s eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.

      6 Their webs shall not become garments, neither shall they cover themselves with their works: their works are works of iniquity, and the act of violence is in their hands.

      7 Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths.

      8 The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made them crooked paths: whosoever goeth therein shall not know peace.

      9 Therefore is judgment far from us, neither doth justice overtake us: we wait for light, but behold obscurity; for brightness, but we walk in darkness.

      10 We grope for the wall like the blind, and we grope as if we had no eyes: we stumble at noon day as in the night; we are in desolate places as dead men.

      11 We roar all like bears, and mourn sore like doves: we look for judgment, but there is none; for salvation, but it is far off from us.

      12 For our transgressions are multiplied before thee, and our sins testify against us: for our transgressions are with us; and as for our iniquities, we know them;

      13 In transgressing and lying against the LORD, and departing away from our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood.

      14 And judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.


      I don’t know, I was looking for the one line about God turning away from people praying with blood on their hands, but the whole thing just seems like music to the video. “Truth is fallen in the street, and equity cannot enter.”

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Isaiah 1:15, the Lord says:

        And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

        Same guy those generals think is their mascot?

    • geminorange says:

      Discussing the battle against a Muslim warlord in Somalia, Boykin told another audience, “I knew my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God and his was an idol.”

      Am I wrong? I was led to believe that Allah is the Muslem name for the God of Abraham, who is worshipped also by Jews and Christians. I wonder who Boykin’s god is.

      • hackworth1 says:

        Boykin is like most Christians. What he knows comes from what the preacher tells him. Boykin is an idiot.

      • john in sacramento says:

        I wonder who Boykin’s god is.

        Moloch?

        … modern thinking holds that the name in fact derives from the Punic root MLK, meaning offering or sacrifice, and suggests that Moloch refers not to the name of a god but to a particular form of ritual sacrifice.

        […]

        Several Biblical accounts record the followers’ belief that by appeasing Moloch with the lives of burnt children and animals, he would renew the vitality of their king, who in turn could then reap a plentiful harvest. That, however, is not to say that it was a tidy affair – on days of sacrifice, drums and cymbals had to be played at maximum ferocity to drown out screams of burning children.

        […]

        http://blog.aurorahistoryboutique.com/moloch-worship-in-ancient-canaan/

  13. manys says:

    Now we know who the military and government are talking about when they talk about “insurgents.”

    • Casual Observer says:

      Don’t forget to include the wedding parties. They seem to be insurgent hotbeds as well. I believe both Iraqi and Afghan law require that wedding vows explicitly include the phrase “Do you [name] take this insurgent to be your…”. This is why they draw so much allied fire.

      • thatvisionthing says:

        Tom Englehardt (tomdispatch) has been following wedding party stories.

        http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/174954
        The Wedding Crashers
        A Short Till-Death-Do-Us-Part History of Bush’s Wars
        By Tom Engelhardt

        [Jenna Bush’s wedding] was early May of this year. Less than two months later, halfway across the world, another tribal affair was underway. The age of the bride involved is unknown to us, as is her name. No reporters were clamoring to get to her section of the mountainous backcountry of Afghanistan near the Pakistani border. We know almost nothing about her circumstances, except that she was on her way to a nearby village, evidently early in the morning, among a party 70-90 strong, mostly women, “escorting the bride to meet her groom as local tradition dictates.”

        It was then that the American plane (or planes) arrived, ensuring that she would never say her vows. “They stopped in a narrow location for rest,” said one witness about her house party, according to the BBC. “The plane came and bombed the area.” The district governor, Haji Amishah Gul, told the British Times, “So far there are 27 people, including women and children, who have been buried. Another 10 have been wounded. The attack happened at 6.30AM. Just two of the dead are men, the rest are women and children. The bride is among the dead.”

        U.S. military spokespeople flatly denied the story. They claimed that Taliban insurgents had been “clearly identified” among the group. “[T]his may just be normal, typical militant propaganda,” said 1st Lieutenant Nathan Perry.

        and

        Tomgram: Are Afghan Lives Worth Anything?
        Posted by Tom Engelhardt at 7:09am, July 7, 2009.

        One early dawn in August 2008, writes Gopal, American helicopters first descended on Garloch for a six-hour raid:

        “The Americans claim there were gunshots as they left. The villagers deny it. Regardless, American bombers swooped by the village just after the soldiers left and dropped a payload on one house. It belonged to Haiji Qadir, a pole-thin, wizened old man who was hosting more than forty relatives for a wedding party. The bomb split the house in two, killing sixteen, including twelve from Qadir’s family, and wounding scores more… The malek [chief] went to the province’s governor and delivered a stern warning: protect our villagers or we will turn against the Americans.”

        That passage caught my eye because, to the best of my knowledge, I’m the only person in the U.S. who has tried to keep track of the wedding parties wiped out, in whole or part, by American military action since the Bush administration invaded Afghanistan in November 2001. With Gopal’s report from Garloch, that number, by my count, has reached five (only three of which are well documented in print).

  14. Jim White says:

    I haven’t had the courage to watch the video yet. I have, however, put together a diary where I point out that the use of military deception is a tactic specifically assigned to SOCOM. McChrystal has made very good use of deception through the years.

    • prostratedragon says:

      If you ask me, he’s still at it. Just saying.

      Takes me back to the early days after the planes attacks, when we started hearing so much about “wedding parties” and on-line discussions of the same being used as cover for planned attacks.

  15. Mary says:

    A couple of things Froomkin’s piece added – first, that Assange and Wikileaks are promising more footage of another incident; second that the van driver was a good samaritan, on his way to take his children to be tutored, who heard the cries for help.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Which makes for a double tragedy that will burn resentment and determination to oppose our presence into the hearts and minds of those we claim to be fighting for. This incident is almost certainly not representative of the work and sacrifice of our men and women in the field. It does, however, undo much of it, thanks in large measure to its being covered up by the chain of command.

    • klynn says:

      Now, I have finally heard a strong Easter message on selflessness. Thank you for pointing out the report on the van driver.

  16. orionATL says:

    from the voices of the american soldiers in the choppers,

    it was absolutely clear to me that these soldiers went out to kill that day;

    they were looking for iraquis to kill, any iraqui would do.

    they were hunting for humans that day to kill as they might have hunted deer at home.

    thblood-lust and human hunting were involved is made even clearer in the shooting of the van occupants.

    the soldiers had absolutely no way to know if the van driver, et al were doing g what you and i
    would have done –stop and help a wounded man crawling on the sidewalk-

    or were insurgents.

    the presence or abscense of weapons is also not even remotely a justification for the killing that occured.

    iraq probably has nearly as many gun toting civilians as columbia does.

    furthermore, no ne on the ground seems even remotely concerned about the prescence of the two apaches overhead.

    armed anti-american men would have run for cover before the choppers ever got into position.

    the general approach to decision-making about killing was similar tu the careless and uncaring decision making that we sometimes see in

    -american police shootings

    -the dod/ci hoovering up “aq’s” to torture.

  17. HitEscape says:

    It’s a sickening video to watch. The gunner, impatiently whining “c’mon” to get the fire order on the last victim was chilling as well.

    At 4:08, the “RPG” looks like a telephoto lens to me. If the victim knew what hair trigger firing orders these guys operate on, he would not have crouched to sneak a picture around the building.

    The helicopters are clearly visible to the victims and they do not assume any defensive or aggressive postures. The aggression seems largely in the minds of the helicopter gunners.

    It is like watching a video game and the players are laughing and joking at the carnage. These will be your neighbors when their “tour” is finished and “we” asked them to do it.

    Shooting up the rescuers is absolutely indefensible. It was like they wanted to finish off the last potential witness and didn’t care who they shot to do it.

    Can you imagine if this was occupied Germany or Japan, post WWII?

  18. Synoia says:

    The second helicopter shot the wounded, while they were crawling on the ground.

    That’s a clear War Crime.

    • SouthernDragon says:

      Buddhism

      “…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?” Samyutta NIkaya v. 353

      Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” Udana-Varga 5:18

      Confucius

      “Tse-kung asked, ‘Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?’
      Confucius replied, ‘It is the word ‘shu’ — reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'” Doctrine of the Mean 13.3

  19. tanbark says:

    Marcie: “I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about civilian killings in the days ahead.”

    I have to say, I assume this is sarcasm.

    But good on you for doing this thread, Marcie. These days, very few progressive bloggers want to talk about Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

    I mean, given Obama’s sustaining and ratcheting up of Bush’s policies, I would be astounded if his administration or the media paid any more attention to this than if it were Donald Rumsfeld being interviewed on FauxNews.

    And if anyone needed to be reminded about the insanity of perpetuating the lunatic crusades, then just read this little piece about Hamid Kharzai
    flouncing his feathers at the U.S:

    http://news.antiwar.com/2010/04/04/karzai-slams-west-threatens-to-join-insurgency/

    Here, we have this “leader”, who is a wholly-created sockpuppet of the U.S., now so desperate to appear to have some degree of independence from us, that he’s threatening to start co-operating with the insurgents in Afghanistan.
    I would like to see Obama or Rahm, or Reid, or Pelosi, spin this.

    It’s as good a yardstick for the insanity that’s going on there, as we’ve seen lately. But then, there’s lots of time left for more and better.

  20. Margaret says:

    I can’t watch that video. Thanks for posting it, it’s important that you did but I can’t watch people dying anymore. I don’t watch war movies, much less the real thing. Orahma is no better than Bush in this instance. None.

  21. Kassandra says:

    OT/// but something Marcy may want to get her teeth into. I haven’t seen it anywhere.
    Thom Hartmann was talking about this today, so I Googled it and found THIS:

    “McCain/Lieberman Bill Destroys Habeas Corpus”

    This, combined with the basic repeal of posse comitatus under Bush Plus NSPD 51 would pave the way completely for fascism/totalitarianism in the US.

    And, since we ARE in WWIII, it’s just being called something else,( the long war, the endless war) wouldn’t fascism be a fine thing for those in power?

    Because I haven’t heard the word “peace” coming from any politicians lips for years now.

    • bmaz says:

      Keep in mind that the breadth of Habeas jurisdiction and basis for relief is statutory, not Constitutional and is thus presumably subject to Congressional tinkering. But it is not McCain and Lieberman you need to be worried about, it is Obama and his political wheeler dealer chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.

  22. tanbark says:

    Of Obama: as has been said before, without much exaggeration:

    “We needed FDR, and we got Herbert Hoover.”

  23. tanbark says:

    It’s tough to engineer a jobless recovery, in which Wall Street is lookin’ pretty good, while the congressional jellyfish herd, led by the Portuguese-Man-O’-Centrism in the white house, is doing jackshit about extending the unemployment benefits for millions of jobless americans.

    In Marion County, in South Carolina, unemployment is at 24%, according to the Myrtle Beach Sun News, today.

    Williamsburg County, adjacent to Marion, has a higher percentage of black South Carolinians, and their unemployment is probably higher.

    • Badwater says:

      The Senate failed to act on unemployment. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma blocked the Senate from bringing a thirty-day extension of the program up for a vote. The Senate is a separate branch of government. Why bash Obama?

  24. workingclass says:

    The neo-cons wanted to rule the world by force of arms. I guess they still do. They ended up with the Three Stooges to implement their grand plan. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Those guys couldn’t fight their way out of Beauty School. Larceny was their specialty. I doubt they knew the subtle difference between war and murder. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it. Pretty soon you are gonna get the bill in the form of runaway inflation. Same way we paid for the VietNam war.

  25. Jo Fish says:

    All those fucking Apache pilots wanted to do was RTB (Return To Base) with no ammo left in their guns. There was no way to confirm that the folks on the ground were armed “insurgents” and the ROE over there must be “if it fucking moves, has brown skin, and loose clothing” shoot it DEAD.

    That video makes me sick and not proud of my time as a military helicopter pilot.

    No wonder they love us so much. Why wasn’t Dick Cheney in that van, seeing how much the Iraqis were greeting us as liberators who kill them and laugh about it.

  26. wirerat1 says:

    At about 1:36 on the 39:14 minute version of the video, the two photographers meet up with a group of Iraqis. The soliders are already under the impression their slung cameras are weapons, but at this point the photographers make things bad for themselves.

    At 1:41, it looks like the lead photographer picks up two guys from the crowd. One of them walks alongside him and looks like he’s directing him to someplace.

    Around 2:00 minute mark, the remaining part of the gaggle of people the photographers met up with start to walk and catch up to the photographers. It looked like the gaggle is indeed armed. I see 1 AK-47 and perhaps one RPG.

    At 2:04, watch the guy in the middle of the straggling gaggle of four. At 2:10 to 2:12, look at that long thin shape he is holding. That indeed does look like an RPG. I don’t believe that is what they claim to be an RPG in a few moments, but what he is holding (as shown at 2:10-2:12) appears to be a typical RPG-7. Look how that guy continues to hold it at about 2:26, it isn’t a rifle or heavy machine gun. It is a RPG.

    At about 2:32, the DTV camera refocuses on the corner and identifies the camera man as an RPG shooter. While I question the angle that he is trying to take pictures from around the corner, it definitely doesn’t look like an RPG based on how he is holding it and his body being behind the camera lens as opposed to the side, which you’d assume with a RPG.

    When he finally come up around the corner at 2:42-2:44ish, it looks too short and flat at the end to be an RPG. It looks like a camera. Notice the loose camera strap at about 2:45 dangling on the camera and watch it once the pilot circles around right before he shoots.

    The leftmost guy in the gaggle (closest to the camera) that becomes visible at 3:12, he is the guy with the RPG identified earlier. Not the same guy that popped up around the corner though. At 3:14, notice the guy walking away from the corner slightly (3rd from the right), he is adjusting his camera strap. That was the guy who popped up around the corner as the Apache lost sight of the corner.

    Obviously us sitting back years after the fact, pouring over what they saw and made snap second decisions on are two different things. It was bad judgement on the part of the cameramen to be with an armed group of Iraqis.

    I’m sure the armed group was like, “Hey, hey.. want to see the Americans?” and they were trying to show them where they were. Obviously, fearing getting shot, they were reluctant to pop up around the corner. All of that working against the camera men caused them to lose their lives that day.

    I don’t believe that the soldiers involved went out with malice in their hearts to do this, but they made mistakes that day too.

    I hate the wars and I’m very disappointed that our government would try to cover this up, but what I see in the video footage is a tragic loss of life. Mistakes were made, but zipping around like helicopters do, I’m not surprised these incidents happen.

    It is the nature of our blitzkrieg type warfare. We want to be in and out in 5 seconds and we get no feeling for the event itself or what was going on. I feel horrible for the people that were trying to help the dying photographer. That was tragic, but once again in their mind, they thought they were aiding “the enemy”, not fulfilling their obligation to their fellow man.

    After all, if you were driving by, you’d have no idea that the military did that. It could have very well just been a bombing. The military should have made themselves known to the van before engaging them.

    Very regrettable incident. We shouldn’t be there, but I don’t fault the soldiers anymore than I’d fault a cop pulling over a car filled with dying people desparate to get to the hospital.

    We as Americans have too short of an attention span to appreciate the context of any given event. This is why things like this happen.

    • thatvisionthing says:

      Things like this happen because we (the royal Unitary Executive we) go to war in the first place and make enemies out of people who could have been friends. What did you expect?

    • tjbs says:

      We’ve invaded a country and are killing random people and your lies about death sicken me. The kids might grow up to oppose our illegal immoral invasion so we must SLAUGHTER THEM TOO?

      SICK shit

    • phred says:

      but at this point the photographers make things bad for themselves.

      That’s almost as good as “well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle”.

      Yep. The ones at fault are the ones who get shot. A variation on the ol’ guns don’t kill people, people kill people… Except in your world people don’t kill people, people meander in front of people firing guns. Clearly, the meanderers are responsible. Just like Whittington.

    • banderson2 says:

      You are right that we as Americans have a short attention span considering that we and Israel are the only two countries that has invaded another country in the last two decades. I think it was the Bush administration who swore that Iraq had WMD’s and that why we invaded them and then it was Iraq helped the terrorist and Al Quaeda and then it was Saddam was a bad man and he needed to be taken out. I guess next it will be Iran turn to taste the muzzle of the mighty Apache since Americans have such short memories.

    • JTMinIA says:

      >> “Very regrettable incident. We shouldn’t be there, but I don’t fault the soldiers anymore than I’d fault a cop pulling over a car filled with dying people desparate to get to the hospital.”

      Your ability to rationalize that all is well is admirable. Sleep well.

  27. Kelly Canfield says:

    This video is truly horrifying.

    The casual, business-as-usual, ho hum, machine-like raining of death is just soul wrenching.

    I gotta go for a walk.

    • Jim White says:

      Yeah, I just now worked up the courage to watch, too. I agree that the casual attitude is overwhelming. I can’t believe how much these guys laughed. It really is like they were just chilling and playing video games.

  28. lysias says:

    Remember when Eason Jordan was forced to resign from CNN because he had suggested the U.S. military was killing journalists in Iraq?

    That was in 2005, well before this incident.

  29. skdadl says:

    Gareth Porter on the disconnect between McChrystal’s soothing public statements and the night raids he authorizes in Afghanistan. (Apologies if someone has linked to that report earlier.)

  30. klynn says:

    The father of a dear friend when I was a child was a Pearl Harbor survivor. He shared about many of his battle experiences including that fateful day. On the battlefield he commented that he constantly fought feeling sick because, even though he was facing the enemy, he knew he was taking life. I found his regard for the life of the enemy not a weakness on his part but a reflection of the hard reality of the violence of war.

    He said it (war and taking lives in battle) was never easy. He showed dignity and a humility at the same time whenever he recalled a battle. He use to say, “War is not a game.”

    These guys? These guys could care less.

    No dignity. No honor. They dishonor those who have served before them.

  31. cregan says:

    At the risk of getting a lot of flack, here is my two cents.

    1. It is difficult to understand the framework the soldiers viewed the actions of those on the ground. There is nothing in the video to give it any basis, yet they seem quite convinced. We do not see what happened before the video started; what the people were doing before what we see. Did they do something more provacative?

    Why did the helicopter come to be over these people in the first place?

    If no, then there clearly was no reason for what happened. However, the communication from the soldiers does not indicate anything like, “We know they aren’t doing anything, but we’d like to kill them anyway.” That is an attitude I don’t detect at all. They clearly seem to feel there is some reason for what they are doing–meaning, they clearly think these guys are some kind of danger or capable of some type of danger or trouble.

    I hear one person on the tape, before there is any firing saying that someone on the ground is shooting.

    Maybe he didn’t hear it. Maybe he made it up. Maybe it was a mistake.

    2. there is no context as to what was happening when this occurred. Were US forces in the middle of some larger action involving insurgents of which this was a piece. And, that larger action, including something occurring before the video starts colored the way the soldiers looked at it.

    To me, those are a few loose ends to consider.

    In spite of all of that, it certainly appears that some cover up of the accurate portrayal of the situation that occurred.

    The van part of the incident appears to be too hair trigger. Again, I don’t know if what they saw was the usual insurgent mode of operation seen many times or what. If it were me, I would have to see more concrete evidence that the van people were something more than friends trying to take friends to the hospital.

    Soldiers have said it many times, over many years, “War is hell.” It isn’t the movies.

    Life isn’t the movies. There is no guarantee the good guys will win. Usually, they do because the bad hats destroy themselves out of their own self-destructive impulses. But, there is no guarantee of any happy ending in life. It is wide open affair with no pre-ordained conclusions.

    This certainly needs to be investigated more carefully and fully and followed to whatever truth is there.

      • cregan says:

        Here are some bad guys:

        Hitler
        Pol Pot
        Stalin
        Jeffrey Dalmer

        Here are some good guys:

        Winston Churchill
        Florance Nightingale
        Martin Luther King
        Thomas Jefferson

        I suppose I might include Saddam Hussein in there since he was the motivating force for around 2 million people dying. But, some might argue he should have been allowed to continue his winning ways.

        • PJEvans says:

          Not answering the question: -10 points.
          Being an @#$%^&* about not answering it: you can’t count that low.

          • bmaz says:

            Okay, you know, you don’t have to agree with what Cregan said or thinks; and it is very understandable why you don’t (I don’t completely either, but am maybe somewhere in the wanting more evidence middle). But he was polite and in other comments subsequent to that has tried to explain his view. Cregan thinks different that most here on a lot of topics, but he does so, and has done so over a period of time now, in fairly good faith and with what seems to be honesty. Disagree with him all you want, but let’s not get too vitriolic please.

            • PJEvans says:

              I get tired of its constant sniping and complaining and general bashing of anything to the left of the last president or three.
              Also its assumption that the rest of us are not entitled to have opinions (especially if they disagree with its own), and that we’re ignorant of everything outside of this blog.

              I spend my days making go/no go decisions on other people’s work; I’m their go-to person for obscure information (some of it going back decades before I worked at that company), and I dislike being treated as if I were incapable of remembering posters and their attitudes.

              • bmaz says:

                Honestly, I do not see where that has occurred. Who has asked you to not have opinions or express them? Certainly not me. All I ask is that there be some civility; and I would, and have in the past, do so were somebody attacking you. Maybe I am full of it; heck I was taking after a troll within the last couple of days (a smooth one, but still a troll), but what Cregan said here seemed to actually be trying to intelligently engage on the facts and merits. All for what it is worth. With that, I am going to try to retreat from this discussion and let you all proceed as you wish; just be civil please.

          • cregan says:

            You asked a question that had nothing to do with my post.

            At the end, I was talking in general about life not being a movie and having no guarantee of a happy ending. About the overall scene of good guys and bad guys.

            YOU were talking about something else–Iraq. Only the beginning of the post was about Iraq specifically.

            So, I definitely answered the question in relation to the original statement I made.

            I didn’t say invaders or others were good, bad or indifferent.

            For example, there is no guarantee that the Iran situation is going to have a happy ending. They could get the bomb and maybe 5 years from now, as those who let them have it are trying to contain them, send 4 or 5 over to Israel and end of story in 15 minutes. There is no guarantee that will not happen. It isn’t the movies. There is no pre-ordered happy ending.

            In some sense, that was the big, basic point Lincoln was making in the Gettsyburg Address.

            “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.

            “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

            There is no guarantee freedom or rights will exist as some matter of course. The world saw a Roman Empire exist for hundreds and hundreds of years and likely thought civilization would just, as a matter of course, go on. It didn’t. That all disappeared and a dark ages came on that lasted for hundreds of years more.

            There is no pre-written script which says that could not happen again. If you believe in God, then you know God gave Man free will. And with freewill, he or she will do whatever their brain guides them to do–there is no set ending. If you don’t believe in God, then you know there is no one to step in and make it all nice if somehow things go the wrong way.

            Lincoln said it in a lot less words than me. That’s why he is great.

        • burnt says:

          You are, of course, familiar with who allowed Saddam:

          to continue his winning ways

          You might want to look at what was going on in Congress back in ’80s. It might prove instructive. I’ll give you a hint. Cheney helped kill something that would have restricted Saddam’s poor behavior.

          • cregan says:

            You know very well what I meant.

            So, if you think Cheney was so bad allowing Saddam to continue, then you must have supported Bush when he decided to end Saddam’s winning ways.

            Or, did you think he ought to continue?

            Or, are you saying that you and Cheney were in agreement and Cheney did the right thing back in the 80’s?

            Or, are you saying Cheney did the wrong thing and we should have taken Saddam out in the 80’s?

            Or, are you saying you voted for taking him out before you voted against it?

            • burnt says:

              Umm, actually, while I am not a practicing Catholic, I still subscribe to Thomistic philosophy’s just war theory. And that has all the answers to your bullet point questions. All of them.

              I guess I’ll have to go through all your bullet points for the likes of you because I’m assuming you are unfamiliar with Catholic/Christian teaching with respect to war but trust me this has how western folks have thought about war since the 13th century.

              So, if you think Cheney was so bad allowing Saddam to continue, then you must have supported Bush when he decided to end Saddam’s winning ways.

              Umm, no. What sort of threat did Mr. Hussein’s regime pose to the US at the time we invaded? The answer is NONE. St. Thomas says you can’t wage war.

              Or, did you think he ought to continue?

              Well, no, I didn’t think Saddam should have continued but St. Thomas has nothing to say about that because what you are talking about is preventive war and Saint Thomas condemns it.

              Or, are you saying that you and Cheney were in agreement and Cheney did the right thing back in the 80’s?

              Well, I guess that’s just an indication of how dishonest you are since it is clear from context of my post that I don’t think Cheney did the right thing in the ’80s–and judging from your post I’m willing to bet you don’t know what Cheney did back then.

              Or, are you saying Cheney did the wrong thing and we should have taken Saddam out in the 80’s?

              No, what I am saying is we should not have provided support to Mr. Hussein in the 1980s. You know, like turned a blind eye to chemical attacks on his own countrymen–which is what we did among other things.

              Or, are you saying you voted for taking him out before you voted against it?

              Well, I hope I voted for not providing Saddam support in 1988 before I voted for not providing Saddam support in 1992 but evidently that is a matter for you to to determine not moi.

              I give you my best…

    • bmaz says:

      I don’t think those are bad questions/points and, quite frankly, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the soldiers. That said, the evidence is pretty gruesome and what we do see speaks volumes of bad. I think if there were any plausible mitigating factors, things would not have come out this way; it is pretty bleak and very disturbing.

      • klynn says:

        Perhaps if the communications between the air and ground were a bit more operational and serious instead of laughter and “hit the f’er’s” cowboy attitude, giving the benefit of the doubt would not be difficult and would be necessary.

        Laughter?

        War is hell. It is not a game to be laughed at while in the midst of it.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, I agree. But, you know, the truth is – and I don’t know exactly how to put this and the line is not clear but there somewhere – teams of soldiers in combat are cowboys. It is similar to the team/locker room mentality in serious men’s team sports. I will grant them that, it is the facts of the conduct that should speak primarily, the voices are garnishment.

      • skdadl says:

        Taking out a rescue van when the rescuers clearly are not armed? (They are both clearly using both hands to carry the wounded man.) That is ok under what kind of law?

        Shooting down the clearly unarmed man who runs away from the first attack — that is ok under what kind of law? (That taught me something, though: when trying to escape a Merkin helicopter, do not run in a straight line.)

        I gotta tell you, bmaz: to most of the world, the people who died there look like people who actually live in the neighbourhood, and the guys who did the shooting … don’t. I guess I see why you want to give your guys the benefit of the doubt, but that would be the problem, eh?

      • cregan says:

        We are in total agreement.

        They seemed to shoot first ask questions later; I don’t want to do that.

    • emptywheel says:

      I think you are right to ask the questions, so thanks for doing that.

      Reporting elsewhere has indicated that the van people were just happening by and heard the calls for help. Since that’s why the kids were hit, that’s what makes it all the more horrible.

      I can’t imagine what it must be like to be one of these guys, and I know people develop coping strategies, so I’m hesitant to attack these guys for their mannerisms. And it’s important to remember that too.

      BUt I think the indications are these guys did not follow the rules for engagement. Which is not necessarily enough but which would have given them some leeway for their actions.

  32. Kelly Canfield says:

    Glenn Greenwald tweets:

    The key thing to remember when watching the WikiLeaks/Iraq video and reading about the Afghan massacre: THEY HATE US FOR OUR FREEDOMS!!!

  33. whattheincorporated says:

    Where would America be if our heroes didn’t go on covert missions to overturn governments that won’t bow their heads, or massacre children in our great and honorable name?

    We have to kill their children in huge bloodbaths or they might successfully rebuild their own country and pay us back for massacring and torturing their family.

    It’s preemptive self defense.

  34. whattheincorporated says:

    Ps, can we start using predator drones on the anti government militias? Or is the army like disneyland, you have to be this ! !brown to become a target?

  35. orionATL says:

    creagan @121

    you’re very facile at making excuses for the killing 15-18 human beings;

    you could have worked as the battalion p.r. guy.

    though facile, you’re not very convincing.

    apache pilots greatly fear rpg’s, with good reason.

    these pilots claimed a camera lens was an rpg and then

    LOITERED about in the air near said rpg

    until permission to kill was granted.

    nothing the pilots say suggests they had any sense of threat to themselves.

    they exaggerated to get permission to kill.

    and then they killed with evident satisfacion.

    • cregan says:

      First, there is nothing in the transmission which says the airman thought a camera was an RPG. The news organization posting the video put in the lettering showing the camera and labeling it such. That does not mean THAT is what the airman was referring to. The RPG statement comes later in the video, it is not clear which person he is referring to.

      The tone of voice is clearly one in which the person speaking is convinced the someone has a weapon and is shooting. (do you know why police can tell when a relative who has shot someone and then acts like they are broken up by are faking it? Simple, it takes actors YEARS of experience to create a realistic emotional scene that rings true. The police know because of bad acting)

      All I am saying is that the Empty Wheel blog seems to stand for giving anyone their day in court and that someone should not be prejudged without all facts in–whether Jose Padilla or these guys.

      On the surface, it doesn’t look provoked. It doesn’t look good. But, there are loose ends that do not tie up in some neat package.

      As I told bmaz, the soldiers appear to be shooting first and asking questions later. Whether that was intentional or mistaken or something else, I don’t know. But, I do know I don’t want to make the same mistake. I’d rather ask questions first.

      • behindthefall says:

        You know, if you’re flying around at such a distance that there remains any doubt whatsoever that the person in your sights is one of those people you got out of bed to kill today, then land the bloody chopper and walk up to the guy. Remove all doubt. Nothing says you’re entitled to kill someone when you don’t know who they are or what their intent is, not even in a war. (Let’s not bring up the aerial bombardment of London, cities in Germany, and so on. That was unethical then and it remains so, despite the real bravery it took to carry it out. Where is the bravery in this act?)

  36. ackack says:

    I guess for me, this is just underscores what I hate so much about the fact that we are there at all.

    This is what war is. It is death and destruction, frequently of those not in any way involved in actual combat. Once war stops being fought on skirmish lines, it necessarily results in the death of innocents.

    War is definitively NOT a sanitary process. We don’t train our troops to be sanitary diplomats, we train them to be warriors. Killing is what warriors do. Military culture is not a celebration of life. It celebrates and honors death and killing. To think otherwise is self-delusion.

    Part of every tax dollar our government collects from all of us pays for those 30mm rounds and the fuel to keep those choppers aloft. And the knives that Special Ops uses to cut their bullets from dead pregnant corpses.

    When is enough enough? I was done with these ‘wars’ eight years ago.

    • whattheincorporated says:

      When is enough enough?

      Probably when the price that that the government is willing to pay it’s trained professional warcriminals and arms dealers isn’t enough to cover their operating expenses.

      Then they’ll accept missions from a higher bidder, probably china, to help “pacify american insurgents who won’t accept our magnificent leaders majestic rule.”

      If these monsters weren’t working for us, they’d be working for 3rd world dictators to terrorize ethnic minorities or surpress people who want to rebel against said leaders tyranny.

  37. wirerat1 says:

    Whoa, whoa… I disagree wholeheartedly with the policies that led this event to occur. Our continued existence in that country only perpetuates the problem.

    I agree that the “vast majority” of those on that tape were innocent, but they made decisions that brought upon the attack by the Apache. Having an AK-47 and an RPG in Iraq openly is not allowed. Congregating around people with such weapons only opens them up to be attacked.

    I agree that the cameramen were incorrectly identified as combatants, their cameras were seen as weapons. If they were not around people with actual weapons, then odds are they would not have been killed.

    The people that were in the van, they were truly the innocent victims in this attack. They had no idea the Apache was loitering overhead or that they were about to be attacked. That was a _very bad_ decision on the part of the flight crew.

    Unfortunately though, they are only carrying out the policies that have been put in place by our government. I don’t think that this flight crew or any of the people in this fight had it in their heart anymore than necessary to kill those people.

    The soldiers on the ground post-fight identified an RPG round, reinforcing the fact that some dumbass was running around with a RPG.

    Yes some very heartless things were said, but as a soldier going out there day in and day out, if they allowed their emotions to come to the surface, they’d be combat ineffective. Yes, they have to bury them and have stupid bravado, but it allows them to go out there each day and carry out their orders.

    I wish they didn’t have to be there, I wish we’d withdraw our troops. I am wholeheartedly behind the notion that we only make things worse for ourselves and grow the insurgent threat by stupid decisions (like this) that get made.

    I am very much to the left and I think our involvement in any foreign country at this time is very much not in our national interest, but I do not think these flight crews or soldiers did anything that requires further action.

    If anything, this only reinforces the notion that we need to get out of there, but I do not believe those crews did anything wrong except misidentify the cameramen and shoot on that van. They should have identified themselves and made clear that they were in the area and they should not be moving the wounded.

    It is sad comparing how people in this country would respond to such an event as opposed to in Iraq. Some halfdead guy crawling on the sidewalk would be ignored or walked over, anything but helped. It is a testament to the Iraqis that they care enough about their own people to help them no matter what. I wish we shared a similar mindset.

    I overtaken by emotion when I watched this video the first time, but going back over it multiple times, trying to see what the crews witnessed, I have a hard time faulting them with the exception of not identifying themselves to the people in the van.

    The photographers made some bad decisions which ended in their death. That is regrettable. I’m more than willing to call the military out on their decisions, but in this case there were plenty of bad decisions made by everyone. The true victims were the people in the van.

  38. c0mputar says:

    I sat through the 40minute version video, and before I elaborate I want to point out a few things. A lot of the dialogue about what is seen and said originate from both helicopters. There was one moment where it’s reported that the van is picking up weapons and bodies, while the video feed cannot even see the van yet.

    Before the video, those 2 apache were called out to assist ground troops that were under fire.

    That said, in the long version, after the 2:00 minute mark, you can clearly see at least 2 AKs, and 1 RPG or tripod, and what appears to be 1 or 2 cameras slung over the shoulder, all on separate individuals, if you look close enough. The way they are wagging those rifles allows you to define the edges of a rifle.

    So with the premise that there were aggressive forces in that immediate area as directed by the ground troops to their air support, the apache then sees armed troops. They later observe someone appearing to be aiming an RPG at them, and that justified the initial engagement. The apache were already prepared to engage the targets before they arrived, because troops were under fire, but having an RPG pointed at you will justify an immediate pre-emptive attack.

    As for the van that was shot at, this van was spotted at the very beginning of the video. It’s unknown if this van was known to those on the coms. However, if you are hanging around the hot zone, and then later seen trying to get wounded men out of there in an unmarked van, with a report from the other helicopter saying that they picked up weapons and bodies, then you’re done for. There is no protocol protecting anyone who is in the area of engagement unless they have a marked car and were not picking up weapons.

    The last scene in the video that leads to the hellfire missiles hitting the building is too short to be any good for analysis. They reported 6 armed people in the building, and we can only observe 2 people entering the building, with 1 of them carrying what the soldiers felt like was a weapon. You really can’t make a judgement on this with such little facts. It’s unfortunate that there was clearly a pedestrian that was killed by the first hellfire, but this is what war in the city is like. They knew armed men were in the building, and so why wait for them to start shooting out of the window at American soldiers before firing the missiles? No civilian or unmarked officer is allowed a weapon in Iraq, or any war zone for that matter.

  39. c0mputar says:

    I’d like to point out that the van was in the area this entire time. In the 40minute clip, you can see the van right at the beginning. They knew the coptors were out there the whole time.

    • prostratedragon says:

      Are you sure it’s the van with the broad white stripe down the top (7min49sec, long video; around the same time on short)? That’s the one that tried to pick up the injured man. There’s also some dust from somewhere, maybe the engagement, but underneath that dust definitely looks like an intentional mark.

      One van that I saw earlier, about 1min more or less in, was moving right to left through the field about halfway between top and bottom. It had no roof markings. Not necessarily the same vehicle, I think.

      As for the “rpgs,” nothing yet that persuades my lyin’ eyes either that they don’t at the very least need a better look at the one guy who might have been trying to set a lens, or that the other man’s handle does not look like a weapon handle, even for an amateur. And that’s with this lousy 480 resolution. Someone above mentioned binoculars: wouldn’t these units have been close enough to use them or some ocular device to get a live-quality look?

      Note for those who haven’t watched yet: not sure the long version supplies enough that’s not in the short for a viewer having trouble to bother with.

      • PJEvans says:

        I expect at least one person on at least one of the choppers to have binoculars or a sighting scope, because otherwise they’re not going to be able to aim. Not using the equipment you have – it’s not like binoculars are extremely expensive, extremely high-tech stuff! – is not what they should have been taught.

  40. orionATL says:

    bmaz @129

    bmaz says :

    “…quite frankly, the benefit of the doubt should be given to the soldiers. ..”

    that’s internal political baloney, bmaz.

    one gives the benefit of the doubt to a soldier or a policeman when there are circumstances that clearly raise doubt. there are none here.

    as for creagan’s point about we don’t know what happened before. that’s baloney too.

    if two helicopters played for time hovering over a dozen or so persons.

    all the while asking for permission to “engage”,

    it is a reasonable inference they did not feel threatened.

    if they did not call in support, it is a reasonable inference they did not feel threatened.

    would you grant “the benefit of the doubt” to those who worked over az, doused gul rahman, or “tried to revive” the three men who died at camp no?

    you did know, did you not that the same commander involved in this affair was involved in the pat tillman accident?

    • PJEvans says:

      Add that people who were there while the helicopters were overhead must not have felt threatened, or they’d have left the area or not have formed a group.

      We have serious blood on our hands, as a country, and these soldiers and whoever gave them their orders and whoever trained them to be that indifferent to human life – they have blood on their hands until they die, and after.

  41. orionATL says:

    bmaz @148

    ok. i don’t quite understand the distinction, but i don’t have the energy for an arm wrestling match.

    maybe you can enlighten me and others about the distinction, as you have
    enlightened us many times before.

    as for creagan, i admire his stating his own viewpoint al the more because it probably runs counter to many viewpoints held here.

    that takes courage.

    i just don’t agree with some of his points. not least because they don’t match the facts that i know.

    but also because they echo some of the vague, pandering excuse-making patriotism i have listened to from our presidency for going on a decade.

    • bmaz says:

      This is clearly bad and wrong; tragic results occurred. It should not have been so. But it is awful easy for us to armchair quarterback it and shout from the rooftops from where we sit. There are things that could be critical to the analysis that the video does not and could not show; we don’t know the truth as to what those other circumstances necessarily were. We train and equip soldiers to wreak hell on the enemy and put them in situations where the enemy is not clear and defined. Personally, as bad as this is, and it is that bad, I would need more to go where many have and consider it of the character of My Lai or something. So far, at least, I would fault the people that put, and keep, us in this no win insane situation. This strikes me as really the product of that and the disconnected from ground reality nature of modern weaponry and warfare. All for the little it is worth.

  42. orionATL says:

    pjevans @147

    indeed.

    one thought that crossed my mind was “how did these choppers end up where there were two reuters journalists?”

    don’t journalists have to file some sort of “where we’ll be today” form with the american military so our guys can come looking for them (if they get in trouble, i mean).

  43. orionATL says:

    creagan @ 158

    “The tone of voice is clearly one in which the person speaking is convinced the someone has a weapon and is shooting.”

    a – no it does not

    b – there were no other such statements, e.g., “damn, there’s a nest of rpg’s there”.

    c- do TWO well-trained helicopter pilots HANG around long enough to get blown up , all the while begging for permission to “engage” (aka kill)while they believe they are being shot at?

    d- since there was no attack on the choppers, why did their pilots (BOTH of them) not ask for the near-by ground troops to come and take a look?

    the answer is evident:

    these guys wanted to bag themselves some iraquis that day. preferably ones that would not put them at any serious risk – like shooting doves in a baited field.

    my view of this is that it was vengeful cowardice – but that’s not illegal is it?

    what do i mean by “vengeful”?

    i mean one needs to look at these soldiers recent past to see if they had lost a person important to them in Iraq to “insurgents”.

    my guess

    is yes.

  44. Username says:

    Good post by Glenn Greenwald here.

    I like in the video how 3 of the guests, including Glenn, explained why it was wrong, and the guy from the Council on Foreign Relations was doing everything he could to dismiss it. Unfortunately, Dylan gave this guy the most talking time and the last word, and Dylan made a poor opponent in arguing against him. He sounded completely vague, like he wanted to be or wanted to sound critical, but couldn’t phrase it clearly.

  45. orionATL says:

    emptywheel @162

    “I can’t imagine what it must be like to be one of these guys, and I know people develop coping strategies, so I’m hesitant to attack these guys for their mannerisms. And it’s important to remember that too.’

    hmm, how sensitive.

    mannerisms are not what anyone would attack.

    do you mean you can’t imagine how those guys felt that day with all that power in their hands?

    or do you mean

    how those guys feel today looking back on what they did and knowing why they did it. (i’m leaving aside any assumption they know who they killed)

    they felt great that day, maybe went for a beer and some laughs afterward.

    it’s only later,

    back in the states,

    by themselves,

    with their “only” their families and not their buddies,

    that the killing memories create problems.

    yeah, some “develop coping strategies”, like never talking about what happened to any body.

    and some develop “coping strategies” like not coping within their society ever again.

    • emptywheel says:

      No. I mean I have never been in a position where I have been asked to do unimaginable things day in and day out. And I can’t imagine what my psyche would be like after doing so. I can’t imagine what coping strategies I’d come up with to separate myself from the horrible things I was asked to do.

      That doesn’t excuse the actions, it doesn’t excuse breaking rules of engagement.

      But we need to be well aware that our government is making a concerted effort to turn hundreds of thousands into the kind of trained killer that can do something like this and still function. And it is our repsonsibility to 1) hold people accountable when they break rules of engagement, but also 2) do everything we can to remove people from this situation–particularly people who are on their third or fourth deployment without any of the down time they need to have.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Yep. Starts in boot camp, of course, with things like cadence calls – rhymes used to relieve the boredom and pain of distance running, and to keep a unit in step – that end with refrains like, “Napalm sticks to kids”. For the uninitiated, napalm is jellied gasoline; it does stick to what it comes in contact with and burns fiercely. Images of the gruesome deaths it caused in Vietnam made more than one photographer’s career.

          That illustrates the effort it takes to desensitize our men and women in order for them repetitively to kill and maim those they don’t know, but who are identified by someone up the chain of command as “the enemy”. It would be a good topic for Jeff Kaye to chime in on.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            For a contrary view, I offer John McCutcheon’s, “Christmas in the Trenches“, about a real “fraternization” between English and German troops at the time of the first Christmas during the Great War. Woodrow Wilson’s war to end war. It starts this way,

            My name is Francis Tolliver, I come from Liverpool.
            Two years ago the war was waiting for me after school.
            To Belgium and to Flanders, to Germany to here
            I fought for King and country I love dear.
            ‘Twas Christmas in the trenches, where the frost so bitter hung,
            The frozen fields of France were still, no Christmas song was sung
            Our families back in England were toasting us that day
            Their brave and glorious lads so far away.

            After telling the tale of the temporary silence of the artillery, the surprising singing of Christmas carols by one side, then another, and the playing of a makeshift soccer match in No Man’s Land, the unoccupied and ordinarily lethal yardage between opposing trenches, it ends,

            My name is Francis Tolliver, in Liverpool I dwell
            Each Christmas come since World War I, I’ve learned its lessons well
            That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
            And on each end of the rifle we’re the same
            .

            The brass on both sides made sure such an episode was not repeated the next three Christmases at war, or any since.

  46. alank says:

    Here way late, well into the EPU zone, but just to note, this kind of footage has been around for years. There’s been no fallout from it all, to date. The Americans are a nasty bunch who think they’re something special.

  47. orionATL says:

    bmaz @166
    so why are your armchair quarterbacking the cia’s torture?

    you weren’t in the room.

    you don’t know what az threatened (or in which voice) do you?

    you don’t know if he had a homemade stilletto, do you?

    either of you?

    you don’t even know for sure what he did before being captured.

    given this sites fervent anti-torture stance,

    it seems to me that the two of you are showing a remarkably out of character lack of skepticism.

    but i do understand why this is happening.

    i admire that this site showed this video.

    just a word of advice,

    think of president obama next time you are making decisions in a dicey situation like this.

    • bmaz says:

      Because I actually have experience and understand, somewhat at least, how lawyers are supposed to think and act and because my thoughts and opinions are couched in terms of the record at hand; I do not have that experience as a soldier under the circumstances these are placed in and, quite frankly, am thankful for that. It is a thin line, which I think I alluded to above, on a lot of this. I am not saying you should think as I do here; I am merely relating my thoughts same as you. I am also asking that a modicum of civility be showed to others that are engaging in seeming good faith, even if from a different perspective than most (including me to some extent). I am as offended as you or anybody else by what occurred here; but just, perhaps, a little more reticent to draw hard conclusions on what it means in the bigger picture.

  48. Rayne says:

    Some general comments about the video:

    — Remember we are not seeing ALL of the video footage; there are portions which may fill in the blanks about which commenters are debating;

    — At least one source in the military leaked this video. If the actions in the video were not problematic, it’s questionable that it would have been leaked;

    — There have been no firm denials issued about this video by the military, only mild attempts to explain away what little the public is seeing.

    — Persons who appear to be holding weapons while talking with other persons in the street do not appear to acknowledge the presence of the helicopter, even though the Apache must be within ready sight and audible. They are not reacting to it, continue their business; no one attempts to go to shelter until after the Apache fires.

  49. burnt says:

    Hmm, I’m late to the game and there are so many people to respond to. Too many. I guess I’d like to respond to wirerat1 primarily but whatever.

    With respect to either version of the video what do folks have to say about lighting up the good samaritan minivan? Twarnt no weapons there. Twarnt nothin’ but a couple of guys trying to rescue a gravely wounded man. Nobody made a move for weapons. They just lifted up a gravely wounded father (yeah, I’m being a loser and bringing up a fact the helicopter pilots could not have known) and tried to get him to safety.

    I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. However, like someone who pointed this out earlier (and sorry I’m not going to credit you because I’m too lazy to scroll up that far) the rules of war prohibit you from shooting people coming to the aid of the Reuters’ employee. There was no threat to US forces and boy is that ever clear from the audio. That guy just wanted to kill him some Iraqis. What other conclusion can one draw from either the edited or the full video?

  50. bobschacht says:

    I’m asking this question before reading the 187 previous comments, so please forgive if this question has been asked:

    These “Americans” who committed these murders, are they regular military, or contractors? And if contractors, do they have any connection with Blackwater or any of its reincarnations?

    Bob in AZ

    • Rayne says:

      Military. We don’t know who the commander was, what the specific rules of engagement were, or to what task force this combat aviation brigade had been assigned. These are questions to which we should be demanding answers.

      Unfortunately, many former military move to jobs in private security/military companies after they leave the service. One wonders where this team might work next.

  51. crossword says:

    Via commenter Froggy at Blackfive:

    Here’s what I saw. Two JAM intel sources/journalists coordinating the imminent ambush of a US Army BFV column. Then the Apache pair flying ISR in advance of that column caught them setting up, and fucking punched their clocks for them. That’s it.

    Saaed and Nassir thought they were going to make the cover of Newsweek shooting the backblast of an RPG on the way to hitting one of those Bradleys. They were lining up the shots and directing the action. Probably planned to get some video edited afterwards for the latest jihadi recruiting spot. Sorry boys, you got smoked instead.

    How many blown up HMMVs do you think that Apache Det flew over during that deployment to that point? More than a few, I’d bet. They didn’t want to see another one, and guess what(?), they made sure that they didn’t on that day. Its called “One Team, One Fight”.

    Classy.

  52. Jeff Kaye says:

    The amount of denial after seeing atrocities is expectable. Imagine how much more we haven’t seen due to the difficulties of getting news out of Iraq and Afghanistan (so many killed reporters), and the U.S. mainstream press’s proclivity to only report what DoD tells them to, or perform only as embedded reporters, blunting objectivity.

    Denial, psychic numbing, repression, fearful avoidance, projection (including of negative aspects of ourselves onto an “enemy”, wishful thinking… these are psychological mechanisms meant to keep us from states of overwhelm. But writ large upon a society that hold massive technological means of destruction, they are not defense mechanisms only: they are the harbingers of a terrible reckoning with our own actions and our own history.

    • crossword says:

      Jeff:

      TF-34 was the rotary-wing aviation element ISO JSOC during that timeframe. Start digging.

      What the uninitiated may not know — but what I know Jeff and others here do know — is that OCF, or Other Coalition Forces, is a euphemism for a JSOC task force.

      In the PDF linked above, TF-34 openly brags about being in support of OCF-I — JSOC’s forward deployed task force, based in Mosul — which was ran by McRaven by that time, since McChrystal had moved on to be Director of the Joint Staff under Admiral Mullen.

  53. orionATL says:

    crossword @196

    well, you certainly know where to look for viewpoints i would not even have known existed.

    thanks for opening my eyes.

    • crossword says:

      Froggy was — is — a highly respected SEAL corpsman who ended up becoming the Chief Medical Officer of DEVGRU, popularly known as SEAL TEAM SIX.

      As a reservist, he worked with a number of PSCs, most notably Triple Canopy.

      He was also the guy that in 2005 got into a heated smackfest in the comments of his blog with SPC Lagouranis, the Army military intelligence interrogator who helped expose the horrors of Abu Ghraib.

      He has a, shall we say, different view than most FDL regulars.

  54. cheneywatchorg says:

    a very unthinking and rather self centered comment followed: “We as Americans have too short of an attention span to appreciate the context of any given event. This is why things like this happen.”

    Speak for your self. I have an attention span thousands of years in diameter and don’t need more context to see that no hostilities were taking place. There was no need to fire on them, and there goddamn sure was a war crime committed when they fired on the wounded.

    This is cowardly. This is where the lack of respect for the Mighty American Military Machine comes from. These men were targeted for kicks or shitty, untrained, fears. I don’t need some elaborate make believe context so I can feel good about this cowardly act.

    I can listen to the comments myself. This is the result of a racist and unprincipled aggression.

    And last, because they are ultimately colleagues in my craft, these were human beings who did journalism. If their names had been Bob Smith, Mark Johnson, Steve Goodguy, then we’d be asking for an investigation. Unfortunately for American Accountability, their names are Saeed and Namir.

    So if you want to profess your shortsighted myopic sense of history, go ahead. But you don’t stand in the same place as Methuselah here. I keep records, I keep context, and I’m not limited by your ignorance.

    • bmaz says:

      Who the hell are you calling ignorant??

      People, come on, it is a tragic event that looks and is very bad. But the level if attacking each other, even among regulars here, is simply not right. And cheneywatchorg, you do not get to wander in and call anybody here ignorant; that ain’t gonna cut the mustard.

  55. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Reminds me of the perhaps apocryphal comment, attributed to Winston Churchill at the time the US declared war on Nazi Germany, that went something like, “The Americans, they always do the right thing, after they’ve tried everything else.”

  56. wirerat1 says:

    You guys should be more upset with the policies than the events of the day. The flight crews repeatedly asked for permission to open fire and only did so once authorization was given. In regards to the comment someone made about shooting the wounded, I’d grant you that and they didn’t fire until receiving new authorization with the added information that the people in the van were attempting to extract them.

    The Rules of Engagement look like they were being followed. The information relayed back to command from the aircrew got them the authorization they needed to take the shots they did. Obviously as I have stated before (repeatedly) mistakes in the identification of the photographers were made. Obviously though, being surrounded by a bunch of other people, some armed with AK-47s and RPGs did nothing to help their case that they were just out for a stroll.

    Why would the photographer pop up like he did around the corner, shielding himself from the Apache crew and the Americans down the street that he was taking pictures of? He was probably concerned about being shot, but popping around the corner like he did with his camera body language wise, looks a whole lot like how a guy with an RPG would act.

    Mistakes were made on all sides, not just the Americans. The photographers made the situation much worse for themselves being with gunmen.

    Our policies allowed for this shooting. Blame the policy, not the aircrew. I think that is why things have changed in Afghanistan (in theory). Such cut and dry rules only lead to bad things happening. It is important to clarify the context around people gathering before actually taking action.

    I realize this whole video is emotionally charged, like I said, I was rather worked up after watching it once, but get a hold of yourselves. So quick to throw stones at other commenters when I agree with you. As far as my comment about context goes, I am saying that Americans (in general) do not appreciate the context of any given event. They make snap decisions based on very cursory information on the spot. There is no appreciation for why something is happening.

    Calm the hell down. Go after the politicians that turn the military lose in a population, not the military itself. It is merely executing its orders. Watching that video, that is exactly what they did. The correct answer, is withdraw, not point fingers at a single aircrew.

    Guys with guns wandering around looking for “bad guys” inevitably do find (perceived) “bad guys”. Why is that a shock to anyone? You put guys who train to kill in an area looking for people with guns, don’t be surprised when cameras and brooms look a lot like guns. You need police, not military soldiers in there. Soldiers are not policemen and able to be as close or as personable as police.

    It is sad that our government has decided to turn teenagers and people in their early 20s into policemen, but that is where it is.

    Blame the policy, not the soldiers.

    • phred says:

      Glad you are still around. I have been mulling over your blame the photographers stance and it seems to me that it is based on a premise that the United States government has the right to fly heavily armed helicopters with guys pumped up and on a hair trigger to kill civilians on a public street from a distance with limited information.

      So lets take that assumption at face value. Do you also then assume that any government has the right to fly over your neighborhood, where you live, where you work, where your children go to school and open fire if they see something that looks suspicious from a distance?

      If you cannot honestly answer that question with an unequivocal yes, then why should Iraqis (or the rest of the world for that matter) do so in this instance?

  57. wirerat1 says:

    Also, I noticed the link to the DailyKos piece. Don’t just look at the still images, actually watch the 39min video, or even the 17min cutdown one. Looking at those images alone, you are being given the author’s particular view of the matter. Put yourself in the position of those pilots and you tell me that they were out for blood. It sounded like an aircrew out for another sortie.

    Lastly, I agree that the event as a whole was very regrettable, but I am more upset by the fact that our government tried to cover it up. It only makes it more difficult to deal with and acts as a catalyst for all the anger in response to the event itself.

    Once again, the answer is to get us out there, not to try to micromanage the situation further.

    • hotdog says:

      “Let me shoot. Come on let me shoot.”

      … at the van containing little kids, and at the innocent man you just mangled, who you NEVER had any real confirmation was a threat.

      Your weak apologia not withstanding, THAT is a war crime.

      THAT is the stuff that makes HIDING the video the kind of thing the LYING ASS PENTAGON HAS to do to try and save its LYING ASS reputation.

      • wirerat1 says:

        I would argue if you put yourself in the mindset of that flight crew and you thought that everything you had done up to that point was valid and true, you would believe that some insurgents or whatever were driving up and trying to collect weapons and the wounded.

        As obviously as misguided as that appears to be after the fact, looking at in 3 years removed, put yourself in the position of that flight crew in 2007, George Bush with still a year+ left in office and tell me that they didn’t believe they thought they were reacting in accordance with the ROE.

        Look back on the past 100 years of war, while what transpired to you and I is a horrible atrocity, put yourself in the position of a trained killer (professional), who is trained to fly missions daily to scout and kill insurgents.

        What do you want him to do? Cry, stifle a tear in the middle of the action? The military worked long and hard to train its soldiers to NOT THINK to do as their training has instructed them. To REACT not contemplate their decisions.

        As I stated before, everyone here should be upset at the system, the policies, the 100+ years of military training that takes the humanity out of the soldier enough so they can carry on in war. They are not normal human beings. They are conditioned and brainwashed to carry out their orders. Yes they distance themselves from the “enemy” and they are not seen as human beings. How combat effective would any force be if you saw the enemy and contemplated their family or how their children will do without Daddy anymore?

        You expect too much. The military trains professional combat forces. You want touchy feely policemen intimately familiar with their neighborhoods. That is not what the Army is nor trains to be.

        Blame the policy, get us out of there.

        • hotdog says:

          “Blame the policy, not the soldiers.”

          The two are not mutually exclusive.

          Firing on a van functioning as an ambulance containing people you have ZERO ID WRT weapons is murder. Plain and simple. Clear as day, unambiguously – MURDER. Do what the Constitution and rule of law you’ve forgotten about defending demands, prosecute them. Quit making excuses for intellectually lazy, trigger-happy, blood-thirsty automatons.

          In case you haven’t noticed, they make our military and our country look inhuman. Hearts and minds and all that, you know.

        • klynn says:

          I would argue if you put yourself in the mindset of that flight crew and you thought that everything you had done up to that point was valid and true, you would believe that some insurgents or whatever were driving up and trying to collect weapons and the wounded.

          It’s the mindset that is the problem. Nothing was validated. Nothing.

          “C’mon let me shot him.”

          That’s a great mindset towards a seriously injured, unarmed person.

          • cregan says:

            What wireat1 is bringing up is quite valid.

            You and others are willing to do what it appears the soldiers did–shoot first, ask questions later.

            The video does not present all of the facts available for the incident. It presents some, and those facts it presents can be looked at a number of ways depending on the remaining facts.

            If after all of the facts are known, the situation is in actuality like the small video here makes it appear, then, there is a real problem.

            But, it isn’t conclusively known yet.

            Here’s another example; journalists are people, subject to the same foibles as anyone. Since there were many policemen who were actually insurgents, it is possible the journalists were. Possible, not likely. Certainly, if I were an insurgent leader, that would be a good cover for someone. Even if the person were a journalist beforehand, it doesn’t mean they didn’t feel they had a duty to throw off the invaders or whatever way you wish to phrase it.

            • phred says:

              So you think it is appropriate to have armed helicopters patrolling your neighborhood then? Just curious…

            • behindthefall says:

              And so you advocate solving this dilemma by killing first and asking questions later?

            • hotdog says:

              Shoot first? WTF?! I guess poor wirerat1 is now lying in the sewage strewn gutter with blood pooring out of his lethal gut wounds?

              Wirerat1 is not “bringing up a valid point.”
              He is excusing murder.
              The video is clear. ROE were not followed: “Pick up a weapon, pick up a weapon…” aw shucks, No weapon? Who’s in the van? Who cares? Shoot em up anyway! Yeehaw!

        • skdadl says:

          wireratt, you are arguing that nobody can ever be considered responsible. You can always say that, of anyone: “Put yourself in his shoes.”

          Nuremberg says you’re wrong. It is a catastrophe to Western civilization that we haven’t had the brains or the spine to live up to that heritage, to make sure that no one gets out of high school without understanding that a citizen is always responsible.

          • Leen says:

            oh the peasants know. Different rules apply to them than apply to those in power. They know that the endlessly repeated statement that “no one is above the law” is complete horseshit. They know.

            Bush administration is brought into power by a partisan Supreme Court Judicial coup, then the Bush administration lies this nation into an immoral and illegal invasion of Iraq and send in the peasants family members to do multinationals, neo, theo, oil cons bidding based on false intelligence, they rewrite torture laws, undermine the Dept of Justice, out an undercover agent, illegally wiretap, etc etc and No one is held accountable. The peasants clearly get the message. The disregard for national and international laws, treaties etc trickles down. The disrespect for our so called Justice system trickles down

  58. skdadl says:

    I’m told that CBC Newsworld played the entire 17-minute video this morning. (Newsworld is a specialty channel of the public broadcaster here — buncha socialists and separatists, o’ course.)

  59. klynn says:

    Nuremberg says you’re wrong. It is a catastrophe to Western civilization that we haven’t had the brains or the spine to live up to that heritage, to make sure that no one gets out of high school without understanding that a citizen is always responsible.

    I’m putting that on a t-shirt to wear on The Fourth of July.

  60. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Good follow up on this from Glenn Greenwald this morning. That this behavior was investigated and explicitly found to be consistent with how the US wants its wars to be fought is a good indicator that this is standard procedure. It was chance that two of the dead were Reuters people, which made it harder to claim that they were nameless AQ “terrorists”, attacking a US unit blocks away and which they couldn’t see, with the weapon more feared by our government and military than any other – a camera.

    • Leen says:

      Julian ‘another day at the office”
      Glenn “business as usual”

      The MSM has been complicit. Never doing stories on why ‘we can not count’ the Iraqi dead. How the Bush administration was so successful at sweeping the Lancet Report under the rug. Do you ever hear or see Rachel doing any stories on this issue? Covering the 5 million Iraqi people displaced?

      Chris Matthews, Katie Couric, Neil Conan, Terri Gross etc have not touched these issues. Neil and Terri are too busy doing shows to support sanctions against Iran. Moving on to Iran. Scott Simon too. Both Terri and Scott interviewed Rosanne Saberi last week. Both Terri and Scott allowed Roxanne to bang away on the neocons theme bad bad bad Iran

  61. earlofhuntingdon says:

    One of the reasons I found the official Reuters response to this video so troubling was that it used the passive voice, which separates identifiable actors from the acts they do and the consequences they cause. These soldiers bear responsibility; more ought to be lain at the foot of the political and military high command which expects and demands such behavior.

  62. Gitcheegumee says:

    Indeed, there are many unanswered questions relating to this incident.

    One that keeps nagging at me is WHY weren’t these people captured instead of killed?

    I would have thought they would have been more important captured alive,and questioned for information,than mowed down with no questions asked.

  63. PJEvans says:

    The LA Times had this yesterday on their website, buried well down their ‘US & World’ page as a link to Al Jazeera. Today it isn’t even there. (It’s a page that, in spite of its name, has very little world news, most of the space being taken up by US news, sometimes the same story in several places. Sic transit gloria newspaper.)

  64. Gitcheegumee says:

    Just out of curiousity, I was researching how many Reuters reporters had been killed since the Iraq War began.

    I have yet to establish a figure, but I DID run across an interesting piece about a Reuters reporter who had been involved with the expose of the Haditha incident,one year prior to this July,’07 tape.

    Pretty intriguing-and don’t be put off by the title of the link site,btw.

    Haditha Reporter Was Jailed By US – Twice | Sweetness & LightJun 1, 2006 … As many as seven journalists for international media groups were held by … So after his first arrest, and after five months in prison at the …. Reuters journalist al-Mashhadani was arrested by U.S. troops on August …
    sweetness-light.com/…/reporter-jailed-by-us-broke-haditha-has-familiar-name – Cached

  65. nextstopchicago says:

    I just thought I’d mention that the Chgo Sun-Times, which has run very little international news in the last year or so, ran a fairly prominent story about this. Just thought it was interesting in light of people saying it won’t/hasn’t gotten mainstream coverage. It doesn’t make up for thos who ignore it.

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