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Wikileaks Releases Video of Journalist Killings 1671

Posted by Soulskill
from the rules-of-engagement dept.
linguizic writes "Today Wikileaks released a video of the US military firing large caliber weapons into a crowd that included a photojournalist and a driver for Reuters, and at a van containing two children who were involved in a rescue. Wikileaks maintains that this video was covered up by the US military when Reuters asked for an official investigation. This is the same video that has supposedly made the editors of Wikileaks a target of the State Department and/or the CIA, as was discussed a couple weeks ago." Needless to say, this video is probably not work safe (language and violence), and not for the faint of heart.
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Wikileaks Releases Video of Journalist Killings

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  • Video (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:26PM (#31736238) Journal

    A short version with some initial analysis: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0 [youtube.com]
    Full version: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is9sxRfU-ik [youtube.com]

    If you read the comments from Army and US in the video before it was now released to public, they're just really blatant lies. They also did not release the video when Reuters requested it by Freedom of Information Act. Like the earlier news note, they followed, photographed, filmed and detained a Wikileaks editor about this video, not knowing what will they uncover. There's definitely more dirty secrets they don't want anyone to know.

    In the video you see the people weren't attacking anyone, weren't targeting anyone (hell, all they had was cameras!) and that they were just civilians walking on the street. The military clearly had no idea what they were doing. Now theres plans to employ remotely controlled UAC's too? Make it a video game so that you don't need to care about the people you are murdering. These are people with families, with kids, with a whole lot of their own life, dreams and childhood. Then some idiot with large caliber weapons comes and shoots them without even a blink of an eye or thinking what he is doing. In top of that the truth is held from the public and the families of those who were killed, and US Army admits no mistake. I have no respect for these people - they're scum.

    • Re:Video (Score:5, Informative)

      by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:33PM (#31736400)

      Wikileaks also recently released CIA "Red Cell" [telegraph.co.uk] files on how they will manipulate public opinion to keep countries around the world supporting the Afghanistan war this summer [salon.com], a time when casualties are expected to rise and they say "public apathy will no longer be enough" to guarantee support for the war.

    • Re:Video (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lamppost (1774314) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:40PM (#31736532)

      I could follow the actions of the gunship operators up to a certain point YOU knew they had cameras, they did not. However, the targets in question did not seem hostile nor did the threat of an RPG seem very real. The firing on the van though, without question, was a mistake. They were clearly evacuating a wounded man, something I thought was pretty much a universal no-no for engagement.

      This is what happens in war, this is what happens when you put kids in situations where there lives are in danger and you've taught them to kill. Rather than this specific instance (which has happened in every war ever on every side) I think the real story should be about the cover-up, and the actual purpose of the war itself.

      • Re:Video (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RsG (809189) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:02PM (#31737066)

        I could follow the actions of the gunship operators up to a certain point YOU knew they had cameras, they did not. However, the targets in question did not seem hostile nor did the threat of an RPG seem very real. The firing on the van though, without question, was a mistake. They were clearly evacuating a wounded man, something I thought was pretty much a universal no-no for engagement.

        Second on that. Firing on people you mistake for the enemy (and who look armed, might even have been armed) is understandable. Firing on a civilian vehicle trying to rescue the wounded is not. A better solution, given that they did have ground assets in the area at the time (as evidenced by the arrival of a group of IFVs shortly after the engagement) would have been to let the ground forces intercept the van. They have the option of stopping it without killing the people inside.

        Moreover, if you watch the video, it's pretty obvious that the people who get out of the van aren't armed. At the stage where the van is evacing the wounded reporter, the gunships crew has no reason to assume they pose any threat, to them or the IFVs and infantry about to arrive. What was the point in opening fire?

        This is precisely the sort of scenario you want to avoid. If you have a situation like that, you need eyes on the ground. The air crew couldn't see the kids in their downrange; a ground of infantry stopping the vehicle surely would have.

      • Re:Video (Score:5, Informative)

        by Wrath0fb0b (302444) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:15PM (#31737412)

        They were clearly evacuating a wounded man, something I thought was pretty much a universal no-no for engagement.

        I believe you are mistaken on this point. International law and the current US ROE most certainly allow one to fire on a retreating enemy target until they law down their arms and equipment and surrender. A duty to allow enemy troops to retreat with their weapons and equipment intact in order to regroup and attack again at some future time makes absolutely no sense. Customary international law (according to the Red Cross) states it this way:

        http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/WebART/612-047?OpenDocument [icrc.org]
        Rule 47. Attacking persons who are recognised as hors de combat is prohibited. A person hors de combat is:
                    (a) anyone who is in the power of an adverse party;
                    (b) anyone who is defenceless because of unconsciousness, shipwreck, wounds or sickness; or
                    (c) anyone who clearly expresses an intention to surrender; provided he or she abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape

        All of this is moot, of course, if the man is not properly an enemy target to begin with, a question I take no position on here because it is a factual dispute and I just wanted to post on the law as I understand it. I'm not at all claiming that it was proper to attack these folks, only that armed retreat is not and has never been grounds for protection under the laws of war. To claim protection, a combatant must lay down his arms and cease trying to escape.

        See also:

        http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1314&dat=19910227&id=rnQfAAAAIBAJ&sjid=OPEDAAAAIBAJ&pg=5146,4465272 [google.com]
        http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1842&dat=19910227&id=7k8eAAAAIBAJ&sjid=XscEAAAAIBAJ&pg=1239,3716450 [google.com]

      • Re:Video (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:29PM (#31737784)

        This is what happens in war

        This. This is the part that is always missing from certain sections of anti-war protestors and war-supporters alike.

        War is messy. War sucks. Sometimes you shoot your own people. Sometimes you miss the enemy and hit some goat farmer in the middle of nowhere; sometimes, you shoot him directly. Sometimes you shoot the goat-farmer because you thought he had a weapon, sometimes you shoot him just because.

        War is never clean, can never be clean. Even the old standards of a bunch of guys meeting up in a field to club each other over the head had collateral - how do you think they fed their army on months-long campaigns?

        War is not heroic, it's not glorious, and it doesn't solve anything. It just is the standard political discourse, carried on through bullets and bombs. Sometimes, there's a need for that. Sometimes, there isn't.

        I like videos like these, because they drive home the point about how messy war exactly is. They start the discussion of "Is our goal worth this cost?" Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. But when you get into a war, be ready for these situations. Because they cannot be avoided.

    • Re:Video (Score:5, Insightful)

      by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:40PM (#31736534)

      These are people with families, with kids

      Worse, the video shows two children clearly visible in the front seat of a van being shot up by the gunship after their parents stopped to help the wounded from the first attack. The soldier commentary says something like "serves them right" for stopping.
      Never fear, there is a new "Cybersecurity" act [slashdot.org] now to allow the president to block disturbing leaks and wikileaks from challenging incompetence and corruption in the future. Nothing to see here, move along.

  • by synthesizerpatel (1210598) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:30PM (#31736346)

    For anyone who complains that the main-stream (or alternative media) aren't doing their job, perhaps you should make a donation too. The truth needs to be known and if wikileaks is the only entity out there willing to take that risk, the least we can do is support them.

  • by MaXintosh (159753) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:32PM (#31736372)
    I find this all sorts of appalling. As someone else who started watching it said, "That's really screwed up." But that said, I have almost no hope that this will ever go anywhere. We've seen a seemingly never ending parade of illegal and barbaric behaviour come to light in both Iraq and Afghanistan, on the part of US forces, but each time nothing ever happens because of it. We all seem to just shrug our shoulders and go on with our lives.

    Wikileaks is just peeing into the wind. Nothing will probably come of this, because outrage is dead.

    I'm really hoping someone proves my cynical attitude wrong.
    • by royallthefourth (1564389) <royallthefourth@gmail.com> on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:38PM (#31736490)

      Americans don't really have ways to participate in organizations that will stop this sort of thing from happening.

      Republicans endorse it, Democrats endorse it, and third parties are barely even a sideshow. As far as I know, there's no group of "stop sending our military to kill browns" that I can give money to.

      I can do all kinds of stuff about domestic policy, try to encourage foreign policy to increase intervention (Darfur (no thanks)), but there's nothing I can do to decrease foreign intervention. It's ugly and the citizens are powerless.
      I can't even really blame the troops that much because it's basically a trap for poor people who can't find a job to do the bidding of our imperialist leaders.

      I highly recommend everyone read Killing Hope by William Blum to get a good rundown of how much this has been happening in just the last 60 years.

      • by MaXintosh (159753) on Monday April 05, 2010 @12:43PM (#31736634)
        I think the problem is that Republicans (I speak as if they're a vague monolithic organization) feel they have to go gangbusters on the war, no matter what. Because it started under their tenure as president.
        Democrats (generalization!) feel like that they have to support it, or else risk alienating voters by appearing 'soft' on security.

        And the public is very distractable, is the problem. It seems like political views are more hereditary now, instead of come to through introspection.
        I think you got a good point about there being nothing to we little people can do to decrease foreign intervetion. But I guess what I'd say is that maybe we can try to lessen the effects of foreign intervention. Give money to try and help the people who's country/lives have gone to hell in a hand-basket. I'm not sure what NPOs are doing work in Afganistan and Iraq...
  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:04PM (#31737134) Homepage

    That was all I needed to hear.

    To me the difference between a murderer and a soldier is that a murderer wants to kill. The vast majority of my family and myself included have been or are currently in the U.S. armed services. I am not "anti-military." This is a group of yahoos shooting fish in a barrel. Reminds me of that scene in full metal jacket -- "How can you shoot women and children?" "Easy, you just don't lead 'em as much!"

  • by BobMcD (601576) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:13PM (#31737354)

    This video clearly demonstrates why policemen do not operate from behind the gun mount on an Apache helicopter.

    1) Were or were there not any guns? I didn't see any. If there were, were these guns illegal? Is it really legal to fire on a crowd of people because one or two might be armed? Remember the men with weapons outside the Obamacare townhalls? Would it be okay to turn automatic (anti-vehicle) weapons on that crowd? Did the men on the ground know this was the case before they got shot? Did they even know who was doing the shooting? None of this is clear.

    2) Was opening fire on the crowd the only option? Could the choppers have moved away, evading the range of the 'RPG', until the ground forces arrived? Was anyone's life in immediate jeopardy to the point that the military had to open fire?

    3) Was this a 'battlefield', as the soldiers claim it was, or was it 'Thursday'? See number 1, but what reasonable chance did the deceased have to avoid getting shot that day?

    Police procedure is filled with examples of how do deal with situations such as these. Also, they tend to arrest, rather than assassinate.

    My point - You cannot police Iraq with soldiers, unless you just don't care about guilt or innocence, life or death.

  • Transcript (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:24PM (#31737658)

    going to try to post transcript, prolly will get filtered as spam, guess we'll see...

    00:03 Okay I got it. 00:05 Last conversation Hotel Two-Six. 00:09 Roger Hotel Two-Six [Apache helicopter 1], uh, [this is] Victor Charlie Alpha. Look, do you want your Hotel Two-Two two el-
    00:14 I got a black vehicle under target. It's arriving right to the north of the mosque.
    00:17 Yeah, I would like that. Over.
    00:21 Moving south by the mosque dome. Down that road.
    00:27 Okay we got a target fifteen coming at you. It's a guy with a weapon.
    00:32 Roger [acknowledged].
    00:39 There's a...
    00:42 There's about, ah, four or five...
    00:44 Bushmaster Six [ground control] copy [i hear you] One-Six.
    00:48 ...this location and there's more that keep walking by and one of them has a weapon.
    00:52 Roger received target fifteen.
    00:55 K. 00:57 See all those people standing down there. 01:06 Stay firm. And open the courtyard. 01:09 Yeah roger. I just estimate there's probably about twenty of them. 01:13 There's one, yeah.
    01:15 Oh yeah.
    01:18 I don't know if that's a...
    01:19 Hey Bushmaster element [ground forces control], copy on the one-six.
    01:21 Thats a weapon.
    01:22 Yeah.
    01:23 Hotel Two-Six; Crazy Horse One-Eight [second Apache helicopter].
    01:29 Copy on the one-six, Bushmaster Six-Romeo. Roger.
    01:32 Fucking prick.
    01:33 Hotel Two-Six this is Crazy Horse One-Eight [communication between chopper 1 and chopper 2]. Have individuals with weapons.
    01:41 Yup. He's got a weapon too.
    01:43 Hotel Two-Six; Crazy Horse One-Eight. Have five to six individuals with AK47s [automatic rifles]. Request permission to engage [shoot].
    01:51 Roger that. Uh, we have no personnel east of our position. So, uh, you are free to engage. Over.
    02:00 All right, we'll be engaging.
    02:02 Roger, go ahead.
    02:03 I'm gonna... I cant get 'em now because they're behind that building.
    02:09 Um, hey Bushmaster element...
    02:10 Is that an RPG [Rocket Propelled Grenade]?
    02:11 All right, we got a guy with an RPG.
    02:13 I'm gonna fire. 02:14 Okay.
    02:15 No hold on. Lets come around. Behind buildings right now from our point of view. ... Okay, we're gonna come around.
    02:19 Hotel Two-Six; have eyes on individual with RPG. Getting ready to fire. We won't...
    02:23 Yeah, we had a guy shoot---and now he's behind the building.
    02:26 God damn it.
    02:28 Uh, negative, he was, uh, right in front of the Brad [Bradley Fighting Vehicle; an tracked Armored Personal Carrier that looks like a tank]. Uh, 'bout, there, one o'clock. [direction/orientation]
    02:34 Haven't seen anything since then.
    02:36 Just fuckin', once you get on 'em just open 'em up.
    02:38 All right.
    02:40 I see your element, uh, got about four Humvees [Armored cars], uh, out along...
    02:43 You're clear. 02:44 All right, firing.
    02:47 Let me know when you've got them.
    02:49 Lets shoot. 02:50 Light 'em all up.
    02:52 Come on, fire!
    02:57 Keep shoot, keep shoot. [keep shooting]
    02:59 keep shoot. 03:02 keep shoot.
    03:05 Hotel.. Bushmaster Two-Six, Bushmaster Two-Six, we need to move, time now!
    03:10 All right, we just engaged all eight individuals.
    03:12 Yeah, we see two birds [helicopters] and we're still fire [not firing].
    03:14 Roger.
    03:15 I got 'em.
    03:16 Two-six, this is Two-Six, we're mobile.
    03:19 Oops, I'm sorry what was going on?
    03:20 God damn it, Kyle.
    03:23 All right, hahaha, I hit [shot] 'em...
    03:28 Uh, you're clear.
    03:30 All right, I'm just trying to find targets again.
    03:38 Bushmaster Six, this is Bushmaster Two-Six.
    03:40 Got a bunch of bodies layin' there.
    03:42 All right, we got about, uh, eight individuals.
    03:46 Yeah, we got one guy crawling around down there, but, uh, you know, we go

  • by phoebusQ (539940) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:33PM (#31737886)
    So I've spent about two and a half years deployed to Iraq, and seen my share of combat. I've served in several different infantry positions, both as a dismount and as a gunner in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle (the "Brad" mentioned in the video). I am always skeptical of these sorts of videos, because they lack context. As a third party, one never knows the full tactical situation, the histories of individuals and groups in the area, the mission and orders of the soldiers involved. So everything I say must be understood to be the view of a third party observer, one with a fair amount of boots-on-the-ground experience, but a third party nonetheless. Based solely on what appears in the video, it doesn't look like the gunner(s) had sufficient justification to fire. Simple possession of an AK-47 is legal in Iraq, and having it on the street isn't always enough to warrant immediate termination, and certainly not when the target is standing in a crowd of unarmed personnel. The "RPG" was poorly identified, and didn't appear to be of significant threat to the Crazyhorse element. It does sound like there had been recent combat in the area, so that may be why there was a minimum standard of ID used prior to engaging the targets. One thing to remember is that Bushmaster element can't always see everything that Crazyhorse does; they rely to some degree on the helos' info to inform their commands. If nothing else, this looked like a textbook situation for dismounted troops with air cover. It sounds like they had Bradleys and dismounts nearby, and they probably should have been sent in to deal with the situation. Dismounts have an infinitely superior view of what exactly is happening on the ground, and when combined with top-down info from the birds, they can properly assess a situation. If these RPGs and AKs were really cameras as reported by the site, then that would have been obvious to dismounts. Firing on the van completely blew my mind. This looks like a series of tactical mistakes combined with an overeager air element, combined with total disregard for the normal RoE (and again, I don't know if they were operating on some kind of modified Rules of Engagement). U.S. soldiers, in my experience, go to great lengths to prevent civilian casualties. Maybe things are different in the air, but those of us working on the ground have to look at everything we do, up close and personal. Don't paint U.S. forces with a broad brush based on the actions and mistakes of a few individuals. Also, remember that it's not the line troops that are performing coverups. Talk to your government about that.
  • by stimpleton (732392) on Monday April 05, 2010 @01:49PM (#31738296)
    Despite this being an illegal war, this event could save lives. Public opinion will count against this. The wife at home espousing his husband is "in the war" and "flies a helicopter" could possibly now be met with silence and a few nods, rather than wholesale overt praise at the dinner party. This sort of thing is akin to the photos from the Vietnam War of the children walking from a village, burned and with skin hanging off them after a napalm attack. That series of photos did more damage than any military attack.
  • by VShael (62735) on Monday April 05, 2010 @02:40PM (#31739374) Journal

    Remember this, the next time you hear someone push the "they hate us for our freedoms" meme.

    Just because this stuff is covered up in the US, doesn't mean it's covered up elsewhere.

    The people of the United States are often the most ignorant of the atrocities being carried out in their name.

    • by copponex (13876) on Monday April 05, 2010 @03:58PM (#31740792) Homepage

      The people of the United States are often the most ignorant of the atrocities being carried out in their name.

      The real problem is that once they found out, they rationalize their brutality and pretty much pretend that it doesn't exist. That's why the guys who fire from gun ships a mile a way are heroes, and the suicide bombers are terrorists. It's why 24 is a number one show. It's why we can see gun violence 24/7 on American television, but a single nipple is a national tragedy of exposing our children to immorality.

      Fighting the good fight has nothing to do with the courage it takes, or how much you put on the line to defend your country, especially if your home country is Iraq. It's entirely dependent on what side you are on, and Americans of course always have God on our side. We're always right. We'll never apologize for our crimes. We live in the greatest country God ever gave Man, according to the top three TV personalities on Fox News, which is the top "news" source on American television.

      Until we suffer an invasion on our home soil, someone is going to be angling to send our standing army off to die to make a buck or two invading someone else's. And that's not a good prerequisite for becoming a prosperous and peaceful nation.

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