05 Apr

Is this the true face of U.S. Military Operations in Iraq ?

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

The website’s organisers say they were given the footage, which they say comes from cameras on US Apache helicopters.

They say they decrypted it, but would not reveal who gave it to them. 

The WikiLeaks site campaigns for freedom of information and posts leaked documents online. So far there has been no official Pentagon response.


High-quality video  

The video, released on Monday, is of high quality and appears to be authentic, the BBC’s Adam Brookes in Washington says. 

It is accompanied by a recording of the pilots’ radio transmissions and those of US troops on the ground. 

The video shows a street in Baghdad and a group of about eight people, whom the helicopter pilots identify as armed insurgents. 

The transmissions says of one of the individuals: “He’s got an RPG [rocket-propelled grenade]. I’m going to fire.” 

After a voice on the transmission urges the pilot to “light ’em all up”, the individuals on the street are shot by the gunship’s cannon. 

A few minutes later a van drives to the scene, and its occupants appear to start picking up a wounded person. 

It, too, is fired upon. Altogether, around 12 people die. 

‘Hostile force’  

The transmission continues: “Looks like we’ve got some slight movement from the van that was engaged. Looks like a kid.” 

US soldiers on the ground establish there are two child casualties and agree to take them to a hospital, according to the transmission. 

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

Two journalists working for Reuters were killed on the day the incident took place in July 2007. 

A spokeswoman for the news agency said they were not sure if the individuals in the footage included those two Reuters journalists. 

WikiLeaks has published a statement from Reuters news editor-in-chief David Schlesinger saying that the video was “graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result”. 

At the time, the US military said the helicopters were engaged in combat operations against a hostile force. 

WikiLeaks said the video demonstrated that civilians had died in the incident, and that the US military’s rules of engagement were flawed. 

The website’s organisers complained recently of coming under surveillance by the US government, and of harassment by other governments, ostensibly for their role in posting leaked documents on sensitive subjects.

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Pancha Tattva dasa

I saw this today and got sick to my stomach.

When you’re “identifying” enemy soldiers from a half-mile away or more, in a circling helicopter, this is what you get. It’s disgusting. I wonder how many times this has happened in Irag. What about Afghanistan? Just imagine.

I dare say that Iraqis won’t congregate around journalists from now on.

And what is the justification for shooting people in a van who stopped to pick up one poor wounded soul? I remember reading of the loathing our American soldiers of the Second World War felt for the Japanese who deliberately shot medics tending the wounded. Yes, I know the medics were clearly marked as such, but to fire on someone coming to aid a man who’s probably dying? My God. Heartless insanity.

We have assumed the worst faults of our enemies. It is abominable, and I will not hesitate to say that I am sometimes very ashamed to admit I’m an American. Iraqi war hawks be damned.

Sorry, I’m just angry right now. I know there have been mistakes and outright atrocities on both sides of wars since time began, but this is madness.

One more little rant: This whole episode is in stark contrast to the rules of war of ancient India, which I have studied to some extent. When a warrior engaged another, it was required that they stand before each other for a fair fight. If one warrior dropped his weapon, the code called for the other warrior to allow him to retrieve it before continuing the fight. In other words, there was a code of chivalry, of proper martial conduct, even 5000 years ago. We claim to have advanced as human beings in this modern age, but I see little evidence of it.

I know, I know: We can’t apply the rules of war from a by-gone age to this era of atomic weapons and IED’s and Predator drones, but neither should we abandon our humanity to the blind principle of ‘might makes right.’ Otherwise, what we now do to our enemies may one day be inflicted upon our own people – even by the men and women who would profess to protect them.

I will end with a description of what I saw on someone’s property in rural Arkansas recently: There were two pickup trucks. One had a mannequin dressed in military fatigues standing in the truck bed, poised behind a mock machine gun mounted on the roof. The other vehicle was draped with a banner which read “Prosecute Obama.”

Madness is leaching into the heartland, and one day no one will be safe.


Pancha Tattva dasa

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