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Collateral Murder: Pentagon vs. WikiLeaks





quex
Read the TIME article

Visit the site and view the videos for yourself.

This whole story makes me sick. There is no wonder left in my mind why US soldiers are or ever were viewed as monsters in the middle east. A mistake like this, if it WAS a mistake, is unforgivable. If it was intentional... damn, I really hope it wasn't intentional.

From the article:

Quote:
The crews of the two Apaches can be heard speaking about a handful of men, saying some are armed with AK-47s and one with a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, although it's not clear from the video as released that such weapons are being carried. For alleged insurgents carrying weapons while a U.S. attack helicopter circles overhead, the men seem remarkably nonchalant, strolling unhurriedly along a Baghdad street. After getting command approval to attack the armed group, an initial volley from an Apache's 30mm cannon blows some of them apart. An Apache crewman says, "Ha, ha, ha — I hit 'em." Another comment: "Look at those dead bastards." When a wounded man is seen crawling for cover, an Apache crew member hopes he reaches for a gun to justify shooting him again. "All you got to do is pick up a weapon," he says.

Suddenly a van appears and Iraqis hop out to help the man. The helicopter crew seeks and receives permission to fire on the vehicle. In the ensuing barrage, two children inside the vehicle are apparently wounded, and their father, a Good Samaritan who had stopped to take the wounded man to the hospital, is allegedly killed. When U.S. ground troops arrive later, they discover the youngsters. "Well, it's their fault," a member of the Apache crew says, "for bringing kids into a battle." Initially, the U.S. said the dead were all insurgents and had been killed in battle, but the video as released seems to offer no evidence of hostile intent by those on the ground.


Good god.
rheanna
Okay this is time of war; It is either be killed or kill the enemy. When the guy looked around the corner he had something in hand. How was the pilot suppose to know it was just camera? How do you know that camera wasn't a weapon? Those pilots did not know they were journalists. Now, secondly when they were trying to help the guy and they were no combative than yes I agree it was wrong to open fire on them, considering they were unarmed. But, better to be safe than sorry. I don't excuse the actions of the thrill seeking gun toting psychopath because that guy seemed to enjoy it a little too much.. Like it was game to him. I'm sorry those journalists were in the dangerous path but maybe a lot our soldiers lives were saved too because of this pilots actions. I mean we just don't know. We weren't there and from that viewpoint it did look like the guy was pointing something at the helicopter.

I maybe the gunner will feel remorse, maybe not. Was his actions wrong? Some was but not all of it. I think it's just a sad misunderstanding.
deanhills
quex wrote:
This whole story makes me sick. There is no wonder left in my mind why US soldiers are or ever were viewed as monsters in the middle east.
I would remove the US in front of soldiers and replace "middle east" with "the world". War is ugly. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Soldiers are under enormous pressure when they are in a war zone, and some of their decisions may be completely off when looked at in hindsight. Probably good to know however that the army has a system of investigating issues like these, and are probably harder on their soldiers than any court of justice could hope to be.
quex
rheanna wrote:
Okay this is time of war; It is either be killed or kill the enemy. When the guy looked around the corner he had something in hand. How was the pilot suppose to know it was just camera? How do you know that camera wasn't a weapon? Those pilots did not know they were journalists.


If you are a militant, when a military helicopter piloted by your enemies is hovering nearby, you are exceedingly likely to duck and run. Not walk calmly down the street. Especially not in a shirt and trousers, with nothing concealing your identity or only a single "weapon" slung over your shoulder, hanging at your waist. I do not understand how a camera could be mistaken for a weapon. It doesn't even have a telephoto lens on it that could be mistaken for a barrel. It's a small, boxy thing hanging from a strap on his shoulder; you don't carry bombs like that, and you don't carry guns or ammo like that. The closest thing to military equipment that would be carried in that fashion is a radio, or maybe a pair of binoculars. Neither of those items counts as a weapon.

I personally believe the pilot and gunner were "warblind"; that is, they no longer felt the compulsion to look closely and judge carefully when identifying a possible target. This is a common symptom of fatigue or battle stress. In many similar cases during the Vietnam war, soldiers would admit weeks or months later that they saw their targets were women or children carrying baskets of clothes or food rather than weapons, but at the time, it seemed appropriate to shoot at any Vietnamese who was carrying anything. This sort of generalization and postponed realization is well-documented, but not inevitable. Any modern military ought to be taking precautions to avoid it.

Quote:
Now, secondly when they were trying to help the guy and they were no combative than yes I agree it was wrong to open fire on them, considering they were unarmed. But, better to be safe than sorry.


"Better to be safe than sorry" is entirely non-applicable when you are in a helicopter gunship, and your potential enemy has just arrived on the scene far below in a van. Not only is this common sense, it is basic training. You never shoot at a vehicle or any considerably large container without a reasonable understanding of who and what is inside of it. What if it had been filled with explosives? The helicopter could have been destroyed in a ball of fire. What if it had been filled with other US soldiers? Friendly fire deaths are one of the worst outcomes in battle. In this case, it was filled with innocent civilians, including children. There is nothing the van or it's occupants could have done to threaten the (armored) helicopter otherwise, short of firing at it, at which point it would have become appropriate to fire back.

Quote:
I don't excuse the actions of the thrill seeking gun toting psychopath because that guy seemed to enjoy it a little too much.. Like it was game to him. I'm sorry those journalists were in the dangerous path but maybe a lot our soldiers lives were saved too because of this pilots actions. I mean we just don't know.


And neither did they, obviously. And that is exactly when you hold your fire.
quex
deanhills wrote:
quex wrote:
This whole story makes me sick. There is no wonder left in my mind why US soldiers are or ever were viewed as monsters in the middle east.
I would remove the US in front of soldiers and replace "middle east" with "the world". War is ugly. Bad things happen to good people all the time. Soldiers are under enormous pressure when they are in a war zone, and some of their decisions may be completely off when looked at in hindsight.


This is entirely true. It should also be something a modern military with access to good technology and psychological care can avoid. We have too many punch-drunk, overstressed, zombified soldiers. We need to fix this.

Quote:
Probably good to know however that the army has a system of investigating issues like these, and are probably harder on their soldiers than any court of justice could hope to be.


From the report:

Quote:
The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured.


...and from the timeline:

Quote:
July 12th, 2007 New York Times reports that two Iraqi journalists were killed in a militia clash with U.S. forces - ''There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,'' said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad.

July 13th, 2007 Press statement from public affairs office in camp Victory reports on the event. "There is no question that Coalition Forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force," said Lt. Col Scott Bleichwehl, spokesperson and public affairs officer for MND-B.

July 13th, 2007 Reuters blog posts an entry on the killings of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh. Namir was the 109th journalist to be killed in Iraq since the invasion in 2003, and Saeed the 40th member of support staff.

July 16th, 2007 Reuters seeks U.S. probe into the killings of their staff. "Our preliminary investigation raises real questions about whether there was fighting at the time the two men were killed," said David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters. Specifically, Reuters wanted an explanation of why the two cameras were confiscated, access to any cameras onboard the Apache helicopters that were involved in the incident, access to any voice communications between the helicopter crews and U.S. ground forces and access to reports from the unit involved in the incident, in particular a log of any weapons taken from the scene.

July 16th, 2007Counterpunch reports that "The US military says US and Iraqi forces engaged "a hostile force" and, after coming under fire, called for air support that killed nine insurgents and two civilians. The police and witnesses tell a different story. A preliminary police report from al-Rashad police station said Mr Noor-Eldeen and Mr Chmagh were killed along with nine others by a "random American bombardment." One witness, Karim Shindakh, said: "The aircraft began striking randomly and people were wounded. A Kia [mini-van] arrived to take them away. They hit the Kia and killed ... the two journalists."


The internal investigation on these soldiers may be tough, but the military itself is blatantly covering its ass. They don't want to admit how easily mistakes like this can happen, rather than telling the truth and looking for solutions. I find that unacceptably lazy and downright disgusting, especially when it costs innocent lives, and likely will again.
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