WikiLeaks has released today 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. I can’t begin to describe how I felt watching that video, listening to the nonchalant exchange between US soldiers over the radio while they indiscriminately mowed down over a dozen Iraqis; more than half of them were unarmed. Some were shot attempting to aid the wounded. Two of them were children sitting in a van. You can, and you should, watch as much as you possibly can of the video (disturbing content) before going on to read the rest of this post. You can also find the overview page of the Collateral Murder video here.
Have you watched the video? Now here’s the official U.S. army statement in 2007 as it was reported by the New York Times:
The American military said in a statement late Thursday that 11 people had been killed: nine insurgents and two civilians. According to the statement, American troops were conducting a raid when they were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing fight, the statement said, the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed.
“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.
Nice cover up, No? Weddady explains on twitter how this could happen: “NYT is only as good as their sources when reporting on unseen events. US military sources –> US military official line.” I wouldn’t expect the army to behave any differently; Armies protect their own no matter what. Disgusting, but not uncommon. Defendants of the soldier’s actions are saying that the Iraqis had guns and what appears to be RPGs. Jacob Appelbaum clears things out a bit saying “When I was on northern Iraq in 2005: I had a camera over my shoulder, and a guard with an AK-47. This is very common in Iraq.” I also have to add that RPGs used by the insurgents are anti-tank weapons and not a ground-to-air weapon. Trying to hit an Apache with these is similar to trying to kill a flying wasp with a slingshot. Suspecting the journalist’s camera to be an RPG which is quite an outrageous mistake to make and still does not hold as an excuse for the trigger-happy soldier operating that 30mm machine gun. Read more about how they’re actually used in Iraq here.