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American Soldiers Kill Unarmed Reuters Reporters in Iraq (Video)

A disturbing video which seems to show American soldiers shooting unarmed civilians just for fun is making the rounds.

CSM’s Dan Murphy has the backstory:

A video released on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks, a small nonprofit dedicated to publishing classified information from the US and other governments, appears to show the killing of two Iraqi journalists with Reuters and about nine other Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb in 2007 that is sharply at odds of the official US account of the incident.

WikiLeaks said the video was from the camera gun of one of two Apache attack helicopters that participated in the incident. The group said the video, with an audio feed between the helicopter’s crew and other US forces, was provided by “military whistleblowers” but didn’t elaborate further.

“WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives,” wrote the group, which has a yearly budget of about $600,000 and is funded by human rights campaigners, investigative journalists, technologists and the general public, according to its website. “We have analyzed the information about this incident from a variety of source material. We have spoken to witnesses and journalists directly involved in the incident.”

The group, which does not list the names of anyone involved with the project, didn’t elaborate further on its sources. Reuters did not confirm if its two employees are among the dead show in the video, saying it needs to investigate further.

“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,” said David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters news, in a short statement. “The video released today via Wikileaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result.

I spent more than four years reporting from Baghdad for the Monitor, including a number of tours embedded with US forces, during the war. While not an expert video analyst, I would say the video looks much like the neighborhood where the incident took place and — together with other details — make it likely the footage is authentic.

FP’s Josh Keating reports that,

A U.S. military official has confirmed the authenticity of the video. The Defense Department says the pilots were unaware of the presence of journalists and thought they were under threat from insurgents.  “We regret the loss of innocent life, but this incident was promptly investigated and there was never any attempt to cover up any aspect of this engagement,” said CentCom spokesman Shawn Kemp.

WikiLeaks has dubbed this “Collateral Murder” and launched a website with that name. They describe the incident as “the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff.”

ASP’s Bernald Finel calls it “Cold Blooded Murder.”

Sickening.  A camera passes for an RPG.  One armed man condemns a dozen others to death.  It would be one thing if they had been engaging U.S. forces at the time.  But no, they were just milling about, paying no attention to their surroundings.  That was not a hostile force either pre- or post-hostilities.  We killed those men in cold blood, and then shot at some poor soul who stopped to try to pick up a wounded man.

This  is the price of empire.

Salon‘s Glenn Greenwald calls it “slaughter” and juxtaposes it with recent reports of the military leadership trying to crack down on WikiLeaks.

Those two stories came together perfectly when WikiLeaks today released a video of the U.S. military, from an Apache helicopter, slaughtering civilians in Iraq in 2007 — including a Reuters photojournalist and his driver — and then killing and wounding several Iraqis who, minutes later, showed up at the scene to carry away the dead and wounded (including two of their children).  The video (posted below) is truly gruesome and difficult even for the most hardened person to watch, but it should be viewed by everyone with responsibility for what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan (i.e., every American citizen). Reuters has been attempting for two years to obtain this video through a FOIA request, but has been met with stonewalling by the U.S. military.  As Dan Froomkin documents, the videotape demonstrates that military officials made outright false statements about what happened here and were clearly engaged in a cover-up:  exactly as is true for the Afghanistan incident I wrote about earlier today, which should be read in conjunction with this post.

Ink Spots contributor MK takes a more cautious view.

The group that was targeted in the first instance included two people that appear to be armed, but it also includes two Reuters reporters carrying cameras that the pilots mistakenly identify as weapons. In fact, when one of the reporters crouches down and pokes his camera around a corner, the pilots report seeing an RPG. Partially mistaken or not, the Apaches opened fire on a group that did in fact include armed men. As tragic as the reporters’ deaths are, this seems to me part of the risk assumed by journalists who embed (however informally or momentarily) with combatants on either side. Notably, this seems to be Reuters’ position as well, who characterized it as a tragedy, rather than murder as Wikileaks alleges.

A couple of issues do seem to bear consideration. First, these pilots seem awfully eager to engage, and one has to wonder if that eagerness led them to mis-identify the cameras as RPGs. I could be wrong (and I’d welcome correction), but I’d imagine that the pilots may have felt a greater urgency to engage if they believed they were in the threat envelope of RPGs. Eagerness by pilots to engage has led to tragic mistakes elsewhere, and therefore might constitute a problem unto itself.

Nonetheless, there were two guys with weapons there, so it seems reasonable to have engaged. However, I am genuinely at a loss to understand the rationale for firing on the people who arrive in a van following the attack to help the wounded. None were armed. They weren’t spotters for other combatants. Their only actions were picking up one of the wounded reporters and moving him towards the van. Am I missing something here? What would the justification have been to engage? I’m not leaping to judgment, but on the face of it this seems outside the line.

Whatever the reality was, whatever events led up to this incident (note that 38 minutes of video were released, of which Wikileaks posted 17), this is an info ops failure. The pilots come across as awfully cavalier, particularly when told there were small children in the van they demolished with 30mm fire. We may be missing a lot of context here, but revelling in the carnage when they weren’t under threat seems likely to make that context irrelevant for a lot of people.

Similarly, FP’s David Kenner — who says the video is “utterly sickening” — thinks we should withhold judgment.

I have no way of verifying that Wikileaks’ narrative here — that we’re witnessing the unprovoked murder of Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen — is accurate. All I see is a number of men cut down by an Apache gunship; the context  appears to be unverifiable.

Wired sees this story as evidence of “how a website dedicated to anonymous leaks has become a venue for a more traditional model of investigative reporting.” I’m not so sure. The benefit of traditional reporting is that people are eventually forced to go on record: Individuals lend their names and reputations to a specific set of facts. That doesn’t appear to be happening here. Wikileaks promises that it “goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives,” but it doesn’t quote any sources that can lend credence to its version of events.

There is no doubt that this is a truly horrifying video to watch. But what it appears to be now, to my eyes, is an important lead to a story, rather than the final product.

That strikes me as exactly right.   There have been enough incidents over the years of Americans seemingly too eager to kill to make the WikiLeaks narrative plausible.  And this helicopter crew is easy to dislike, what with their cavalier regard for the lives of the people the kill. Further, as Greenwald and others remind us, there have been enough lies and coverups from the military brass over the last few years.

At the same time, we’re seeing only part of the story here and it’s being told be people with a rather clear agenda.  And, frankly, it’s pretty easy to dislike the WikiLeaks narrator, too.

In any case, I agree with Matt Yglesias that this “ought to be getting more journalistic attention than the RNC’s stripper tab.”  One suspects it will.

UPDATEBernard Finel has a follow-up:

In the final analysis, you have eight men, only two of whom appear to be armed. They are not engaging coalition forces at the time. There is no compelling military necessity to engage the entire group at that moment. We are the occupying power in Iraq. It is our affirmative duty to protect civilian lives under that circumstance. The presence of armed men, in a mixed group of people some of whom appear to be non-combatants (because they are clearly unarmed), does not justify killing them all. Attacking unarmed men who are helping a wounded man is also simply not justifiable. The man crawling on the ground is clearly no threat to coalition forces. He’s unarmed and crawling to his death. A van pulls up and unarmed men exit to help him, and we engage it?

Given the presence of unarmed men, there ought to have been an assessment of proportionality. Can we justify killing six unarmed men in order to strike at the one or two who are armed? The answer to that is, maybe (probably yes), but only if they are actively engaging coalition force. Not if they are just milling about. There was no military necessity here to over-ride the presumption of non-combatant immunity.

Sorry, but this was an unlawful killing. The Apache crew did not appear to be under fire. The men they attacked where not engaging anyone. This was not close air support. This was murder.

Unless the video was doctored, this is not actually a particularly hard case. Which is not to say that I can’t empathize with the Apache crew or the difficulties of operating at that kind of environment. But empathy is one thing, excusing the inexcusable in another.

I think that’s right.  The second wave of shootings is  simply a war crime absent some doctoring of the video and the first wave is, at best, questionable.  But, as we’ve learned from the James O’Keefe ACORN videos flap, it’s not particularly hard for people with an agenda to edit videotape in a way that makes bad behavior seem much worse than it is.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    I see this clip. What I don’t see is what happened before this clip begins. Maybe nothing; maybe an entirely different narrative development.

    One doesn’t have to play around with PhotoShop to change the story a picture tells. One can also take it out of context through editing.

    I’m not saying that this is what was done here. I’m not saying, either, that it wasn’t. I am saying that this clip is insufficient to reach a conclusion about whether the helicopter crew behaved appropriately nor not.

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  2. Raoul says:

    I was curious what you would write- you did not disappoint. Usually former soldiers care more about the rules of engagement than anyone else. I do agree that we need more data- the “RPG” does not appear like one but who knows- I cannot watch the video again. You and Yglesias are correct- where is the media and why the coverup? This story and others (the bullet removing episode, the massacre of over 100, the chiefs comments about killings at check points) point to an absolute disaster. The disgrace is the U.S. reaction- starting with the Apache gunners.

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  3. Benedict says:

    Interesting that Reuters and its terrorist associates were the same folks who brought us the Haditha “atrocity” (see here, for a start), which, of course, ultimately proved to be nothing except left-wing, anti-American, anti-military propaganda, notwithstanding John Murtha’s best efforts. It also seems worth noting that Reuters was the first “news” agency to eliminate the word terrorist from its stories.

    Seems to me that the fool me once rule should apply here, and that this video be assumed to be doctored and edited until proven otherwise.

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  4. Highlander says:

    The lessons here are:

    One: All nations should be damn careful about unleashing the dogs of war.

    Two: When in a hot urban war zone with an an Apache Helicopter Killing Machine overhead; either stay out of sight,and or be damn careful of what you have in your hands, and how it might appear from the air.

    Three: It’s not real smart to take your children into a hot kill zone, even if your intentions are pure.

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  5. Raoul says:

    Well Benedict- the Pentagon could say the video is a fake.

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  6. Ben says:

    You guys don’t have to worry any longer whether this was cleverly edited or not. Wikileaks published the full raw 39 minute video as well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is9sxRfU-ik

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  7. jmc says:

    Watched the video and was not impressed by the hysterical captioning and text insets which pretty much invalidated it for me. Looked like fairly classic agitprop.

    From the audio track it sounded like one small part of an ongoing fire-fight on the ground. People on ground were shooting at helicopters etc and people on ground were actively engaged in combat.

    It looks like a video from just one of the participants in one small part of an ongoing action taken out of context. But the full effects of a gunship on people on the ground was pretty terrifying.

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  8. Brian says:

    I tend to think that the 1st shootings were hasty yet possibly understandable, given the fact the shooters were in a war zone, thought they saw weapons, thought said weapons were aimed at them.

    The shooting of the injured photographer as he crawls away is much more questionable; however I say this from safety and being able to see no weapon he was supposedly crawling to. I can see at heat of the moment firing off, after all there were supposedly weapons before so he COULD be crawling to get one…

    The van is much, much more difficult to understand. That’s the one that makes me think war crimes, altho IIRC the Army has already said both shooting were clearly following the rules of war. (and in addition, the copter had received permission to shoot both times, albeit with information we now know to be false.)

    As pointed out on Balloon Juice, the pilot and gunner both knew they were being recorded. This could mean their intentions were pure, it could mean they didn’t care, whatever. Just something else to factor in.

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  9. A disturbing video which seems to show American soldiers shooting unarmed civilians just for fun is making the rounds.

    Just for fun? Really?

    The fog of war is perhaps the most horrible and depressing attribute of war. More information is needed before definitive statemtents can be made about this incident, but the Rorschach-like reactions to the carefully assembled video are unmistakable.

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  10. steve says:

    We need to see the whole film. We need to know the ROE for that time. There were a lot of civilian contractors carrying weapons. Did the ROE allow for shooting anyone carrying a weapon? Doubtful. The shooting of the unarmed guys attempting to help the wounded would take a pretty broad ROE.

    Highlander-Much of Baghdad at that time was a hot zone. People lived there, it’s not like they had to travel to get to a hot zone, they were living in one. You seem to suggest that virtually anyone one who lived in certain parts of Baghdad was a target.

    Steve

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  11. Crust says:

    Seems to me that the fool me once rule should apply here…

    We could certainly apply that doctrine to the Pentagon, see e.g. Pat Tillman, Jessica Lynch, the recent coverup in Afghanistan, etc., etc. WikiLeaks on the other hand AFAIK hasn’t had any bogus stories in its history (though admittedly it’s only been around for a couple of years).

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  12. mattt says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, James. I made some hasty comments on this elsewhere yesterday; after reflecting on it and seeing the video again…

    There is a real RPG visible around 3:45 in the short video. The pilots don’t seem to see the real one, but later mistake a camera for an RPG. As sickening and tragic as these events are, I think the presence of the RPG may legitimate the first shoot. Uzis and AKs might be carried by bodyguards or for home defense, but what use is an RPG except vs. American armor?

    Accepting the claim that there are US ground forces nearby and there had been fire exchanged recently in the area – and the readiness of the controller to authorize firing on a group of armed men in the open supports the claim that this was at least a very warm area – the photographer peeking around the corner does look like a threat. Sitting at my desk watching the video 3 years after the fact, I can tell it’s a camera. Trying to put myself in the pilots’ place, responsible for the safety of troops on the ground….I’d probably have shot, too.

    The shoot of the van, on the other hand, is clearly criminal. The pilots’ chatter makes clear they realized they’re looking at a wounded, unarmed man, but they misrepresent what they’re seeing to their controller – using the buzzwords “picking up bodies and weapons” which they probably knew would win them permission to fire. There’s no evidence on the video of the people in the van making any moves toward weapons, or doing anything but attempting to help the wounded man.

    Wikileaks has posted at their site what they claim to be the ROE for this period; it expressly forbids firing even at known insurgents once they have been incapacitated. Not that anyone should really need to know the ROE to come to a conclusion on the van shoot.

    It’s unfortunate that Wikileaks chose to wrap the video in generic anti-war framing and overdramatism. It’s more powerful with the melodrama stripped away.

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  13. Flit says:

    @James Joyner -

    I’m shocked that as ex-military you are that naive about the ROE (which wikileaks also helpfully leaked, and are certainly more restrictive than Gulf War I, even in 2007).

    (Note: I have been to the area where this took place as a noncombatant.)

    “In the final analysis, you have eight men, only two of whom appear to be armed. They are not engaging coalition forces at the time. There is no compelling military necessity to engage the entire group at that moment.”

    First, you honestly believe the US military lets groups of armed men in Baghdad 2007 gather in the street, in the vicinity of a previous engagement and an approaching unit? (3:05 “I see your element, has 4 humvees”) What version of war do people think the US has been fighting for the past 7 years?

    1. It’s a no-no to walk around with weapons in New Baghdad in 2007, period. Everyone is aware of this. The only Iraqis who may do so are IP, NP or IA. Civilian Iraqis may keep one weapon in their home for self-defense.

    2. You are doubly not allowed to walk around with weapons in the area where an engagement has recently taken place.

    3. Not just two of them appear to be armed, five of them appear to be armed; unfortunately 3 have cameras that look like weapons, and one of those is a long tube resembling an RPG launcher w/o a loaded warhead. All are adult males near an engagement. The streets are clear, because everyone has scattered. FYI, already enough authorization to kill. “Have 5-6 individuals with AK-47s, request permission to engage” @ 2:13

    4. One of them pokes his head around the corner, signalling a shot. The urgency in the gunner’s voice is fairly clear when this happens.

    “The second wave of shootings is simply a war crime”

    This is more arguable, but here’s the rationale: if you read the ROE, anyone identified as being a hostile force (after action or “status”) who is not incapacitated, can be fair game.

    Once the men in the first wave are PID’ed by the fact that they have weapons (and the gunner obviously believes the man with the RPG/camera poking around the corner is readying to shoot), they are “hostile.” When the van shows up, it has no markings. There is nothing identifying the occupants as an ambulance, and only adult males are identifiable.

    The (arguable) standard under (my interpretation of) the leaked ROE is that they have hostile “status,” are evacuating insurgents and, importantly, their weapons from the battlefield. (dialogue @ 7:46) If you go near a weapon or aid enemy ROE seems to grant clearance to shoot. (It does not look like they picked up a weapon, though the van blocks the man on the other side of the truck for a time)

    Thus, you may quite rationally disagree with the ROE or the interpretation of the ROE in this case. But to call it a “war crime” committed by the gunner and his immediate chain of command is stretching it, I believe. Especially considering they know they’re recorded, and the gunner asks for permission – and provides the rationale I just outlined to get it, in a self-evident manner – at every step.

    I will be interested to hear the interpretation of the burst on the vehicle from other ground commanders or respected military analysts. But the first burst is legit, absolutely no question.

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  14. Crust says:

    Insightful comment, mattt.

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  15. LaurenceB says:

    Yes, mattt has a pretty good perspective on this, I think.

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  16. Tlaloc says:

    “At the same time, we’re seeing only part of the story here and it’s being told be people with a rather clear agenda.”

    The military had ample opportunity to tell their side of the story and chose instead to lie and stonewall. I have no sympathy for them then that they have no voice in how the story plays out.

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  17. [...] James Joyner [...]

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  18. the Q says:

    So when the children of the dead samaritan grow up and fly airplanes into buildings, I suppose the classic conservative response will be to blame liberals.

    The most frightening aspect of this which no one mentions is how many other thousand incidents like this have occurred over the past 7 years never to be reported…this is no isolated event.

    Rumsfeld’s memo rhetorically asking whether we are creating more terrorists than we are killing is turning out to be morbidly accurate.

    I think this war has stuck a dagger into the heart of our great country and when the economic, moral and political decline of America is chronicled, our offspring (much like the sons and daughters of Nazis) will wonder what the f*ck were we thinking.

    Take 30 seconds and read James Madison’s amazingly prescient quote, (especially the parts I’ve highlighted)then ask yourself why Cheney isn’t being executed right now for war crimes … ‘of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. . . . [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and . . . a degeneracy of manners and of morals. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. . .

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  19. john personna says:

    I will wait for this one to settle out.

    I think it’s fair to make the general comment though, that one problem with going to war is that wars are always morally corrosive. Compassions wilt, people and societies become inured. It is the way of the world.

    It’s also one reason why we should set a high bar for “is this next war right?” We can’t calculate morality on the hope that everything will go right. The decision should bear the weight that some things always go wrong.

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  20. Michael Reynolds says:

    Q:

    The sons and daughters of Germans do indeed wonder what the f*ck their grandparents were doing. With all the reason in the world.

    But there’s a flip side to that argument. The grandchildren of the Greatest Generation in the US, the UK, France and other countries, wonder how the f*ck their elders stood by and did nothing about the trains rolling toward Dachau.

    We have fought some bad wars and some stupid wars. We’ve also stood by doing nothing while the Nazis rounded up Jews, while Stalin massacred his own people and minorities, while Mao and Pol Pot and dozens of other monsters rampaged.

    It’s not as easy as condemning all war everywhere. When you have the power to stop a madman I believe you have at least some moral responsibility to attempt to do so. It’s always a moral crapshoot. But whether you jump in or stay out you cannot avoid a degree of responsibility for what follows.

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  21. Wayne says:

    War is hell. If you hanging out in a war zone, active combat area or hanging out with terrorist and\or insurgents, you better be damn careful.

    This strikes me as another liberal media attempt to smear the military. Also military members are very restricted on what they can tell the media by politicians. So don’t give me the “why aren’t they defending themselves”.

    If you think you can do better, go over and do it.

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  22. Michael Reynolds says:

    Wayne:

    This strikes me as another liberal media attempt to smear the military.

    Really? Because it strikes me as another right-wing moron making claims he can’t back up. Show me where the “liberal media” has smeared the military. The media has been nothing but laudatory toward the military. Reporting things you don’t happen to like does not constitute a smear.

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  23. Wayne says:

    One more thing, if you identify the enemy, you don’t wait for them to pull out weapons or fire on you before you kill them. If they run you kill them. If they surrender, you take them captive. No one on that video attempted to surrender and yes you can surrender to a helicopter. It has happen many times before.

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  24. Wayne says:

    Michael
    The MSM smears the military on consistent bases. They take one negative out of thousands of positives and blow it way out of proportion and hammer at it for all they can get out of it. They will search through a thousand soldiers to find that one soldier who has something negative to say. They give away secrets that hurt our efforts. Saying a nice thing about a person\groups before you tear into them with accusations and lies is not being laudatory toward a group.

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  25. mattt says:

    @Wayne:

    If the helicopter had fired a warning shot near the van maybe they would have surrendered. There’s no sign that anybody from the van took any notice of the helicopter. My guess is they thought they’d pulled up on the scene of an IED explosion.

    If the ROE posted by Wikileaks is legitimate, a warning shot would seem to have been required.

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  26. the Q says:

    Mr. Reynolds,

    I agree about some wars being necessary if we are attacked and must defend ourselves.

    But I do not think Iraq hardly qualifies as such.

    And Wayne, when people in the future wonder how incredibly idiotic our culture had become, your remarks will serve as an outstanding example.

    With all due respect sir, of course.

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  27. Michael Reynolds says:

    Wayne:

    If it’s a constant problem then you can no doubt cite many examples.

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  28. Michael Reynolds says:

    Q:

    Only in self-defense? How do you define that? If an avowedly hostile nation was — theoretically — assembling nuclear weapons and had stated that they intended to attack us as soon as they were done, would that qualify as self-defense or would we need to wait until we were hit.

    I’m not putting this forward in the context of Iraq — obviously no such scenario existed there — just to discover your thinking.

    And what about the case of a Darfur or Killing Field or Auschwitz that might be prevented by intervention?

    Why would it be morally acceptable to defend against an invasion of some distant bit of US territory, say, Alaska, even at the risk of civilian deaths, but not be moral to risk civilian deaths for the purpose of saving some far larger number of innocent civilians?

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  29. Flit says:

    mattt (et al) –

    Let me say up front that you’re amazingly far off the mark with some of your casual, instinctive interpretations. Surprisingly, the post above is not much better.

    “If the ROE posted by Wikileaks is legitimate, a warning shot would seem to have been required.”

    A warning shot that you are reading about is to determine vehicles of unknown intent perceived as a potential threat. The individuals in the vid believe they have already PID’ed the occupants of the vehicle as terrorists because they are assisting combatants in the middle of an engagement.

    Thought experiment: in what war has the United States allowed enemy to cart off their injured and/or material from the middle of an engagement unmolested? There is no red crescent on that vehicle.

    In addition, the vehicle was spotted making laps around the block at beginning of video. You assume that it’s driven by a good samaritan, and it very well may have been. But if you think it was 100% not an inusrgent because he drove through a battlespace with kids, that is presumptuous, to put it kindly. (not saying he was an insurgent, just commenting on the concept of being sure)

    In addition: you want him to fire a “warning shot” with bursts from a 30 mm canon. Didn’t you just see the spread on that thing?

    Similarly, in your previous comment you display some ignorant interpretation of ROE:

    “As sickening and tragic as these events are, I think the presence of the RPG may legitimate the first shoot. Uzis and AKs might be carried by bodyguards or for home defense, but what use is an RPG except vs. American armor?”

    It doesn’t matter if it’s an RPG, an AK or a Springfield rifle minted in 1903. Weapons = not allowed to have more than one, outside of the home. Have outside of the home in a group after ground troops call for air support after taking shots = cleared to fire.

    Shockingly, and gratifyingly, one of the diarists at Firedoglake (!) has penned the best summary of this situation; better than any of the milblogs:

    http://seminal.firedoglake.com/diary/39215

    Read it. Absorb it. You’re theorizing about stuff based on personal instinct and an imprecise reading of the ROE, which has imprecise guidance in this instance in any event.

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  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    I have to go with Flit. He (and the Firedog Lake writer) have it right in my opinion.

    It’s horrible and shocking to see this kind of thing. But while it’s horrible and shocking I don’t think it’s negligent or criminal on the part of our soldiers.

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  31. Dave Schuler says:

    I think the incidents portrayed in the video (as well as any possible cover-up of the incidents) should be thoroughly investigated and, if sufficient grounds are found, a case against the perpetrators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. I’m afraid saying anything beyond that is reacting to inadequate information.

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  32. anjin-san says:

    War is hell.

    No doubt about that. And Bush chose to make war against a country that did not threaten us, based on a false premise. The people of Iraq got to live through the hell. Cheney’s friends made billions.

    It has indeed been a long time since the “greatest generation”.

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  33. One more thing, if you identify the enemy, you don’t wait for them to pull out weapons or fire on you before you kill them.

    Since, lacking uniforms or otherwise threatening behavior, there was nothing to identify these people as enemies, isn’t this begging the question?

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  34. steve says:

    From Starbuck, an Army aviator who writes for Small Wars.

    http://wingsoveriraq.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-coin-for-aviators-is-so-important.html

    Steve

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  35. anjin-san says:

    One more thing, if you identify the enemy, you don’t wait for them to pull out weapons or fire on you before you kill them.

    The right wing armchair warrior speaketh…

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  36. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Anjin, you jerk, who is President and commander in chief now. It is not Bush. Guess you only got one note. You must have admired Saddam Hussein.

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  37. anjin-san says:

    who is President and commander in chief now. It is not Bush.

    True, but Bush was President in 2007, and he did start this needless war. Obviously you are a commie.

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  38. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by drjjoyner: WikiLeaks massacre story: Horrifying but caution needed. http://bit.ly/daG1lc

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  39. Michael Reynolds says:

    Anjin-San:

    All you’ve proved is that Obama is capable of time travel. He went back in time and caused the Iraq war, just like he traveled back in time to cause the housing bubble, the financial meltdown, the ballooning deficit. . .

    I mean, what’s your theory, smart guy? That Republicans bent the country over and %$#@! it? And then went off on a huge rage-a-thon at the guy who came in to clean up their mess? Right, like that makes sense.

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  40. Sanji says:

    Most of the guys here are hopeless.

    The answer for all the argue is simple: “US”.

    If this was done by non US soldiers, I’m afraid most of you will happy to spend paragraphs to “Highlight & Educate” those old topics such as “human right”, “freedom”, “justice” and etc..

    US and its people contributed a lot to the world and bring human a better life indeed. But before you comment, do not forget that there is a reason for every happening.

    Why there are innocents killed? Why there is US army in others’ homeland? Why there is war? Why there was 911? Why there is hate?

    Can’t get out an answer? I suggest you stand at the top of Sears tower or Empire state building, check out the “spectacular night views of the cities”. Or check out the world energy consumption satellite image. Then maybe you will get some ideas.

    It’s not wrong to pursue happiness for the country and the people. But it’s disgusting that some jerk and bitch still want to play the role of Generous God.

    What if the one got killed is your husband? Brother? Father? Friend? Don’t let the selfish and prejudice kill your kindness.

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  41. Dave Schuler says:

    As I noted above I can’t attack or defend what’s going on in the video above because I don’t know what’s going on in the video above. I think the incidents portrayed should be investigated and, if sufficient cause is found, the actions should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

    However, I think we should reflect on Sanji’s comment above. Sanji is post, presumably, from Singapore and in a rather succinct comment has revealed quite a bit, much of which I believe is misinformation but widely believed misinformation. At the very least I think he’s confusing causes with effects.

    Doesn’t this, in particular:

    Why there are innocents killed? Why there is US army in others’ homeland? Why there is war? Why there was 911? Why there is hate?

    Can’t get out an answer? I suggest you stand at the top of Sears tower or Empire state building, check out the “spectacular night views of the cities”. Or check out the world energy consumption satellite image. Then maybe you will get some ideas.

    call for some, hopefully non-agonistic, response?

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  42. Ole Sarge says:

    When you have a recognized military force with uniforms, ranks and rules of engagement in deadly armed combat against those that wear no uniforms, have no rank structure, follow no rules and are as likely to be smiling at you , joking and serving you tea, then 30 minutes later trying to sent you to “hell” well gee-whiz guys.

    I’m surprised that they at first DID NOT fire. A snip of video out of context means “nothing.”

    Yea, I was one that did not want us going in because we did not have the overwhelming backing of the “folks at home” or in the media. Without that, 5th columns exist everywhere from the chambers of Congress to the nightly news.

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  43. mattt says:

    The analysis that I consider must-read is here.
    It’s at kos, but written by a veteran with in-theater experience if that means anything.

    As for Sanjin’s questions…
    Innocents are killed in war. It’s inevitable. I believe American troops overall make a much greater effort to prevent civilian casualties than almost any other force in history. Not just in the last decade, but as part of our culture going back at least to WWII when our 8th Air Force absorbed horrible casualties doing daylight bombing over Europe, partly at least to avoid inflicting indiscriminate civilian casualties.

    The fact we seek to reduce innocent suffering in war doesn’t change the fact that the Iraq war was illegitimate from the beginning, and a lot of the hate toward the US that has resulted and motivated our enemies should be understood in that context.

    Except for a few loud dead-enders, we as a nation have realized it was a mistake. A couple of days ago even a Republican congressmen was quoted as saying “everybody in Congress” would agree it was a mistake. And for years now our mission has been to bring stability and peace to Iraq.

    We can’t bring back the dead. Our troops on the ground didn’t make the decision to invade, and while the rage of war victims is understandable our troops don’t deserve to get blown up and shot for trying to bring stability and, in essence, clean up the mess that their former commander in chief created.

    It’s all a monumental tragedy, and the big lesson from this video and from the whole Iraq occupation should be of how foolish it was to wage a war of choice, and to do it the way we did – to voluntarily create this kind of COIN environment when there was no imminent threat to preempt.

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  44. mattt says:

    Since nobody’s called me names (yet), I’ll take a crack at “Why 9/11?”

    9/11 happened because a ruthless and probably sociopathic advocate of world domination by an oppressive form of Islam, named Osama bin Laden, exploited Arab resentment at US and western dominance to commit a horrible and indefensible crime, with the intent of fomenting further war that he fully recognized would lead to the slaughter of his own people. Drawing the US into a bloodbath in Afghanistan and elsewhere was one of his main goals.

    I think the US could be a better world citizen, before and after 9/11, and some of the resentment is justifiable. But 9/11 itself was no more justifiable than the actions of a psychopath who guns down students or co-workers because he feels he’s been bullied or disrespected.

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  45. Raoul says:

    Can someone confirm that the weapon seen at the 3:45 frame is a RPG as Mattt claims? I can’t tell. Did the GI’s recover an RPG when they got there?

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  46. Tyler520 says:

    at least 2 men were armed with AKs and strapped with grenades. For those who are unaware (which seems to be the case with everyone who froths at the mouth over this incident), it is illegal for civilians to carry automatic weapons in public (note that Reuters never claimed that local bodyguards were ever employed). Also, a Reuters camera was recovered – the photos show that the supposed “journalists” were taking covert photos of US Humvees and sharing them with the insurgents. The gunship footage clearly shows the armed men. At least one RPG was found at the side of one of the killed men, along with several RPG rounds. There are many photos taken minutes after the event took place; anyone can easily access them – whether or not one chooses to look for them will be a telling story about peoples’ character.

    Ironically, Wikileaks (who put out the propaganda) has an uncensored photo of one of the bodies with an RPG laying next to it, but they refuse to release it because it would completely discredit them and anyone who believes in this slanderous, traitorous propaganda.

    The case is closed – it has been investigated twice. Anyone who says otherwise at this juncture is a filthy liar or a willing idiot. What should truly bother people (but doesn’t seem to) is knowing that a supposedly respectable “news” agency embeds their people with terrorists and conducts surveillance for terrorists.

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  47. Tyler520 says:

    Photo taken at site of AK47 next to body:
    http://i820.photobucket.com/albums/zz124/Tyler520/blownupAK.jpg

    footage of armed insurgents:
    http://i820.photobucket.com/albums/zz124/Tyler520/343tb0j.gif

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  48. mattt says:

    @tyler:

    Thanks for the links. I and a lot of people agree with you that the initial shoot was at least defensible.

    What about the van? What about the ROE that forbade firing even on known insurgents once they were incapacitated? What about the pilots chattering to each other about the unarmed, wounded man, then telling their controller a tale about “picking up weapons and bodies” in order to get permission to shoot?

    What about the coverup? The official statement at the time was that US investigators had no idea how the children came to be hurt. That alone proves that the investigation was, to a degree still unknown, a whitewash.

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  49. Wayne says:

    From what was just reported on Fox News, they found three RPG launchers and multiple grenades. The people fit descriptions of those from a very recent engagement. People from the van were picking up weapons and vans surprising enough are use to haul weapons around to shot at our troops. Also the cameraman had classified US pictures he was sharing with the insurgents. Also this group supposedly breaking the story lift out pictures of the RPGs and such that would help clear the Soldiers of wrongdoing. They forgot to mention certain information as well. Guess what type of information they didn’t mention?

    Like I said another media smear job.

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  50. [...] American Soldiers Kill Unarmed Reuters Reporters in Iraq (Video) (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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