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Covering up a mass killing


Sergei

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ETA: Some of you are armchair quarterbacking...er...general-ing with little or no operational experience. War games and actual shoot-mutha-frackas-in-the-face war are two completely different things. Sometimes you have seconds to make a decision that is no-s#!t life or death, sometimes you make the wrong decision and the wrong people die. If any of you feel that you could have made a better decision, I invite you to try: CLICK ME [/rant]

War Games? Let's have a look.

Based on the radio chatter heard in the footage we see the Apache pilots:

1) Gun down a block of people with gleeful excitment;

2) Mock an injured man (the surviving journalist) who is crawling and likely bleeding to death. They are itching for him to pick up a weapon as he is apparently holding up their fun in his current state;

3) Plead with their superiors to unleash the same destruction on an as of yet, unidentified van (which they do);

4) Cackle as a Humvee runs over a corpse.

If one were unaware of the fact that this took place during actual combat operations, the behavior of the pilots could easily pass for that seen in typical pre-teen FPS gamers. Their verbal de-humanization and admiration of their handiwork suggests that to them, it may as well have been a gaming session.

You know what else is ironic? The US military's tool of choice for recruitment takes the form of..... wait for it..... a video game titled "America's Army". That doesn't bold well for an organization that wants to avoid blurring the reality of war for eager young minds, does it?

Having said that, I can agree that hesitation can cost the lives of your fellow soldiers.

The pilots had a judgement call to make as to whether the AK-47 and RPG wielding individuals presented an immediate threat to friendly ground units. This, of course, assumes the suspected insurgents were positively identified as hostile (which does not appear to be the case). The Reuters reporters knew the risks and unfortunately for them, the lost their lives doing what few have dared to do - trying to give the rest of us a glimpse of the conflict from a vantage point not encumbered by military censoring.

In any case, trigger-happy cowboys such as those heard in the footage would be best served remaining in the military as a controlled instrument of war; segregated from the rest of civilized society in the absense of a straitjacket. We have enough psychopaths running around as it is.

The cover-up attempts by the brass for what is clearly a disastrous blunder only serves to signify to the rest of the world that accountability in the US military remains as elusive as ever.

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Its the cover-up that rankles. Saying they had made a mistake and sorting it early - one way or the other - would have solved [partially or completely] whther they were out of control or deluded for a moment.

Laughing as vehicles drive over corpses seems ghoulish and one wonders what a huge bonus to US prestige might have accrued if they had speeedily been brought to book.

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By Boeman

1) Gun down a block of people with gleeful excitment

2) Mock an injured man (the surviving journalist) who is crawling and likely bleeding to death. They are itching for him to pick up a weapon as he is apparently holding up their fun in his current state;

I am willing to let some of that slide due to human nature. But they must know they are being recorded. Apparently they have no sense of decency and professionalism if they feel they can talk what they like while being recorded.

3) Plead with their superiors to unleash the same destruction on an as of yet, unidentified van (which they do);

That did make them sound like my 6-year olds pleading to get some more candy. "Can we ? Please, pleasepleasepleasepleasepleasepleaseplease."

Most distasteful. What kind of radio discipline and protocol are they enforcing in the US Army anyways ?

Their verbal de-humanization and admiration of their handiwork suggests that to them, it may as well have been a gaming session.

Which in a sense it was. They monitor the events through a TV-screen circling around the scene at a distance (a considerable distance at that given the gap between the sound of the gun firing and the rounds hitting).

Having said that, I can agree that hesitation can cost the lives of your fellow soldiers.

True. However, while prudence is the better part of valour these pilots had a long time to assess the situation.

The pilots had a judgement call to make as to whether the AK-47 and RPG wielding individuals presented an immediate threat to friendly ground units. This, of course, assumes the suspected insurgents were positively identified as hostile (which does not appear to be the case).

I must guestion the training of these pilots if they think an RPG tube looks like a boombox. And the sequence did not show any AK's or anything remotely resembling them. AFAIK insurgent cameramen use compact portable cameras, not the professional huge cameras as seen on the film.

The Reuters reporters knew the risks and unfortunately for them, the lost their lives doing what few have dared to do - trying to give the rest of us a glimpse of the conflict from a vantage point not encumbered by military censoring.

That intention backfired on all involved. Literally.

The cover-up attempts by the brass for what is clearly a disastrous blunder only serves to signify to the rest of the world that accountability in the US military remains as elusive as ever.

Agreed. The brass should back up the troops up to a point. And tragic mistakes are inevitable. But in this case the point was exceeded.

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But in this case the point was exceeded.

And one would infer in many, many, many other cases. This one only came to light after 2 years of campaigning by a huge media organisation. Given the attitudes of all involved in the transcript, it was just another day at the office.

It's all a depressing example of why the occupation went the way it did.

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By dieseltaylor

Laughing as vehicles drive over corpses seems ghoulish and one wonders what a huge bonus to US prestige might have accrued if they had speeedily been brought to book.

The laughter does not bother me as such. It is most distasteful but after all the crew had just killed 8 people who most likely knew not they were being monitored (and targeted). I see it as an attempt to keep sane in the presense of their murderous act. Dehumanizing the opponent is part of the game (no pun inteded).

The way they later on rationalized the children being casualties shows they were starting to realize they had possibly just committed an attrocity.

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Reports embed with insurgents carrying AK-47s and at least 1 RPG in an area that has been a hotbed of activity.

Apache gunships orbit the area in preparation for a convoy to transit the area.

Insurgents and reporters take cover behind a building, while the RPG gunner peaks around the corner looking in the direction from which the convoy will approach.

The Apache gunners remove the threat.

Later an unmarked van pulls up and instead of trying to administer first aid they grab the injured man with no obvious concern for causing further damage and throw him in the van. The gunships fire on the van.

Yes running over a body is bad, some of the chatter may not be the most professional, but I fail to see how any of this is murder. Enemy combatants in a war zone who appeared to be planning to ambush a convoy were killed before they could launch their attack. 2 journalists who appeared to be known and friendly with the insurgents were also killed. Later more possible insurgents or civillians were killed and 2 children they brought into an active combat area were injured. Do not try to tell me they did not know that the area was hot, if they did not, they why the hurry, why not administer first aid on scene. From the transcripts if they had not tried to remove the injured man the ship would not have fired.

Is it terrible to watch - Yes. Are the pilots guilty of any crime - No.

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Wow - I will have to remember that first aid from me, an untrained person, is better than moving the injured to a hospital.

However regardless of that is there ANY benefit to the Army in covering up mistakes. Surely the being up-front - yes it was an error , no it was justified would have cleared the air. And been a learning tool for Army and the Press.

I have seen it now:

BTW no one seems to mention the recovered arms and RPG - which given the positive ID should have been still around.

The crouching camerman is the best evidence the US has but anyone who has used a camers crouches , and if with a telephoto braces themselves against a solid object. I any event I think anyone would be cautious sticking your head around a corner in trigger happy country.

I am curious how far away the Apache is - anyone any idea.

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Wow - I will have to remember that first aid from me, an untrained person, is better than moving the injured to a hospital.

Sorry, but my first thought when seeing a gravely wounded individual is not to grab them without concern for complicating their injuries and throwing them in a van. There was no hesitation, no looking to asses the situation, no attempt to to stop blood loss. Hell even my 6 year old cub scout knows to wrap a makeshift bandage around a wound before transporting.

To me their haste and total lack of apparent concern for the well being of the injured man implies that they were not merely good Samaritans, but had an agenda of some sort.

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I can understand that approach but if I believed the only hope was a hospital then I would act as fast as possible. I am not qualified to decide what is dangerous or not and taking the guess that in the ride to the hospital there may be a chance for the passengers to stem the highly probable bleeding wounds then I get the best of both worlds.

To take the view that they were baddies is a presumption of guilt, and in any event wounded fighters might be worth interrogating and retrieving from whereever they are taken to!

As a baddie I would remove evidence and given they appeared not interested in retreiving removing the "smoking guns" I guess I would have gone with tracking the injured to hospital or a enemy base. Either way it seems I would end up with a guy to interrogate at the hospital or an enemy hideout.

Now of course I am smart-arse after the event and depending how I was trained and peer pressure I may have done as the crew did. My point is that this was a learning incident and burying it did no good whatsoever.

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Sorry, but my first thought when seeing a gravely wounded individual is not to grab them without concern for complicating their injuries and throwing them in a van. There was no hesitation, no looking to asses the situation, no attempt to to stop blood loss. Hell even my 6 year old cub scout knows to wrap a makeshift bandage around a wound before transporting.

To me their haste and total lack of apparent concern for the well being of the injured man implies that they were not merely good Samaritans, but had an agenda of some sort.

This past decade I've seen too many news items of the aftermath of a bomb blast where people are being piled, often rather roughly, into whatever transport is available that I find it laughable to read a claim that this is now terrorist behaviour.

Then you magic all this Terrorist with AKs and RPGs. Have you even seen the footage? Point out these Enemy Combatants for me, please. Most of the people have clearly empty hands, for goodness sake.

As for it being an "active combat area". Uhm, no it's not. It's their neighbourhood they are walking around in, in apparent safety until the helo decides to put an oar in.

The second group, how long do you think they should have waited since the last shots before they'd help out?

Your defence of this incident is unfathomable to me. Cock ups don't come much more evident then this.

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That was horrible.

The Gunships were wrong for what they did and authorizing them to engage did not help the situation either.

In my view, that is the very reason why you don't talk all that smack on the battle field with blood lust,it clouds the judgment and forces errors because all they want to do is pull the trigger so badly while acting anxiously like someone that has to go to the bathroom in a hurry.Look how it can bite you in the ass when exposed and everyone else hears you, like family and friends and the world around us.Not good for those pilots and not a very honorable act.

I'm sure it was not their intention at all to go out and kill the civilians, but I'm very sure that they were eager to find targets and engage.They are going to have to live with what happened, and that's not going to be easy when they step out of that cockpit.

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This past decade I've seen too many news items of the aftermath of a bomb blast where people are being piled, often rather roughly, into whatever transport is available that I find it laughable to read a claim that this is now terrorist behaviour.

Then you magic all this Terrorist with AKs and RPGs. Have you even seen the footage? Point out these Enemy Combatants for me, please. Most of the people have clearly empty hands, for goodness sake.

As for it being an "active combat area". Uhm, no it's not. It's their neighbourhood they are walking around in, in apparent safety until the helo decides to put an oar in.

The second group, how long do you think they should have waited since the last shots before they'd help out?

Your defence of this incident is unfathomable to me. Cock ups don't come much more evident then this.

First off I never said it was terrorist behavior, only that I found the speed with which they ran from the van to the individual than back to the truck was not what I would expect.

I also NEVER used the word terrorist.

Yes I have viewed the video several times and I see what I believe to be at least one AK47 carried by the sling and another slung over a shoulder. The possible RPG is shown from around the corner, but from my first viewing I thought it could be a zoom lense.

My point is not to claim that the weapons were actually there, but that they appear to be. Given that the surge was just taking effect and that the insurgents were still attacking US forces on a daily basis you can understand that perception can overrule or even mask reality. Add to the the fact that the pilots are viewing this on a small grainy screen in a moving helo...you can understand if they mis-identified an RPG.

My reference to an active combat area refers to the arrival of the van, had their been combat there in the moments before?

I may also be missing something here, but what is the basis for screaming cover-up? Is it the failure to release the tapes?

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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.

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

After demands by Reuters, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own “Rules of Engagement”. ****

Consequently, WikiLeaks has released the classified Rules of Engagement for 2006, 2007 and 2008, revealing these rules before, during, and after the killings.

1. So they would not release the film because ?

2. They lied about not knowing how the children were injured

3. They said it was within terms of engagement but did not provide the terms.

Most people would suggest cover-up.

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for the unedited version

The black van arrives at about 0:40.

It is then out of sight behind the mosque that is about a block east of the open ground that forms the centrepiece for the following events. This isn't clear as the camera moves quickly from the mosque to the open ground and the street corner that is later the first target. The van arrives from the direction that the US Ground forces later arrive from, so it is possible, but not certain, that they have cued the helicopter onto it.

At 2:03, the camera jumps slightly from the journalists to three or four men on the south side of the street. The two on the left are carrying items that to me look like Kalashnikovs. The two that are definitely armed and pause by a pole while the other two move across the street to the corner where the journalists headed. At 2:20, two more men arrive at the pole and talk to the two armed men, gesturing towards the corner. They go out of sight (camera FoV and building) at 2:30 as the camera slews to the street corner in time to see a man crouching an working on a dark tubular object and at 2:33 the helo crew announce the presence of an RPG. At 2:40-2:41 the man crouching behind the building tips the item forward and it looks more like a camera.

At 2:52, a comment from a ground unit could indicate that the position that fire was received from was different to that currently being discussed.

The Helo clears the building and declares that it is firing at 3:07. 3:15 and an impatient comment is made regarding the delay in firing. There are 9 men in view, clustered together near the corner, but none are in position at the corner. Firing at 3:16. A 20 round burst, first round lands at 3:18, indicating a 2 second flight time (confirmed by 20 round burst at 600 rpm - round count is via heads-up display) and a maximum range of 1600m

A second burst of 20 follows almost immediately, following one of the journalists as he runs across the open ground/rubbish pile. He falls and is engaged with a further 20 rounds, [which is starting to look a bit sadistic really - fk]

The rest is well known.

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Much more info in this un-edited video. At the 2:10 point the individual in the light shirt near the pole appears to be holding an RPG while his partner has an AK. The manner in which the weapon is held, it's diameter and length indicate an RPG to me.

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This is not as bad as it appears. First off, it sure is nice having text-pointing over the video telling us these are cameras strung over their shoulders and not weapons. Is it really that discernible in the video these are not weapons? No it is not and considering that two clearly have AKs and a third with an RPG, understandable these are assumed weapons as well.

Whats most disturbing is engaging the unmarked minivan, certainly seems overkill. Also very disappointing is the pilots unprofessionalism and their eagerness to kill.

I know it is not popular to say since the Iraqi journalists are dead, but it's not very smart being that close to armed insurgents. Especially if there's fighting going on in the area. Speaking of which, we know very little of the big picture here, how hot was it? Was there small arms skirmishes going on? Was a convoy indeed ambushed at all? How close was the ground element?

As it is now, it's somewhat out of context.

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It appears that the van in question dropped off some of the victims, so it's quick response and the manner in which the occupants grabbed the injured man makes more sense. It also perhaps explains why they fired on it since it appears to be connected to the potential ambush.

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It appears that the van in question dropped off some of the victims, so it's quick response and the manner in which the occupants grabbed the injured man makes more sense. It also perhaps explains why they fired on it since it appears to be connected to the potential ambush.

Just saw a Brig. General(? forgot his name) on CNN talking about this video. He said ground forces were receiving fire for four hours prior. They also observed insurgents being dropped off and picked up by..... guess what.... minivans.

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Showed the un-edited video to my intern who was in Iraq at the time. He identified at least 2 AKs and confirmed the RPG.

He agrees that the van probably dropped off some insurgents and weapons. He also thinks that the 2 young men on the scooter who leave at about the 2:05 mark were operating as scouts and that the 'journalist' was leaning around the corner with his camera to give possible advance notice and possible range information.

In his eyes these innocent victims are far from innocent. The journalists were tipped off and were there to capture images of Americans being killed and possibly were assisting the insurgents.

Sounds a lot like the stringers that Reuters employed during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Gaza strip.

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Well, as we are entitled to our opinions, I found this to be a more accurate analysis:

Jawa Report

http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/201878.php

Video Shows Reuters Camerman With Insurgents Being Killed [bUMPED/UPDATED: Vidcaps Show Weapons]

Contrary to all of the "context" given by Wiki Leak which try to lead the viewer into thinking the US Military "murdered" several Iraqis including two who worked for Reuters, the video clearly runs contrary to the narrative.

I've embedded the Wiki Leak video below. Just ignore all the propaganda they write before and after the video and watch it.

A crowd of men surround at least two armed insurgents. The voices indicate that a Bradley and some Humvees are headed in the direction and that a recent engagement has taken place.

So, the helicopter pilot and ground controllers see armed men with a convoy approaching and taking fire and .... Wiki Leak has the nerve to call this murder?

They've even embedded it on a site they call "Collateral Murder."

These people are beyond stupid, they're evil.

Worst case scenario this is a few innocent being accidentally killed in the fog of war.

But the video doesn't even appear to be worst case scenario. It appears, in fact, that the video shows armed insurgents engaging or about to engage US troops. The Reuters camera men had embedded themselves with the insurgents. This makes them enemy combatants themselves and should have been shot.

Reuters has a long history of its local stringers embedding themselves with terrorist forces. Perhaps they do this because they are sympathetic, perhaps they do this to get "the story", but it matters little to those engaging insurgents.

When you embed yourselves with terrorists you know the risk. You are producing propaganda for them. You have become one of them.

Anything less than this understanding is purposeful naivite about "objective journalism". In war there can be no objective journalism. You're either with us or the enemy. If you want to stay neutral stay out of the war zone.

As for those who went in to pick up the bodies? Perhaps they were innocents. I've no idea.

But you drive your van into an active military engagement? What the hell were you thinking?

You are stupid. Innocent, but stupid. You're asking to be killed.

And if you brought children into the midsts of an ongoing military engagement that makes you more than stupid: it makes you criminally negligent.

"It's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle," says one of the Americans on the video. Indeed it is.

People, this is war. This happens in war. It can't be avoided. If you want to end civilian casualties then end war. Start by asking armed Islamists to put down their weapons. But you won't do that because your real objection isn't war, it's America. Which is why anti-war activists around the globe never protest al-Qaeda, only America.

They're not anti-war, they're anti-American.

Again, watch it. It's tragic, yes. War is tragic.

It seems there are a lot of facts that some members of this board wish to ignore. During the BDA, the unit on the ground confirmed the presence of multiple RPG launchers and multiple RPG rounds. That is a fact. In addition to that, the AWT in question was responding to a report of Troops in Contact in one of the worst muhallas in Baghdad. New Baghdad is damn near in Sadr City, that area had one of the highest IED rates in the AOR during the summer of 07. Historically, Sadr City has been a breeding ground for JAM and JAM-SG. It is a very violent, very dangerous place. So, we have: TIC in Sadr City. AIF armed with AKs and RPGs spotted in the vicinity of the patrol that is in contact. Explain to me how this is not a righteous kill?

As far as putting 30mm into the unmarked van is concerned, it wasn't marked as a first responder and the occupants were not wearing any type of uniform that would identify them as first responders. It is not unreasonable to believe that they were AIF aiding know AIF. AIF TTPs include "cleaning the scene" to remove all weapons IOT make it appear that the US is intentionally targeting civilians.

@Sergei, AQI and JAM are some seriously bad people. We are talking world class rotten human beings. Ask me how I know. In addition to that, white, black and brown has nothing to do with it. Maybe you haven't noticed but Islamic extremism covers a pretty broad spectrum of skin tones. What exactly are you inferring btw?

@JonS, I do not live under the premise that every human being is some how my brother. That may work for you, but not for me. My reasons for voluntarily going back to Iraq multiple times are my own. I am not going to attempt to explain them to you. In addition to that, if you wish to continue to throw insults, let me know when you will be in coastal Georgia and we can sort this out.

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As far as putting 30mm into the unmarked van is concerned, it wasn't marked as a first responder and the occupants were not wearing any type of uniform that would identify them as first responders.

If they are not wearing unforms they are illegal combatants, potential insurgents policing the scene and to be killed. If they are wearing uniforms they are enemy combatants and can be killed....

Four legs good.

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If they are not wearing unforms they are illegal combatants, potential insurgents policing the scene and to be killed. If they are wearing uniforms they are enemy combatants and can be killed....

Four legs good.

First responders, as in ambulance with paramedics. If the van had been marked with the red crescent it would not have been engaged. First Responders is really the key phrase in the sentence you quoted.

Also, as MSBoxer pointed out, the same van appears to have dropped off some of the individuals prior to the engagement.

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