Monday, April 05, 2010

Wikileaks releases what could be evidence of the murder of Reuters journalists as well as civilians in Iraq


WWW--This is a very big deal and gives some more context to possible harassment of Wikileaks by American military and/or intelligence personnel as well as of anyone trying to report the reality on the ground in American occupied Iraq and Afghanistan.

I don't even know how to put this into words, but I do recall this incident from July 12th, 2007 where Iraqi Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh were killed by "friendly fire"...only now it appears that the fire was quite intentional and anything-but-friendly.
There also seems to be an element of bloodlust and cowardice on the part of the crew of the Apaches. Did they know the two were journalists? This is unclear, but there is mention in the communications transcript from the copters that seems to connotate that they knew they were "civilians."Is this yet another "isolated" event?

Recall that in early April 2003, three Al-Jazeera journalists were killed by "friendly fire," and also calls to mind the "accidental" shooting of hostage and Italian journalist Giuliana Sgrena who was fired on by American troops just outside of the Baghdad International Airport and nearly killed. One of her Italian intelligence agent rescuers--Nicola Calipari--died of his wounds. Sgrena worked for the Italian Communist paper, Il Manifesto. One might think you're life might be in danger as a correspondent if you're not towing the line for the Pentagon.

A separate site from the main Wikileaks home has been created for the release, possibly for security measures to prevent its hacking:
5th April 2010 10:44 EST 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. (www.collateralmurder.com/index)

The military has been mostly silent on how the event occurred and how the slain died, but ruled in an inquiry that the rules of engagement at that time were observed. The whole story underscores the weakness of the FOIA as well, but whatever works, it's out now. Reuters demanded an inquiry and action in the aftermath in 2007, just as they've had to in obtaining the release of other Iraqi Reuters employees/journalists, from Iraqi prisons, and got very little from the Pentagon--at least not copies. They were shown the materials off-the-record. Criminals don't tend to indict themselves, especially when they're the ones in power.

There's no indication
from any source of any combat or exchanges of fire immediately before the Apache helicopter gunner opened-fire on civilians and the two journalists, killing as many as eleven. One individual was viewed brandishing an RPG (soviet-designed rocket propelled grenade), but was seen after the event began and shots had already been fired. Two U.S. Army Apache helicopters were involved the 2007 incident with some ground forces nearby. Footage from one helicopter has been leaked to Wikileaks by a military whistleblower(s) and the activist site itself claims to have conducted interviews with other journalists, military personnel and other witnesses at the scene, including consulting with Reuters over the basic facts and timeline.
...WikiLeaks obtained this video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers. WikiLeaks goes to great lengths to verify the authenticity of the information it receives. 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.

WikiLeaks wants to ensure that all the leaked information it receives gets the attention it deserves. In this particular case, some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work. (ibid)

Wikileaks makes a fine point that occurred to me almost immediately: if we're seeing what we think we're seeing (and hearing), the event could even be part of a pattern of violence, harassment, and intimidation against members of the press in American war zones, especially considering that Reuters has had other incidents of harassment directed against their personnel in Iraq. A few of these journalists were arrested under flimsy pretenses and ferried off to the palatial Abu-Ghraib prison where God knows how they were treated. Now is a time of scoundrels. It hasn't ended with the national elections of 2008.

Wikileaks appears to have done their homework and have even included photographs, a timeline, documents, and even the transcript of the communications between the helicopters, also very telling when taken with the rules of engagement at the time and the 38 minute video. This exchange is most galling and not honorable behavior for soldiers of any army, of any nation:

...17:46 Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.

17:48 That's right. ...

18:29 I think they just drove over a body.

18:31 Hey hey!

18:32 Yeah!

18:37 Maybe it was just a visual illusion, but it looked like it.

18:41 Well, they're dead, so. ...

(http://www.collateralmurder.com/en/transcript.html)

After these comments, there were more shots fired by the crew of the main Apache helicopter and a missile was fired into a building filled with armed civilians. There's no indication that any shots had been fired at the military personnel at any point in the roughly 38 minute event. It should be noted that many Iraqis carry AK-47s into dangerous areas, which one can assume, is when occupying troops and militias are present. Johnny got his gun, was instilled with fear and trained to kill, and imbued with a hair-trigger mentality. This isn't how soldiers are supposed to behave, not at all. Yet, the Pentagon says that this was part of the rules of engagement at the time. Are they sure they want to stand by that one?

Contrary to popular belief, life isn't a videogame.


"BREAKING NEWS-LEAKED VIDEO FOOTAGE EXPOSES PENTAGON MURDER COVER-UP," The Elf Wax Times, 04.05.2010: http://www.elfwax.com/news/breaking-news-video-footage-to-expose-pentagon-murder-cover-up/

Wikileak's page on the 2007 slaughter: http://collateralmurder.com/en/download.html

Tyler Bass's blog: http://spectaclemonopolized.blogspot.com/

NYTimes article on original Baghdad attack in July 12, 2007
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/13/world/middleeast/13iraq.html

"The war on Wikileaks and why it matters," Salon.com, 03.27.2010: http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/03/27/wikileaks?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+salon%252Fgreenwald+%2528Glenn+Greenwald%2529

http://www.collateralmurder.com/en/transcript.html

"U.S. Bombing Raid Kills Three Journalists in Bagdad," Fox News.com, 04.08.2003: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,83503,00.html