Monday, April 5, 2010

Wikileaks Video Exposes U.S. Unprovoked Killings of Iraqi Civilians

This very disturbing video is primarily footage from a U.S. military "engagement" in Baghdad -- really an unprovoked killing of civilians, with over a dozen killed, including a Reuters photographer. Two children were also wounded in the attack, where the hyped-up Apache helicopter crew congratulate each other for their great aim, beg for approval to shoot a crawling wounded man, and open fire on a van trying to help the wounded.

At her blog, Marcy Wheeler makes the point that this video's release falls on the same day that U.S. military command admits it wrongly killed three Afghan women in another unprovoked attack on a house near Gardez, Afghanistan [see update below[. The U.S. also killed a district prosecutor and local police chief in the attack. The New York Times is reporting that "Special Operations forces dug bullets out of the bodies of the women to hide the true nature of their deaths." (See video on this story by Brave New Foundation's Rethink Afghanistan Project -- H/T Derrick Crowe.)

The Wikileaks video, as well as the latest information on yet another grisly killing and cover-up by U.S. Special Forces and their allies in Afghanistan, is the strongest argument yet for the need to call for all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan and Iraq. The current administration is escalating the war in Afghanistan, and plans to leave tens of thousands of troops in Iraq after the so-called U.S. withdrawal.

Let your friends and family know how you feel. Write to your congressman. Write a letter to the paper. Go to a demonstration by a group you trust or support. Get your union or church involved. Unless and until the people of this country loudly say no, more atrocities will be done in our name.

And while you're at it, support Wikileaks. -- Below is the commentary that came with the release of the Wikileaks video.

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.

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.

WikiLeaks has released both the original 38 minutes video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions.

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.

Update: Glenn Greenwald has a great post up on the emerging story of U.S. atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan:

What is clear -- yet again -- is how completely misinformed and propagandized Americans continue to be by the American media, which constantly "reports" on crucial events in Afghanistan by doing nothing more than mindlessly and unquestioningly passing along U.S. government claims as though they are fact.
Greenwald has an interview with British journalist Jerome Starkey, who has been reporting on the Paktia killings by U.S. forces of three women -- two of them pregnant -- last February. Starkey went to the scene and reported the truth about the killings, while the U.S. authorities lied about finding the women dead and tied up when they arrived. Now the U.S. command in Kabul has admitted it was its forces that killed the women.

Starkey himself posted an excellent article last month: U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan are committing atrocities, lying, and getting away with it. It's important reading from a reporter that highly deserves the epithet "intrepid."

Meanwhile, Spencer Ackerman has posted the U.S. military's first official statement on the Wikileaks video of the Baghdad atrocity killings:
We are aware that several media outlets are airing footage depicting gunfire from a U.S. helicopter and claiming that this footage was recorded during an incident in 2007 in which two Reuters reporters were killed. At this time, we are working to verify the source of the video, its veracity, and when or where it was recorded. The incident presumably associated with this video was investigated in 2007, and the releasable portions of that investigation are available [here].
Warning, if you click on the link "here" in the paragraph above, which has an address linking to U.S. Central Command, you will be directed to a page that first posts this warning (bold in original):

You are accessing a U.S. Government (USG) Information System (IS) that is provided for USG-authorized use only.

By using this IS (which includes any device attached to this IS), you consent to the following conditions:

  • The USG routinely intercepts and monitors communications on this IS for purposes including, but not limited to, penetration testing, COMSEC monitoring, network operations and defense, personnel misconduct (PM), law enforcement (LE), and counterintelligence (CI) investigations.
  • At any time, the USG may inspect and seize data stored on this IS.
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  • This IS includes security measures (e.g., authentication and access controls) to protect USG interests -- not for your personal benefit or privacy.
  • Notwithstanding the above, using this IS does not constitute consent to PM, LE, or CI investigative searching or monitoring of the content of privileged communications, or work product, related to personal representation or services by attorneys, psychotherapists, or clergy, and their assistants. Such communications and work product are private and confidential.
    See User Agreement for details
I don't know about you, but I don't feel like clicking through.

UPDATE, 4/7/10, 11:30pm -- Stephen Soldz has posted a compendium of different links and videos related to the Wikileaks tape, including interviews with the widow of one of those killed, and mother to the injured children. In addition, more evidence is presented as to the authenticity of the video, necessary as there is a Pentagon campaign to minimize its effect. Of course, the video is now missing from the Pentagon files.

1 comment:

Uncle $cam said...

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