Wikileaks Video Shows US Killing of 2 Reuters Newsmen

Wikileaks on Monday released a 17 minute video of a US helicopter gunship attack on a group of Iraqi men in New Baghdad in 2007. The pilots mistakenly identified the camera of a Reuters photographer who was with the men as a rocket propelled grenade launcher, and the US attack killed two civilian Reuters news personnel. Two children were also wounded in the firing. A US military man dismissed the children’s death as the fault of those who had been killed, saying , “well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.” has a good discussion of the video, in which the main conclusions appear to be these:

1. The cover-up of the pilots’ mistake in killing the Reuters cameramen and mistaking their cameras for an RPG is the worst thing about this episode

2. While the pilots who fired at apparently armed men (and at least 3 were actually armed) thought they were saving US ground troops who had been pinned down from men with small arms, they had less justification for firing on the van. Indeed, the latter action may have been a war crime since the van was trying to pick up the wounded and it is illegal to fire on the wounded and those hors de combat.

3. While many actions of the pilots may not have been completely wrong under their rules of engagement, nevertheless they often acted inexcusably, and their attitude is inhuman and deplorable.

See Glenn Greenwald on why the USG attempt to suppress wikileaks matters.

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16 Responses

  1. I actually visited the site of this attack the following day — I blogged about it here.

    link to

    The most important thing about this video is that EVERY TIME a helicopter or other aircraft "engages," there is a video record of it. Permission was given by someone in the TOC (tactical operations center) to the pilots to fire. Any time there is a dispute over what happens, the military could simply release the video and other records to back up its version of events.

  2. The biggest problem, of course, is that we never had any business being in Bagdad, and all resultant deaths are criminal.

  3. The video should be require watching for the US public.

    Most US citizens have been "sold" on "precision weapon systems" and how "sanitary" war has become.

    This sort of scene has undoubtedly been repeated hundreds of times in Iraq and Af/Pak. The only thing notable about this ugly incident is that 2 Reuters reports were murdered.

  4. There are images saddening beyond my words, but such images would be nearly continuous had we film of the nearly continuous attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq all these years.

  5. Two things that come to mind:
    1. Use of – this web site came to my attention a few years ago when they were the subject of legal proceedings for releasing corporate and government secret information
    2. Targeting of journalists carrying cameras: I first read about such events when I studied the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, when… See More a tank fired on a TV camera crew. Similar events continue to take place as TV camera carrying journalists are still mis-identified as carrying RPGs or TOW missiles, even though the surveillance technology has improved over the last 30 years.

  6. Am I the only one who thinks that mistaking a camera for an RPG from thousands of feet while flying in a helicopter is understandable – unfortunate and regrettable to be sure – but understandable? We sent these men to kill pursuant to well defined rules of engagement and they carried out their task with grim professionalism. I feel certain that this is about as careful an approach to killing people as we can expect in war. Identify a target, determine the location of troops in the area, attempt to verify whether the target is armed or not, ask for approval, circle for several minutes while awaiting permission, holding your fire so long as the rules of engagement are not met and then firing once permission is granted.

    We shouldn't be in Iraq and the loss of innocent life is terrible, but what did people think happened in war? Frankly I'm surprised it is as controlled and careful as it is.

  7. JamesSpeaks is correct, of course: The guilt and responsibility for all of the carnage and devastation, both the quantifiable and the imponderable consequences of this illegal and immoral war rest squarely on the heads of the citizens of the United States, who did nothing (save a tiny few, like myself) to try and stop it. War crimes were committed in this incident, but the supreme crime against humanity, as the Nuremberg Tribunal emphatically stated, is a war of aggression, which engenders and renders criminal everything which follows. If we believe in the promise of America, in liberty, in justice and the rule of law, we must stand up and demand it, while we are still able to — and the hour is getting late.

    ~Wizard Vargold

  8. The wingnuts (and that of course includes the NYT) immediately accused Wiki of posting an edited version.
    Wikileaks posted both the edited 17 minute version, plus the full 38 minute version.
    Again, see Greenwald
    link to

    The Initial articles were then amended with no mention that they'd initially lied.

  9. There was a third attack after these two, where there were hellfire missiles fired at an apartment complex which killed women and children. And this apache team didn't even get a slap on the wrist for this… And the Pentagon originally called it a 'fire-fight' and these Reuters guys were caught in the middle of this imaginary fire-fight.

    I want these criminals put on trial…along with the Pentagon officials who covered this up and completely lied about the sequence of events.

  10. I was also all over this video on my blog yesterday. It was the audio that was most haunting.
    Killing the wounded, and re-killing the dead. The military has since defended the murder of these innocent people. SHAME,SHAME,SHAME.

  11. Don't let the camera for RPG thing become a meme. Look carefully at the transcript — they asked for permission to fire BEFORE they had "misidentified" the camera for an RPG. Mistaking a camera for an RPG is not the REASON for the request for permission to kill the men, but a RESULT of it.


  12. Is the quality of visual data from the pilots head-mount the same as the on-board camera? I have a feeling what they actually see could clearer than the video, but I'm not sure

  13. I posted the video and story across some 30-40 sites immediately after the release of the video.

    I found one reference to it at

    It is being mentioned at sites dealing with foreign policy, as well as

    I don't have a TV and don't read papers; all of my info is from the net.

    yesterday, MediaFail reported that there is virtually no mention of it in mainstream media. see

    link to

  14. I cant believe people here are even thinking about defending these actions or labelling all this as a mistake.

    First of all, the video clearly shows the reporters before they stand in that corner and the camera and other equipment is clearly visible. If I can see it, why cant the pilot of a an extremely expensive war bird?

    Secondly, the AH-64 Apache has high resolution cameras that show the world in full colour and with the abilityy to magnify the image. The pilots never once used that option, not even when the reporters were out in the open, walking with the equipment. That shows the mindset: kill them all.

    And finally, what galls me the most bout people who defend these actions, is the final engagaement on the van.

    This is a distrubing video which raises several questions. Has this happened before? How many times has it happened? Why has the military lied about it? What else have they lied about? Are the people that defend this the same people who call all Muslims or Iraqis terrorists because they apparently dont denounce terrorist attacks?

  15. "may have been a war crime" ??? This was a war crime !!!

  16. Sorry Juan Cole ,but this time–you need to smarten up. Go back to the video and Listen to the blood thirsty sick minded–swearing and wanting to kill kill kill. Even after the turkey shoot,these so called military men of action, drove their tanks over the dead. Nameing of Apache Hellacoptor and CrazyHorse is a sure sign of sickness and lack of respect to the 32 million native Americans slaughtered. Jim should start his articles by reminding his readers that our goon military men are in Iraq/Afghas for 3 reasons–}sreal, Oil, Drugs.And at least state that Iraq had nothing—I say–"NOTHING" to do with the 911 attacks.
    Speaking of no coverage of the KosherAllmedia attacks,3 weeks ago it was found that on Sept 11 2001 @2:30 PM–over 265 }sraelies feld USA from JFK airport assisited wit the help of FBI and Rudy Guilania,
    So Jim Cole,your article today stinks and is half@ssed gloos over :^/

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