Disturbing—and important

War is messy. War is ugly. In the midst of war, it often seems difficult to tell who’s on whose side. Having never been a soldier, I can’t really imagine what it’s like to find oneself in the midst of battle, bullets flying, lives ending.

That said, I have always been troubled by the we-here-in-the-U.S.-do-nothing-wrong mentality of many vocal military supporters. No matter what happens; no matter how bad things got in Iraq; no matter how ugly some of our soldiers behaved, they were always given the benefit of the doubt by the vocal majority. Always.

Sometimes, however, American soldiers do wrong. Really wrong. And that’s why the following video—painful as all hell—is important. It is a classified US military video depicting the slaying of more than a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad—including two Reuters reporters.

Reuters had 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.

This, according to the website Wikileaks.com:

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.

5 thoughts on “Disturbing—and important”

  1. That’s devastating and impossible to defend. I get that civilians dying is going to happen in war as an unintended result, but man. Way to use discretion on that one. When they started shooting on the van, that was just awful.

    There’s a great HBO miniseries GENERATION KILL done by the creators of THE WIRE and based off of Evan Wright’s book is great and you actually see a shit load of civlians being killed. These were MAJOR mess ups. I get people accidentally doing stuff in the heat of the moment, but then there’s just inexcusable mistakes being made.

  2. I’m a defender of the decision to go to war in Iraq, I think brutal dictators need to be dealt with and state sponsored terrorism needs to be eradicated, and I do think that the majority of people in the military should be commended for sacrificing their lives for the cause of worldwide freedom.
    However, all that said, this video is extremely disturbing and hard to watch. Clearly, something in our current military culture needs to change.

  3. I watched this video yesterday over at Salon.com. It literally sickened me. And, of course, the military tried to cover it up/justify it as an enemy engagement. Shades of Pat Tillman. How can we trust our government anymore? Each day, the media dutifully report anonymous government or military sources about terrorist threats, Iranian nukes, important terrorists killed (usually second-in-commands). There’s no vetting, no double sourcing, no independent confirmation of anything anymore. The runup to the Iraq war was a perfect example and it continues today with the reports that Iran is building new nuke factories. It is only a matter of time until we go to war with Iran under the pretense, yes, pretense of weapons of mass destruction. Whenever you hear a media report that begins, “Government sources say…”, stop and think-WHO says, WHY do they say, WHAT do they want by saying what they say, could what they say be total BS? Chances are the media is being used as a tool to spin and sway public opinion and sentiment to justify actions we would normally consider reprehensible. Please excuse me this morning for venting…I am just so worn out by the constant lies we are subjected to every day.

  4. Muhammad Goldstein

    Brian, since when has the US military been promoting “worldwide freedom”? WWII is long over..I suggest you ask some Vietnamese people if they agree about the US military “promoting freedom”.

    Get out of the middle east NOW! There will be no peace in the region while we have any soldiers there.

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