April 7, 2010
It boggles the mind to watch the short of Wikileaks’ leaked video. To hear the clipped voices of the American helicopter pilots honing in on a group of civilians, including a Reuters photographer and his driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad, then killing them, mistaking the photographer’s camera for an AK-47.
Twelve in all were killed and two children wounded sitting in a rescue van. One pilot’s response to that was, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”
The oft-conservative New York Times reporting Video Shows U.S. Killing of Reuters Employees catches the cold, ruthless tone of the Apache helicopter pilots. At one point saying, “Look at these dead bastards,” and the response is “Nice.” In fact, one pilot, impatient to do more killing insists, “Come on. Let us shoot.” He’s waiting for confirmation the intended victim has a weapon, which he obviously does not. Yet eventually, the wounded victim, Mr. Noor-Eldeen, 22, is shot dead. His driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40, is shot as well. This can be seen in the full 38-minute version.
You get to listen to all the blind-brained macho of these guys who would probably shoot their mother if she had a broom in her hand, sad-assed murderers that they are, reveling in this slaughter. The full video, Wikileaks reported at the National Press Club, came from whistle-blowers in the military who had viewed it after breaking the encryption code. Wikileaks subsequently edited the video to 17 minutes. All blessings go to those military whistle-blowers for their courage.
At another point, we hear a pilot say, “I think they just drove over a body,” and he chuckles at the van trying to gather the wounded.
The journalists had been working on a weightlifting report, Reuters said, when they heard of the military raid in the Baghdad neighborhood and went out to check on it.
There were reports of U.S. forces clashing with “insurgents” in the area though no fighting had taken place on the streets, in which Namir was walking with a group of men, whom witnesses said were not assuming hostile postures.
No disciplinary action was taken by the American military, which determined after an “investigation” that the “forces involved had no reason to know that there were Reuters employees in the group.” What about the civilians and children that would killed or wounded as well?
In fact, the United States Central Command, overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released late Monday a redacted report providing more detail on the events. It contained pictures of what it claimed were machine guns and grenades found near the bodies of the killed.
It also claimed the Reuters journalists “made no effort to display their status as press or media representatives and their familiar behavior with, and close proximity to, the armed insurgents and their furtive attempts to photograph the coalition ground forces made them appear as hostile combatants to the Apaches that engaged them.”
What were the Reuters guys supposed to do, wave their press cards at the choppers? That in and of itself probably would have gotten them killed. They would have been seen as “small arms” fired at pilots.
As to the planting of arms next to the already dead, innocent victims, that’s an old story going back to the slaughter in Haditha on November 19, 2005. At that time, U.S. Marines were caught on video by a journalism student as they massacred women, kids and old folks at close range. Similar situations occurred at Fallajuh. There are scenes of the dead before and after weapons are added. This latest video brings the horror of Iraq back in a painfully palpable way.
A Reuters’ representative made a statement that: “The deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh three years ago were tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones. We continue to work for journalist safety and call on all involved parties to recognize the important work that journalists do and the extreme danger that photographers and video journalists face in particular.”
But what about the civilians, Mr. Schlesinger? Who will speak for them, for their pointless deaths? And who will apologize for the careless killers in their high-tech weapons spitting death? Who will apologize for the war that was illegally started on the basis that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was about to use them on us any moment?
Who will try to convict Bush, Cheney, Rice, Powell, Rumsfeld, and Company who lied a thousand times or more that they were absolutely certain WMD were in Hussein’s possession, and that the mushroom cloud was to appear at any moment on the horizon? What about these murderers, giving the itchy fingers reasons to pull, pull, pull; giving them reasons to “shock and awe” an entire nation into destruction and chaos?
Who will judge these men and women in a court of law and take their lives as those civilians and journalists’ lives were taken, so randomly, casually, just another day in the chopper, dear? Yet the very same or worse killing continues, equally as randomly by drones guided from the CIA at Langley, making the murder even more impersonal in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and all points south.
And what force of justice, god or man, will judge the United States of America as the ongoing World Butcher, supported by tax dollars of working people who themselves are trying to keep their heads above the water-line of extinction? If the statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and our forefathers could speak, they would scream in anger at us for this decent into barbarism. It makes this writer sick to his stomach.