The Web site WikiLeaks.org released a graphic video on Monday showing an American helicopter shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and driver in a July 2007 attack in Baghdad.Description of the content of the video, which may be triggering, is below.
A senior American military official confirmed that the video was authentic.
Reuters had long pressed for the release of the video, which consists of 38 minutes of black-and-white aerial video and conversations between pilots in two Apache helicopters as they open fire on people on a street in Baghdad. The attack killed 12, among them the Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and the driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.
At a news conference at the National Press Club, WikiLeaks said it had acquired the video from whistle-blowers in the military and viewed it after breaking the encryption code. WikiLeaks edited the video to 17 minutes.
On the day of the attack, United States military officials said that the helicopters had been called in to help American troops who had been exposed to small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in a raid. "There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force," Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad, said then.The Pentagon flat-out lied about the unmistakable nature of what happened.
But the video does not show hostile action. Instead, it begins with a group of people milling around on a street, among them, according to WikiLeaks, Mr. Noor-Eldeen and Mr. Chmagh. The pilots believe them to be insurgents, and mistake Mr. Noor-Eldeen's camera for a weapon. They aim and fire at the group, then revel in their kills.
"Look at those dead bastards," one pilot says. "Nice," the other responds.
A wounded man can be seen crawling and the pilots impatiently hope that he will try to fire at them so that under the rules of engagement they can shoot him again. "All you gotta do is pick up a weapon," one pilot says.
A short time later a van arrives to pick up the wounded and the pilots open fire on it, wounding two children inside. "Well, it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle," one pilot says.
At another point, an American armored vehicle arrives and appears to roll over one of the dead. "I think they just drove over a body," one of the pilots says, chuckling a little.
So it's no wonder that, as reported by Think Progress, that "Wikileaks has been targeted by the Pentagon and related intelligence agencies for its cooperation with military whistleblowers. In 2008, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Center put together a report outlining tactics to suppress whisteblowers, in which it cited Wikileaks by name as one organization it intends to "destroy [as] a center of gravity" for whisteblowing activity. Meanwhile, the Wikileaks founder has alleged that his organization is being intimidated and spied on by American intelligence agencies."
It's no wonder. But it's still appalling.
Digby notes that "the most trusted name in news" isn't covering themselves in glory with their coverage of this story, either.
We've got a government at war which refuses to be transparent, a military complex that covers up the crimes of its soldiers, and a media who are eminently willing to be complicit in the subterfuge and obfuscation.
I don't know if I can find words to properly convey how thoroughly angry this makes me.