WikiLeaks, a website for whistle blowers, has released video evidence of US forces killing two Iraqi Reuters employees: Saeed Chmagh and Namir Noor-Eldeen. The footage is taken from an Apache helicopter gun sight on July 12, 2007. The helicopter (one of two) circles above a town in Iraq as those on board try to identify who the people are on the street and what they are carrying.
The transcript of communication between ground forces (GF), the helicopter from which the footage is taken (H1), a second Apache helicopter (H2) and ground command (GC), although difficult to decipher, sufficiently reveals how events unfold:
01:18 (H1) I don’t know if that’s a…
01:19 (H2) Hey Bushmaster element [ground forces], copy on the one-six.
01:21 (H1) That’s a weapon.
01:22 (H1) Yeah.
01:23 (H1 to GC) Hotel Two-Six [ground command]; Crazy Horse One-Eight [Apache 1].
01:29 (GF) Copy on the one-six, Bushmaster Six-Romeo. Roger.
01:32 (H1) Fucking prick.
01:33 (H1 to GC) Hotel Two-Six this is Crazy Horse One-Eight. Have individuals with weapons.
01:41 (H1) Yup. He’s got a weapon too.
01:43 (H1 to GC) Hotel Two-Six; Crazy Horse One-Eight. Have five to six individuals with AK47s [automatic rifles]. Request permission to engage [shoot].
01:51 (GC) Roger that. Uh, we have no personnel east of our position. So, uh, you are free to engage. Over.
02:00 (H1) All right, we’ll be engaging.
02:02 (H2) Roger, go ahead.
And so they do. The problem is that what the Apache personnel believe are AK47s slung over the should of those below are really a couple of cameras. Watching these events unfold is distressing knowing that the people about to be chewed up by 30mm Apache gunfire are journalists and not insurgents.
On April 5, Australian journalist and member of WikiLeaks advisory board Julian Assange appeared on Al Jazeera testifying to the video’s authenticity.