Footage released of US forces killing two Reuters employees in Iraq

Still from the US Apache helicopter

Still from the US Apache helicopter

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.

April 5 2010: Julian Assange on Al Jazeera

One thought on “Footage released of US forces killing two Reuters employees in Iraq

  1. I certainly hope that the grotesque conduct of the Apache helicopter personnel does not get lost amid the curiosity about the mysterious Australian hacker-cum-journalist Julian Assange, but here is a small insight into Assange’s pre-WikiLeaks views on the effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance:

    Sun 31 Dec 2006 : The non linear effects of leaks on unjust systems of governance

    You may want to read The Road to Hanoi or Conspiracy as Governance ; an obscure motivational document, almost useless in light of its decontextualization and perhaps even then. But if you read this latter document while thinking about how different structures of power are differentially affected by leaks (the defection of the inner to the outer) its motivations may become clearer.

    The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in its leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive “secrecy tax”) and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaption.

    Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, mass leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

    Only revealed injustice can be answered; for man to do anything intelligent he has to know what’s actually going on.

Respond, rebuke, participate: