After watching the WikiLeaks video of the Apache gunners mowing down fifteen civilians, I’m left with more questions than answers, and the distaste for war and soldiers that has been brewing my entire adulthood continues.
Do these soldiers not have top of the line equipment that could have been used to verify that the journalists were indeed carrying cameras? The camera itself isn’t clear enough to tell the difference between an AK-47, an RPG and a camera. Don’t they have high-tech binoculars?
Where did the reported shots come from? WHERE there actually shots fired?
Why weren’t the wounded children taken to their field hospital? They just killed the poor kids father, and then they’re shipping them off to an Iraqi hospital where it is unlikely they would receive the care they need to survive.
At what point did they realize that these men were journalists and not terrorists? Likely as soon as the men on the ground got there and found, not Ak’s, but cameras with long lenses.
The most troubling part of all of this is that I don’t have context. Why were they flying over that particular area and so afraid of what they would find that everyone involved would jump to the conclusion that these men deserved to die?
So a quick google search provided me with some intelligent quotations from people who seem to know what they’re talking about.
The reaction to this video is misguided and overblown. Let me quote for you a key passage from David Finkel’s book where he went into this incident in detail:
“All morning long, this part of Al-Amin had been the most hostile. While (Capt.) Tyler Andreson had been under a shade tree in west Al-Amin, and (Lt. Col.) Kauzlarich had dealt with occasional gunfire in the center part, east Al-Amin had been filled with gunfire and some explosions. There had been reports of sniper fire, rooftop chases, and rocket-propelled grenades being fired at Bravo Company, and as the fighting continued, it attracted the attention of Namir Noor-Eldeen, a twenty-two-year-old photographer for the Reuters news agency who lived in Baghdad, and Saeed Chmagh, forty, his driver and assisstant.
Some journalists covering the war did so by embedding with the U.S. military. Others worked independantly. Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh were among those who worked independantly, which meant that the military didn’t know they were in Al-Amin…
It goes on to condemn the Government, but defend the soldiers actions.
Some of my anger is quelled, but if it was an honest mistake, why is it only being talked about three years later? Is the Government really so secret, that they withheld the video from Reuters, The news source trying to determine what happened to their journalists?
Not only that, but WikiLeaks may have more footage of a 2009 attack that killed 100 civilians.
Another very interesting read clarifying the matter even more is that of Anthony Martinez, an Iraqi aerial footage technician. His analysis of the problem with the WikiLeaks video proves a good counter argument to the kinds of questions that viewing the video alone raised, but he also condemns the soldiers for their continued action when the van showed up — which is when the children got wounded.
It’s hard to know exactly what to believe, but as a journalist seeking the truth, an aerial technician who worked with the military is quite a good source.