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Video confirms U.S. military ambush of civilians

By ANNE FLAHERTY
April 6, 2010

Video capture from Apache helicopter camera (AP)

A gritty war video circulating on the Internet that shows U.S. troops firing repeatedly on a group of men — some of whom were unarmed — walking down a Baghdad street is authentic, a senior U.S. military official confirmed Monday.

The official said the video posted at Wikileaks.org was of a July 12, 2007, firefight involving Army helicopters in the New Baghdad District of eastern Baghdad.

Among those believed to have been killed in that attack was Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Saeed Chmagh, 40. Two children also were wounded.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the video, said the military could not confirm the identities of the Reuters employees in the film.

The Pentagon would not confirm the video’s authenticity on the record, despite repeated requests from The Associated Press.

“At this time, we are working to verify the source of the video, its veracity, and when or where it was recorded,” a statement from U.S. military headquarters in Iraq said late Monday.

The military also provided redacted copies of portions of its inquiry into the July 2007 incident, again without confirming that the incident described in those documents is the same one posted by Wikileaks.

According to a July 19 summary of the investigation, U.S. troops acted appropriately. Reuters employees were likely “intermixed among the insurgents” and difficult to distinguish because of their equipment, the document states.

“It is worth noting the fact that insurgent groups often video and photograph friendly activity and insurgent attacks against friendly forces for use in training videos and for use as propaganda to exploit or highlight their capabilities,” the document concludes.

The incident has been reported before, but the video had not been released.

The video provides a rare, disturbing close-up of modern urban warfare at a time when violence was near its peak in Baghdad and the U.S. death toll was mounting.

In this incident, soldiers flying attack helicopters were called in to assist ground troops who had been pinned down by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

According to U.S. officials, the pilots arrived at the scene to find a group of men approaching the fight with what looked to be AK-47s slung over their shoulders and at least one rocket-propelled grenade.

A military investigation later concluded that what was thought to be an RPG was really a long-range photography lens; likewise, the camera looked like an AK-47.

Wikileaks.org posts video and documents passed along by anonymous sources. They posted the video of the July 2007 firefight at “collateralmurder.com.”

The shooters can be heard asking for permission to engage, and one says “Light ‘em up!”

Some men drop immediately, while at least one can be seen scrambling to get away.

“Ah, yeah, look at those dead bastards. Nice,” one shooter says.

The helicopters later destroy a vehicle that arrived on the scene to help a wounded man. When ground forces arrive, the video shows what looks to be a child being carried from the vehicle and U.S. troops saying the child should be sent to a local Iraqi hospital.

“Well, it’s their fault bringing their kids into the battle,” a cockpit voice can be heard saying.

Navy Capt. Jake Hanzlik, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said U.S. forces in Iraq recognize many of the images in the video posted at Wikileaks.org and have no reason to believe it is a fake. However, he said, they were still comparing the video and audio to see if it matched their own.

Headquartered at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Central Command is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Middle East and Central Asia.

Reuters said it couldn’t verify that the video was of its employees dying, even though it looks like one of the men killed had a camera slung over his shoulder.

The video is “graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result,” said David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief of Reuters news.

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16 Responses to Video confirms U.S. military ambush of civilians

  1. griff

    April 6, 2010 at 8:13 am

    America – making the world safe for hypocrisy. Makes me wonder why any one would not love us.

  2. Carl Nemo

    April 6, 2010 at 9:23 pm

    America has gone rogue Griff. It’s not the America I grew up in or served for 30 years.

    Our political and military functions have been usurped by criminally disposed politicians and high ranking military personnel of the same stripe too. The MIC and their Congressional enablers have seemingly taken over the U.S. as predicted in Ike’s farewell address.

    The root cause of this issue is the worship of mammon; ie., big $$ along with the imagined comfort and security it provides and the never-ending thirst for more of the same.

    Peoples anywhere mean nothing to them, we’ve been commoditized and minimized. In their sociopathic, warped minds “We the People” are nothing while they and their criminally disposed goals mean everything to them.

    The Constitution of the United States has truly become nothing but a “g-damned piece of paper” per G.W. Bush; ie., nothing more, nothing less…!

    It’s my hope that sheer economic forces of a failing dollar along with hyperinflation and a lack of deep pockets financial backers takes this emerging dreadnought for worldwide tyranny out; ie., Amerika the usurper, now Amerika the terrible…!

    Carl Nemo **==

    • griff

      April 6, 2010 at 10:58 pm

      Hey Carl, in these days of globalism there is no America. We get the same treatment the rest of the globe gets.

    • Guardhouse lawyer

      April 7, 2010 at 4:53 am

      “It’s my hope that sheer economic forces of a failing dollar along with hyperinflation and a lack of deep pockets financial backers takes this emerging dreadnought for worldwide tyranny out; ie., Amerika the usurper, now Amerika the terrible…!”

      You, sir, are a traitor, giving aid and comfort to our enemies. Your hatred for our country is despicable, low, execrable.

      • Carl Nemo

        April 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

        Yo Guardhouse lawyer,

        “You, sir, are a traitor, giving aid and comfort to our enemies.” …extract from post

        With a juvenile response such as yours, it finally hit me that you must be around 15 years old and posting to this site from your attic bedroom. Does your mother know you are playing around on adult websites and not doing your homework?!

        It’s not possible to give aid and comfort to our enemies in these new age, kumbaya, everybody wins times. We’re now living in the age of globalism gone wild and there’s no true enemy other than one’s created by our scriptwriters in the third sub-basement of the CIA writing international social psychodrama; ie., ever-hatching “false flag ops” and new zones of conflict for the enrichment of their patrons in the MIC.

        “We’ve met the enemy and he is us”…old Pogo cartoon strip quote

        Carl Nemo **==

        • griff

          April 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

          Funny how the left now uses the same “America-hater” talking points that the right did just a few years prior. It was okay to hate Bush based on his actions and policy, but not okay to hate Obama for the same reasons. Surely there must be some underlying mental deficiency, i.e. racism, that fuels our discontent.

  3. woody188

    April 6, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    The video in question.

    “At this time, we are working to verify the source of the video, its veracity, and when or where it was recorded,” a statement from U.S. military headquarters in Iraq said late Monday.

    Pray for whoever leaked that video. I have a feeling they are about to disappear into the terrorist hole.

  4. AustinRanter (AKA Gregg)

    April 7, 2010 at 5:30 pm

    I frequently see videos or news clips were a fair number of run-of-the-mill citizens carry weapons.

    Hell, if I lived in Iraq I would want to carry more than an AK around, if at all possible. I’d want a couple of back-up handguns, a knife… Hmmm, that’s sounds like my old neighborhood in the south side of Dallas where I grew up.

    In my opinion…looks like these guys were gunned down for no reason.

  5. b mcclellan

    April 7, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Where and in what degree of close proximity were the pinned down troops from the killing field ?
    Seems to me this is the real question as to the use of deadly force and needs to be addressed before a full and clear picture of this matter can be obtained.

    • griff

      April 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

      Excellent observation.

      • b mcclellan

        April 7, 2010 at 7:28 pm

        The ole media carrot as it were, no?

        We’re big boys and girls, give it to us straight, we can take it.

        Ah, if only it were so that faith in the true makeup of this nation would be given it’s rightful dose of the truth as to the machinations.

        This I know, is what gives cause for the manipulators tight lips..
        Security clearance for lies with impunity.
        Hack..

    • woody188

      April 7, 2010 at 9:40 pm

      As I understand it, they were a couple of blocks away and the concern was this group was going to join in the fight there.

      • b mcclellan

        April 7, 2010 at 10:11 pm

        Back to rules of engagement ,
        times two,
        maybe four tours.
        How far do we extend principle in the guise of , take it easy, it’s inevitable.

      • AustinRanter (AKA Gregg)

        April 8, 2010 at 11:27 am

        Woody,

        I’m not belittling or being condescending about your post as to what you understand the situation might have been. But aren’t you a little suspicious about the explanation that you just posted?

        I have a lot of problems with scattered reports that really only lead us to make assumptions. I take this incident to be suspicious…and not from the men’s side who were cut down.

        We’ve all seen or heard about a type of incident before where military made a bad call, or they purposely killed innocent people.

        Speculations begin to fly everywhere when something like this happens and the first thing we think of is, “the miliary hasn’t really released all of the facts.” We seem to automatically accept, in our minds, that our military is going to release completely truthful accounts and intelligence that lead to certain actions.

        What we know so far…It derives from all of the same types of rhetoric that occurs iwhen military operations are in question from all the similar types of sources.

        Not playing devil’s advocate, but we have a history where our military leaders covering up or manipulated (lied or distorted the truth) about incidents involving actions taken that required a split decision or difficult circumstance that required making quick distinctions as to “who was enemy combatants vs civilian”. This was no split decision nor did I see a difficult set of circumstances in which to make the call.

        I’ve taken mind reading 101 about a hundred thousand times and I’ve failed it that many times.

        Even if there were any insurgent activities two blocks away…those guys could have also gathered to dicuss how to try and defend their neighborhood area…especially if they had families in the nearby area. No place is safe in Iraq. I would be on edge every second of the day. And even as a civilian I would carry any weapon that I could manage.

        I saw the video, I heard the pilot talk with command, I watched the group of men…and I’m not buying their justification. The chopper pilots had no idea as to what these men were engaged in other than being gathered at a corner and two or three obviously had weapons.

        Would you enter a potential combat area with a group of men where only about a 1/3 were carrying weapons?

        • woody188

          April 8, 2010 at 1:02 pm

          I’m not saying either way. Things can be confusing in the thick of combat, and while they didn’t appear threatening to us, we weren’t there. Things that are obvious from our arm chairs might not be so obvious in the thick of it. It’s also one of the hazards of fighting a ground war from the air, and certainly one of the reasons we are losing the hearts and minds of these people to the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Sadr in Iraq.

          It seems obvious to me this type of thing happens all the time, hence over one million deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan where innocent people were in the wrong place at the wrong time. But usually it’s portrayed by the military as being all insurgents, as was the case in this instance.

          I guess the lesson here is if the US military is in your neighbor hood, best to hunker down inside until they leave. Because they will not hesitate to shoot you dead and then lie about it.

  6. Senegoid

    April 8, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    Judging by the video those military lads appeared to be having a bonza time. Just wait to they get home and experience nightmares that won’t go away – the guilt, the shame; but then again they may feel really good about their depravity – in which case they’ll probably join homeland security and blow the shit out of little American boys and girls.

    Poor fellow Iraq – poor fellow America.