9.11.10

Collateral Murder? I think not.

(This note was originally started on the wikileaks facebook page.)

Watch the youtube propaganda clip first.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU3G0
http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=257241943278&topic=14826

"Murder, as defined in common law countries, is the unlawful killing of another human being with intent (or malice aforethought), and generally this state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter)."

I support a strong, free press that keeps people like me honest, so good job to you guys.

Otoh I'd love to know if the person who provided you with the video + radio recording made an attempt to alert their chain of command to the truth of the incident. Contrary to popular belief not everyone in the military always knows exactly what happened in every situation, even less so in a complex and chaotic war situation. I'd also love to know why some of the men in the group were carrying weapons, what they had planned to do with them, and the intent of everyone in the group. That camera around the corner looked very much like a few types of rocket launchers, which is unfortunate, but that's war. That said, the decision to open fire on the van seems wrong to me, but it's easy to second-guess after the fact. War is inherently dangerous, people will make mistakes and innocent people will get killed. I don't like it either, and didn't particularly like the decision to invade Iraq - but we're there now and have to make the best of it.

War is also a matter of PR. Was it a deliberate cover up? Possibly, but I doubt it - more likely just people not having 100% information and knowing that the pilot fired on unidentified people carrying guns and sticking what appeared to be an RPG launcher around a street corner in a war zone. There's simply no hard and fast way to tell the difference between armed insurgents and a crowd of civilians who happen to carry guns. Should the incident have been investigated as soon as this video was brought to light? Yes, but I'm not sure that would lead to anything. Crowd gathering, people carrying guns and what looks like an RPG launcher poking around the corner in a war zone = open fire. The children were identified as needing urgent medical care and were transported to a hospital - I really disagree with you faulting soldiers for not taking them to a base facility when they have other urgent missions and the hospital/IP is closer/faster. Cheers for your hard work and keep it up, but please aim for a less biased viewpoint.

Lastly, I don't think you can say for certain that every single person who died in this incident was a civilian. If they were, why were they openly carrying guns walking around on a street in a war zone? You have no idea if the Reuters photographers had made a deal with local insurgents to shoot some pictures of them in action. I don't know either.

Unfortunate incident of war in which civilians were regrettably killed? Yes.

Murder? No.

Should he have fired on the van? Maybe not, but that's easy to say now when I'm sitting in a living room with access to video that I can push "Replay" and "Pause" and "Rewind" on, written testimony of the incident, a nice comfortable chair and a drink and I'm not worried about small arms fire or taking an RPG up the *** while I'm flying around a war zone wondering if my wife will be a widow tonight.

You say:
"The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured."

Are you certain that the person who issued that statement had seen the video? With a thousand things going on in the air, on the ground, in the cockpit and on the radio the helicopter pilots may not have known. Information doesn't always travel at the speed of light in the military, and some random spokesperson in a media tent won't immediately know what happened on a street corner in a war zone several hundred or thousand miles away.

I took a cursory glance through the ROE pdf you provided and found nothing to indicate that the pilots were not following procedures when they fired on a group of people they saw carrying weapons openly, including what they mistakenly thought were weapons capable of destroying tanks and helicopters. (Please correct me if I'm wrong, and quote the paragraph in question.) FYI posting classfied documents may be illegal, but I'm sure you don't care. I'd advise you to speak to a lawyer or your congressman if you have classified documents that you believe should not be classified.

In conclusion:
War sucks. Innocent people will die. People will make mistakes. Murder? No. Cover-up? Probably not, but that's very hard to prove one way or another. Is it a good thing that you posted it so that people can make up their own minds? Yes, imho. Is there a reasonable doubt as to the intentions of the people who were killed? Yes.

Are we who work in the military perfect? Hell no. And thanks to the efforts of a free, hard-working press we will continue to strive to improve. Just next time, please try to be a little more neutral and unbiased in your reporting.

And for you armchair generals out there, please keep in mind that if you have no military or war or similar experience then you're welcome to offer an opinion, but unless it's very well reasoned and supported by the available evidence - it simply doesn't carry much weight. No disrespect intended.

Very Respectfully,

PL


Missed one thing.

"Although some of the men appear to have been armed, the behavior of nearly everyone was relaxed."

1. It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to tell the difference between a relaxed insurgent/guerrilla fighter/terrorist/local militia-man ready to kill you - and a relaxed civilian with a gun.
2. Terrorists and taleban and mujahedeen and insurgents do not always dress in all black outfits with headscarves and run around like ninjas like they do in movies. They are frequently relaxed, sure of themselves and their surroundings in terrain and neighbourhoods that they know VERY well and have lived and worked in all their lives. This "relaxed" thing has nothing to do with the issue at hand, which is whether or not the pilot should have fired and whether or not there was a cover-up.
3. Just because a civilian carries a gun in a warzone does not mean it's ok to blow him to pieces, all I'm saying is that the issue isn't as nice and simple and clear-cut as the video makes it out to be. You have no idea what the intel was on that part of the town that day, if there was any. You have no idea if they were expecting someone to be setting up ambushes in that area that day.

Not that this minor thing makes a big difference. Two kids were hurt and two reporters who were probably doing nothing wrong (other than hanging out with armed people whom we don't know anything about from the video) were killed, and some probable civilians were killed. Should he have fired or not knowing there were weapons in the crowd? - I don't know. That's for a military judge to decide, if anyone.

From this video you're getting a very one-sided story. The pilots aren't likely to come forward to defend themselves or give their side of the story since that would mean their families will face massive harassment, but if you want wikileaks to be taken as seriously as possible with regards to this type of incidents you should at least show that you've attempted to get input from people who may not agree with how you're presenting a situation.

As far as the people commenting here, I'm expecting that most people who are interested in wikileaks are already fairly liberal and/or biased or prejudiced against the military. Not everyone of course, so feel free to make as good of argument for or against as you can.

Edit2:
I've seen people opine that we pay these pilots too much and train them too much to talk like that, or act like that. Bull****. You go live that life and then I'll recognize your right to second-guess them. Warriors and soldiers talk like warriors and soldiers. You in your comfortable office-chair in your air-conditioning and your cubicles live radically different, unnatural lives. You're the weird ones, who constrain yourself daily and turn your primal instincts and evolutionary traits into the quest and hunt for the perfect sofa-cover, or the nice little post-modernistic coffee table that just ties that corner of the living room together. **** you. You talk weirdly. You're crazy for wanting to live the life you live. If I put a gun to your head every day while you work I can guarantee you'll start to behave differently, too.

We are warriors and soldiers. You are different. Let us be who are and act as a direct expression and result of this training and this lifestyle - and in return I won't judge you for how you do the things you do. Sorry if that sounds arrogant and condescending, but you gotta realize that criticizing fighter pilots and warriors for talking accordingly sounds incredibly naive and simple-minded to me, kinda like expecting homosexuals not to get made fun of in extremely macho working environments like US Navy Deepsea Diving or most parts of the good old U-S-M-to-the-mother****ing-C. It's a different culture. I agree some things need to change, but how we talk is not one of those things.

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