5thstate

Collateral Murder: Analysis of the Reuters/Wikileaks case.

Posted in Uncategorized by 5thstate on April 15, 2010

On the morning of July 12th 2007, Reuters news photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen (age 22) and his driver/assistant Saeed Chmagh (age 40) along with several other Iraqis were killed by an Apache helicopter. Reuters naturally asked for details as to how their employees died.

Image from Baghdad, July 12 2007. Your tax dollars at work. These men had nothing to do with 9/11, but is that really important?

The US Army’s press release for July 12, 2007 operations was as follows:

Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, and the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, both operating in eastern Baghdad under the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, along with their Iraqi counterparts from the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade, 1st Division National Police, were conducting a coordinated raid as part of a planned operation when they were attacked by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Coalition Forces returned fire and called in attack aviation reinforcement.

The New York Times reported on July 13, 2007:

The American military said in a statement late Thursday that 11 people had been killed: nine insurgents and two civilians. According to the statement, American troops were conducting a raid when they were hit by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades. The American troops called in reinforcements and attack helicopters. In the ensuing fight, the statement said, the two Reuters employees and nine insurgents were killed.

“There is no question that coalition forces were clearly engaged in combat operations against a hostile force,” said Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl, a spokesman for the multinational forces in Baghdad.

The military command offered condolences to the families of the civilians who were killed during the combat action, the statement said.

After every military operation ‘after-action’ reports are compiled and collated for intelligence analysis, future training, the development of tactics and the compilation of military histories. Such reports include testimony from the unit personnel involved supported by audio, photographic and video evidence.

The initial press release is impressive in its thorough identification of the military units involved and pathetic in its detailing of the actual operation. The brevity of the initial release may be reasonably excused, but the selected details it does provide about what happened are inaccurate.

The later statement offers a little more detail such as acknowledging the Reuters reporters being killed, but as the NY Times reported-it there was no mention of the injured children and spokesman Lt. Col. Scott Bleichwehl was clearly defensive about the circumstances that resulted in the civilian deaths. Either the Lt. Col was  unqualified to be so adamant because he hadn’t seen any of the after-action reports, or the after action reports were incomplete or inaccurate, or the Lt. Colonel was lying.

According to Elizabeth Bumiller’s column in the Middle East Section of the NY Times  of April 5, 2010, Reuters was privately shown the gun camera footage two weeks after the incident but were denied a copy of it. Not surprisingly Reuters filed a FOIA request for the video record and any other pertinent documentation shortly afterward.  Over two and half years later, those requests apparently remain unfulfilled.

Bumiller also reported that “The American military in Baghdad investigated the episode and concluded that the forces involved had no reason to know that there were Reuters employees in the group. No disciplinary action was taken.”

Indeed they did not, but who employed them and in what capacity is irrelevant. the Apache gunner could see that the two men were together (and dressed identically and carrying camera bags) and that neither was armed. The helicopter crew killed eight other unarmed men without knowing who employed them either.

According to a redacted report released by the Defense Department late on April 5th, 2010, apparently in reaction to the web-posting of the Wikileaks video, the US military complained :

The Reuters employees made no effort to visibly display their status as press or media representatives and their familiar behavior with, and close proximity to, the armed insurgents and their furtive attempts to photograph the coalition ground forces made them appear as hostile combatants to the Apaches that engaged them.

This complaint is not only ripe with irrelevance it is also steeped in insulting stupidity.The Reuters employees had no opportunity to display their press credentials to the helicopter crew observing them from one quarter of a mile away and no reason to do so. The “attempt” to photograph coalition ground forces “furtively” is a simple precaution to take in an active combat zone. Apparently various officers within the Pentagon who wrote and approved of the release of this nonsense think that these arguments are a valid defense of the charges of murder.

During all the years that the US had been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan the US Army has consistently and immediately denied any fault on their part in attention-getting instances of “collateral damage” and vigorously obstructed practically every attempt at subsequent independent investigation. The US Military had also been consistent in thoroughly denying culpability in friendly-fire incidents involving US fire on British allies, and had, by 2007, also famously lied about the death of Pat Tillman, faked the ‘rescue’ of Jessica Lynch and covered-up the Haditha incident which involved rape and mass-murder.

When the Pentagon’s explanations of “collateral damage” incidents fail to satisfy evidence and reason, it has been the case time after time that only after persistent independent inquiry into discrepancies in the US military’s representations in relation to evidence that responsibility has then been commonly placed on “the fog of war”—in other words, the official narrative has been usually forcibly altered from adamant denial of responsibility via the false identification of some ‘guilty’ party, to admission of a innocent “mistake” resulting from unpredictable circumstances and reactions which the proven liars then claim it is impossible to attach any specific responsibility at all.

Though the US Military makes much of integrity, honor and humanitarian efforts in its recruitment commercials it has been clearly and repeatedly demonstrated in Iraq (and also in Afghanistan) that from generals of the US Army and the Marines to their lowest-ranks there are directly linked chains of military personnel that exhibit none of these desirable qualities.

What is the US Military Doing in Iraq Anyway?

The nation of Iraq was being used as an experiment in the calculated imposition of conservative Republican military, social and economic ideologies through the application of intimidation and violence (in-short, imperialism).

One only need read the testimonies from just a few Iraq veterans to appreciate that a war that began on lies was continued on lies. The US military’s real task was not to ‘liberate’ the Iraqis from an oppressive regime but simply to take control of Iraq for the benefit of the Bush administration and its cronies who deemed it’s control by the US to be an accessible key to America’s supremacy in global politics and economics for the next one-hundred years—as described and promoted by the Project for the New American Century.

The one brief spark of perverse realism in the PNAC’ neo-conservatives’  fantastic agenda was that even those Iraqis that would benefit from the deposing of Hussein’s regime were bound to take issue with a prolonged and pervasive, uninvited, armed US authority, despite public declarations that American forces would be regarded as “liberators” and would be “greeted with flowers and candy” .  In private the architects of Operation Iraqi Freedom were not counting on local goodwill to facilitate their plans but expected opposition–though not enough to be a problem for the finest military in the world.

After the events of 9/11/2001 the Bush administration promoted the theory that it was “a lack of imagination” rather than criminal negligence of data and expert advice that allowed the murder of nearly three thousand civilians in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Secretary of State Powell, National Security Adviser Rice and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld campaigned to convince the American public and the world that Al Qaeda’s attack had been enabled by Saddam Hussein and that it was but a prelude to even greater violence planned by Saddam Hussein and fueled and financed by the resources of the state he controlled with an iron fist, posing an imminent threat to the whole world. They all insisted we imagine a world where ”the smoking gun” might become “a mushroom cloud”—an image that was repeated thousands of times by every media outlet for months—and to trust them that the primary source of such threats was Iraq, or be branded a traitor and terrorist-sympathizer for expressing any doubt.

Avoiding the Issue and Defending the Indefensible

The publishing of the attack-helicopter footage on YouTube titled “Collateral Murder” has generated a fair amount of discussion on TV and radio news programs. But the discussions I’ve seen and heard revolve around “the issue” and not the specific content of the footage. Furthermore in such discussions on TV I haven’t seen the attack sequences shown even though gun camera footage from other conflicts has been willingly and widely shown many times before. There isn’t even any observable blood in the footage—any episode of ‘24’ is more ‘graphic’ than this video, so why so shy? It could be because to an average viewer what they’d see they’d see as murder plain and simple, even if viewed with the contextual footage before and after the killings themselves—because the ‘context’ does nothing to mitigate the Apaches deadly actions.

Whilst much of the media  is walking softly on this story, presumably not wishing to jeopardize their professional relationships with the US military and various political sources but at least still airing and asking some of the questions the footage engenders, there are of course defenders in the press too and it comes as no surprise that Bill Roggio of the Weekly Standard (‘Bloody’ Bill Kristol’s money-losing neoconservative news-magazine) comes to the US military’s defense with a combination of straw-man arguments, sneering indignation and callous misdirection:

Where the US Army’s press-release regarding that day’s operations states that “Soldiers […] were conducting a coordinated raid as part of a planned operation when they were attacked by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades [and] Coalition Forces returned fire and called in attack aviation reinforcement”, Bill Roggio baldly and boldly claims “There is nothing in that video that is inconsistent with the military’s report. What you see is the air weapons team engaging armed men”. To Roggio’s credit he embeds the Wikileaks video in his article which, if a reader of average intelligence chooses to watch it, will see actually undermines his claim. (I’ve found this to be a common trait over the years amongst right-wingers who actually provide legitimate links to support their comments at Think Progress—they seem to have a consistent knack of failing to fully read and comprehend the sources they choose to rely-on to make their argument).

Roggio conflates the description in the press-release with the video of a single ‘engagement’ as concurrent with a very close larger engagement where gunfire was exchanged, and equates “armed” with “attacked”.  The Apache helicopter in question wasn’t “called in” to provide a counter attack, instead the aircrew initiated the attack and were given permission to attack based only on their simple observation of “armed men”. Not only do the Iraqis in the video attack no-one, they show absolutely no intention of attacking anyone and of course the press-release was provided on the very sound assumption that no-one would ever see the gun camera footage. Furthermore the attack is conducted not just against armed men, but unarmed men as well, and there is a second distinct attack against unarmed civilians trying to help a wounded unarmed man (Saeed) who survived the original attack—with permission to fire being given based on minimal yet exaggerated information from the Apache crew which made no mention of them or anyone else coming under fire or any preparation to fire on the helicopter or other forces.

Roggio dismisses the injuring of the children (whose father has been killed right beside them) by plagiarizing (practically verbatim) a remark made by one of the Apache crew; “who drives their kids into the middle of a war zone anyway?”—disregarding the fact that all of Baghdad is a war zone.

Roggio concludes “To describe the attack you see in the video as “murder” is a sensationalist gimmick that succeeded in driving tons of media attention and traffic to Wikileaks’ website.”, implying that Wikileaks’ purpose is to smear the US military for profit and self-serving attention— ignoring the fact that the footage had to have been made accessible by someone (or several people) within the US military itself.

Clearly the person or people within the US military who provided the video to Wikileaks disagree(s) with Bill Roggio that the killings were justified, as does Specialist Josh Steiber of the 1st Infantry Division who at the time of the incident was based at Rustimayah (the US base from which the operations that day were conducted). “A lot of my friends are in that video,” says Stieber. “After watching the video, I would definitely say that that is, nine times out of ten, the way things ended up. Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are.”

Though Spc. Stieber’s words actually support one point of Roggio’s, that “there is no indication that the U.S. military weapons crew that fired on this group of armed men violated the military’s Rules of Engagement” (note Roggio’s mendacious use of “armed men” which is not the issue here), Roggio’s moral position is utterly undermined as Stieber explains that the ROEs used in Iraq in this instance (and since the very start) offer no practical constraints at all—which of course makes them in violation of the Geneva convention which, as a foreign treaty signed by the US, makes them also a violation of the US Military Code of Justice and Federal law.

Thus far, like many  others, I have only argued about the arguments that refer to the evidence. Now let’s look at the evidence itself, how it develops and what issues it specifically raises.

Note: My audio card failed so I’ve been unable to attribute every single recorded comment by ear and have had to rely on the transcript subtitles, but most of the dialog can still be attributed by context and the use of call signs. I’ve substituted “chatter” where communications appear insignificant and impossible to reasonably interpret. Where I’m unsure of attribution, I have been cautious or refrained from attribution entirely.

Autopsy of a Mass Murder

As the unedited WikiLeaks video begins the Apache helicopter, “Crazyhorse One-Eight”, has its TADS (Target Acquisition Designation Sight) pointing at a mosque, a practical landmark.

0:41 I got a black vehicle under target. It’s arriving right to the north of the Mosque

0:47 Moving south by the mosque dome. Down that road.

0:52/55 Okay, we got a target fifteen coming at you. It’s a guy with a weapon.

The above appears to come from a helicopter other than the one whose video we are watching.

0:58 A snap zoom towards the mosque shows no evident personnel or movement as far as I can see.

1:24 See all those people standing down there?

1:28 The TADS, still in wide-angle mode, is centered just above a collection of trucks at the eastern end of the parking lot. The range at this point is 1300 feet. Obviously “down there” is the view from a helicopter but I don’t know which one. On the YouTube video at 480 pixels there are some blobs scattered on the road. I can’t tell what they are but obviously the Apache crew can—they are indeed people as the snap zoom is about to reveal.

Note: Whilst I have the luxury of seeing what the TADS saw in comfort and without any pressure, the image resolution in the posted video must be considerably degraded from the original as at this point where I can only see blobs, the helicopter crew can distinguish them easily people. (I can see what must be a person moving across the parking lot, but no one else.) The helicopter crew’s visual acuity and camera optics are obviously superior to mine, so any confusion the YouTube viewer may have about visual details is not going to be shared by the helicopter crew—their vision is much more clear and precise.

1:30 Stay firm.

The TADS is snap-zoomed in. A group of five men walking eastwards down the street is under the crosshairs. Another man trails some 10 yards behind. Four men are wandering aimlessly at the mouth of an alley to the north, 10 yards away. At least six men are near a flatbed trailer about 10-12 yards from the target group.

Namir (dark trousers) walking lower right with one man. Saeed (dark trousers) on the right of crosshairs.

1:34 Yeah, roger. I just estimate there’s probably about twenty of them.

It’s a good estimate, but four “of them” (those at the alley) appear to have no interest or connection with the rest and are wandering away.

One member of the target group goes to join those at the alley. The target group is now 4 men, the larger group by the trailer appear to number eight, with two sitting on a scooter. Some are moving towards the target group, one is moving away and four are paying no attention to the approaching target group.

1:39 There’s one, yeah. Oh yeah

The man who had been partially obscured by the back-plate of the flatbed trailer is now fully visible as he turns to accompany Saaed who is trailing Namir by a about 3-4 yards. If the helicopter crew had spotted a weapon (going by the above remark) then I certainly couldn’t see it.

Namir and Saeed, wearing white (?) long sleeved shirts and dark pants are obviously carrying shoulder bags with straps wider than those used on weapons. Their movements and posture should be recognizable to anyone who has carried a camera-bag themselves or seen a professional photographer in the field.

1:44 A man standing nearer the camera, very close to the trailer, with the scooter behind him, turns and may, to my eye, have a shoulder-slung weapon.

1:46 That’s a weapon .Yeah.

This remark may refer to a second weapon being spotted, which I could see was clearly an RPG being held, vertically, with one end on the ground, by a man who has stayed right next to the trailer—the weapon is too long and thick to be a rifle or RPD light machine gun. If the reference is to the RPG the Apache crew, with superior vision than mine, fail or can’t be bothered to identify it as such, which is odd as the RPG is a practical threat to a helicopter, even at a range of 1300 feet/425 yards (though 300 yards is a more reliable range for accuracy and effectiveness).

1: 47 Hotel Two-Six; [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight

1:48/2:00 The Apache gunship ‘Crazyhorse One Eight’ is now specifically tracking not the armed man or men, but the photographer Namir and his assistant Saeed.

2:01 Have individuals with weapons.

2:03 He’s got a weapon too.

A this point the TADS camera has tilted up and away from the photographers (who are now obscured by walls and buildings) to track a group of three men proceeding past the end of the flat bed trailer. It is clear that two of them have weapons.

2:11 Have five to six individuals with AK-47s. Request permission to engage.

To a listener unable to see the scene directly, what does this mean? Does each individual have an AK-47? We can see that’s not true. The failure to mention the RPG that has been plainly visible via the TADS for fifteen seconds now is a remarkable omission.

Real RPG that Apache crew fails to notice, being held at angle from the ground by the nearer man of the two men together, upper frame. The other of these two has an AK-47. .

I wonder if the number of weapons that are implied, (five to six) is a threshold for approval of an engagement request? After-all, they counted two weapons earlier and didn’t immediately request engagement permission, and none of the men have acted in an aggressive or suspicious way or appear likely to do so. The aircrew has the time to describe explicitly the number of men who have weapons, their type, and how the men are acting, but they provide no such information. Why? Does it not matter? Is such information irrelevant regarding the ROE (Rules of Engangement)?

2:16 Roger that

2:17 Uh, we have no personnel east of our position.

2.19 So uh, you are free to engage. Over

2:22 The ammo indicator appears, showing 252 rounds available.

The situation thus far: An attack helicopter has reported up the chain of command ONLY that five to six individuals have AK-47s and on this information alone the permission to kill them is given.

The actual number of weapons is just two—one AK-47 and one (mysteriously disregarded) RPG with one grenade round. There is no mention of the targets’ actual behavior or activities, of the two obvious photographers, nor of these men’s proximity to any US soldiers.

If the Apache crew were instead acting as scouts ahead of a foot patrol and returned to report such minimal information, they would likely be punished for wasting time and risking lives. ; but relatively safe in their armored vehicle in the sky the Apache crew can apparently do whatever the hell they want—and what they want is to kill some people who aren’t threatening them, or anyone else because apparently Iraqis don’t deserve the right to bear arms in their own invaded and occupied country.

2:27 I’m gonna…I can’t get ‘em now because they’re behind that building.

Now the RPG carrier, whose weapon had been clearly visible for 15 seconds but has yet to be identified as such, wanders over to a wall between him and the helicopter. If he had any interest in attacking the helicopter the wall would be obvious cover but he’s shown no sign of having spotted the Apache (about 1250 feet/400 yards distant) and as he reaches the wall he appears to then stoop, as though he were laying the RPG down.

2:31 As the RPG carrier is obscured by his proximity to the wall the TADS camera rapidly pans left to the intersection about 60 feet away in about 1 second. A third man across the street, left of frame, appears to have an AK slung behind his shoulder but is immediately excluded from the frame as the cameras crosshairs fix on the street corner. We see two men now at the intersection corner, one crouched low and the other standing up, about three yards behind and south there is a third man.

2:32 Um, hey Bushmaster element…

2:34 He’s got an RPG!

2.35 Alright we got a guy with an RPG.

2:36 I’m gonna fire.

This is the first remark the crew has made about an RPG and it’s horribly wrong. The RPG carrier seen earlier could not have covered the 60 feet from where we last saw him in the middle of the block at the wall, to the corner, in one second.

The ‘RPG’ at the corner clearly ISN’T an RPG. A loaded RPG would show a distinctive pointed end, the end of this ‘RPG’ is blunt, so if it were an RPG it wouldn’t be loaded.

Namir holding his camera w/telephoto, peering up the street. The Apache crew have a much clearer view than this still depicts. Namir's lens is considerably different from an RPG, especially to a trained eye. .


2:39 Okay. No, hold on. Let’s come around.

2:41 Behind buildings right now from our point of view….Okay we’re going to come around.

At precisely this point ‘RPG–man’ shifts his weight, leaning further out from the wall. The whole of the ‘weapon’ is clearly visible—it is a camera with a 300 or 400mm telephoto lens (less than two feet long) which is a war photographer’s ‘best friend’ in covering active combat operations. Though the Apache crew might be forgiven for not being able to identify the lens so precisely, it obviously ISN’T an RPG, in its dimensions, shape and the way it is being held. Remember, the observer/gunner should be concentrated only on the ‘RPG’ and his visual acuity is much higher than the YouTube images. It should be clear that the “RPG’ is in fact a camera.

2:43 Hotel Two-Six. Have eyes on individual with RPG. Getting ready to fire. We won’t…

Hotel Two Six seems to be the Apache’s commanding unit, the one that gave the okay to kill. The Apache gunner is reporting a mistake, not what’s actually there.

2:49 Yeah we had a guy shooting and now he’s behind the building.

2:50 Goddamn it.

2:52 Uh, negative, he was right in front of the Brad.

Clearly someone else had spotted a real RPG at practically the same time the Apache made its claim. There is no Bradley APC that the Apache’s ‘RPG’ was “right in front” of. There are clearly two different threats being described, at two different locations.

With the Apache’s mistaken ‘RPG’ out of sight and the other RPG obviously being different and elsewhere, why doesn’t the Apache crew warn the soldiers on the ground of their own (mistaken) target? Why don’t the ground troops ask the Apache who they are talking about and where their ‘RPG’ is actually located?

2:56 Uh, about there one ’o clock.

The TADS has been panned to roughly the center of the building block. A mans head is visible above the roof wall.

2:59 Haven’t seen anything since then

I have no idea what that means.

3:00 Just fu(kin’ once you get on ‘em. Open up on ‘em.

3:02 As the Apache continues to circle the increasing angle reveals two more men, one gesturing to someone down the street in the direction of the corner where the Apache misidentified the photographer’s camera lens. A small tree begins to obscure the small group of three as the turn continues.

The man coming from the corner doesn’t appear to be carrying an RPG, judging by his movements. He joins several of the observed men who are gathered by wall, but not hard up against it as though looking for cover. They all obviously have no interest in the Apache, and therefore must assume that the Apache will have no interest in them. A small tree by the wall obscures the actual size of the group

3:07 You’re clear. Alright, firing

Two more men have ‘appeared’, no longer obscured by the tree. As the Apache continues to turn the rest of the group becomes visible. It appears there are five or six men gathered around one, the apparent seventh or eighth is a yard away from the group and further into the street, using his phone. The gunner isn’t firing yet.

3:11 Let me know when you’ve got them. Let’s shoot.

There are now ten men in the frame. The huddle begins to break up, a couple of men moving with the photographer. There is no sign of an RPG.

3:13/16 Light ‘em all up. Come on, fire.

One man is leaving the frame to the right. The Apache gunner could begin shooting but waits. He can afford to wait as the men are still quite unhurried. As the group separates somewhat the original RPG carrier can be seen closest to the wall, holding his RPG vertically in front of him, nonchalantly resting one end on the ground. One man is leaving the frame to the right but the rest are still gathered together. .

3:18 With 252 rounds available the gunner opens fire with the M-230 from a range of about 1250 feet (about ¼ mile). Each M789 shell is 1-1/8 inches in diameter and is not just a ‘slug’ of metal but an explosive armor penetrator that travels at about ½ a mile per second, fired at a rate of 10 rounds a second.

Most of the group disappears in explosive clouds of smoke and dust.

3:20 Keep shooting, keep shooting.

Namir, who had already been on the perimeter of the group races away across the street and over a patch of rubble. The Apache gunner tracks him, the shells exploding behind him and around him.

At 3:22 Namir either trips or is knocked down by the percussion or shrapnel or all three. The Apache keeps firing; the scene is just dust and explosions.

3:30/32 Hotel, Bushmaster Two-Six. Bushmaster Two-Six, we need to move, time now.

The Apache has expended 80 rounds in 8 seconds.

3: 33 All right, we just engaged all eight individuals. Come on, fire!

The TADS camera zooms out for a wider view as smoke and dust still billow.

3:36 Yeah we see two birds and we’re still fire.

Someone who was apparently further up the street (west) some yards away from the group seems to peer for a second into the smoke, then turns and runs the other way. He is one of the two “birds”, but he surely can’t be a survivor of the original attack?

3:42 Two-Six, this is Two-Two six, we’re mobile. Oops I’m sorry, what’s going on?

The man trying to escape the scene is obliterated with a burst of cannon fire.

3:43 Goddamn it, Kyle, (a South Park reference) alright, hahaha, I hit ‘em.

3:53/4 Alright, you’re clear. I’m just trying to find targets again.

The dust has cleared, there’s no apparent movement on the street. All the original targets are visible. There are no more targets to find.

4:04 Got a bunch of bodies laying there.

Two of these men were armed --2nd amendment anyone?--but none of them showed any intention of using their weapons. They didm't even attempt to look at the Humvee a few hundred yards away that Namir tried to photograph from the corner of the street (out of frame to the right)

The initial strike appears to have killed 7 men instantly. As the Apache circles the man who was running behind Namir can be seen lying in the street and trying to crawl away.

4:09/13 Yeah we got one guy crawling around down there…but uh you know, we got, we definitely got something.

4:15 We’re shooting some more.

More rounds hit the wounded man. The ammo counter now reads 170.

4:20 Hey, you shoot, I’ll talk.

4:29 The Apache calls Hotel Two-Six and informs them that they are “currently engaging approximately eight individuals, uh KIA, RPGs and AK47s.” Crazyhorse One Eight is lying about the weaponry again, talking of multiple RPG and AK when in fact there are only one of each.

4: 55/5:13 Hotel two Six; Crazyhorse One Eight, Oh yeah look at those dead bastards….Nice….Good shooting…Thank You

5:34 Bushmaster Seven requests the location of the bodies (stated as Mike Bravo 54588617).

Circling, they see Saeed is conscious, propping himself up on an elbow and his left hip, trying to move his legs. He is now the only survivor of the attack. ‘Bushmaster Seven’ is on its way to the scene. Crazyhorse says they won’t shoot anymore. Saeed bends his right leg and tries using it. His left leg seems useless.

Saeed struggles to move, his left leg is useless. The apache crew is urging him to pick up a weapon so they can shoot him again.

6:25/6 He’s getting up. Maybe he has a weapon down in his hand?

They had already shot Saeed and killed the other unarmed men, I wonder why they need a weapon as an excuse to finish him off? They’d just killed a wounded survivor about two minutes earlier.

6:28 No I haven’t seen one yet.

Saeed is about 45 feet from the pile of bodies from the initial attack. Two of those now-dead men had the only two weapons seen. Does this Apache crew seriously expect the wounded Saeed to crawl 45 feet, find one of the weapons and then use it on someone? In the 30 seconds since they noticed him he hasn’t even managed to move four inches.

6:29 I see you guys got that guy crawling right now on that curb

So someone is watching a live feed from the Apache or the other helicopter is recording the same scene.

6:32 Yeah I got him. I put two rounds near him and you guys were shooting over there too, so we’ll see.

Saeed is still struggling to move himself.

6:39/56 Chatter between Bushmaster Seven and Hotel Two-Seven

6:58 Come on buddy. All you gotta do is pick-up a weapon.

It has take Saeed half a minute just to get himself up on one knee. If he had a pistol, or could reach a weapon, who would he shoot? There’s no one else there. Crazyhorse One-Eight is itching to shoot him. It seems a ridiculous contrivance on their part to conform to the ostensible spirit of the ROE (and the public protestations of the generals that the US military makes “every effort” to minimize civilian casualties) when they’ve already killed eight unarmed men with the permission of their superiors.

7:10 Bushmaster Five (one of the ground units) calls for directions to the location.

7:18/26 This is (Hotel) Two Six, roger I’ll pop flares. We also have one individual moving. We’re looking for weapons. If we see a weapon, we’re gonna engage.

It would appear that Hotel Two–Six is another Apache? I wonder if the camera footage is also being transmitted to headquarters as a live feed? The circling places Saeed out of sight behind the wall for a few seconds and the camera is switched to wide angle. The cross hairs are still trained on Saeed’s location.

7:31/6 Yeah Bushmaster, we have a van that’s approaching and picking up the bodies

This is not visible in Crazyhorse’s camera. Is the van being spotted by Hotel Two-Six? A man runs into frame from the bottom right (from the west) towards Saeed. For some reason the camera tilts up to look slightly east, leaving Saeed and the newcomer out of frame

7:36 Where’s that van at?

7:37 Right down there by the bodies.

7:40 Okay, yeah. Come on fire!

The van has now appeared from the west. If it were “picking up bodies” it would have only picked up one—the “bird” that had looked into the smoke and then ran away west (at 3:42) and was presumably killed as he’s been ignored in favor of Saeed.

7:41/7 Bushmaster; Crazyhorse. We have individuals going to the scene, looks like possibly uh picking up bodies and weapons.

Crazyhorse is playing with the truth again. The van is stopping by Saeed, not the group where the two weapons can be found. The van obscures Saeed and the pedestrian who is with him as the Apache continues to circle.

7:48 Let me engage.

Another man runs into frame from the west.

7:51 Can I shoot?

The van driver is now running around the front of the van.

7:51 Roger. Break.(Confirming receipt of request to shoot, not yet providing permission)

7.55 The driver is opening the van’s sliding side door.

7:56 Uh Crazyhorse One-Eight request permission to uh engage.

7:59 Picking up the wounded?

8.01 Yeah, we’re trying to get permission to engage.

The two pedestrians and the driver are now trying to pick Saeed up. There’s movement at the passenger seat, two smaller figures. One appears to be in the seat, the other behind it and leaning forward.

8:06 Come on, let us shoot!

8:08 Bushmaster; Crazyhorse One-Eight.

8:12 They’re taking him.

The men have Saeed by the legs and under the arms.

8:16 Bushmaster; Crazyhorse One-Eight.

8:19 This is Bushmaster Seven, go ahead.

Saeed has been dragged around to the sliding door side of the van.

8:23 Roger. We have a black SUV-uh Bongo truck picking up the bodies.

Saeed is being bundled into the van by the two pedestrians. And it’s just his body being picked up at this point, not “the bodies”. The van driver is back in the driver’s seat.

8:26 Request permission to engage.

08:27 Fuck.

“Fuck?” Is that because Crazyhorse is now looking directly into the front of the van and can see the two children? Or is it because it’s taking too long for the permission to engage?

8:31/2 This is Bushmaster Seven, roger. This is Bushmaster Seven, roger. Engage.

The van begins to turn slowly.

8:35 One-Eight, engage. (Crazyhorse confirming they have received permission to engage).

8:36 Clear.

The TADS crosshairs are at the dead center of the van. There are 170 rounds available; the range is around 860 feet.

8:37 Come on!

One of the two pedestrians is clearly outside the truck as it tries to pull away, the other man is obscured or inside.

8.38 The first shells explode about three feet in front of the van.


8.39 The two pedestrians are ducking and running from behind the van as more shells overshoot the van and burst behind and beside them. 8:40 The two men have run almost out of frame, the van appears to have stopped though it apparently hasn’t been directly hit. The driver may be in shock.

8:41 The camera pans with the running men as they fall behind a wall

8.42 Clear.

8.43 Shells rake the wall, exploding around the two men.

8:45 We’re engaging

The van appears to be quickly backing up into the wall but then is hurled around by more shells exploding around it. Forty shells have now been fired in the last 7 seconds.

8:47 The van is now taking direct hits.

8:49/50 Coming around. Clear. Roger. Trying to uh…

A man in dark trousers is seen lying face down about twelve feet in front of the van. A shell blasts one of his legs. He may be one of the two who had run to the wall, and then tried to run away across the street as the wall was being pounded. It isn’t the driver because his trousers are white. Another twenty rounds have been fired in the last 5 seconds.

8:53 Smoke and dust obscure the scene

8:56 Clear.

8:59 I hear ’em co—, I lost ’em in the dust. I got ’em.

9:00 The camera switches to wide angle. The smoke is now drifting west, revealing the van once again

9:04 I’m firing.

Who is firing? Not the Apache at the moment.

9:05 This is Bushmaster Forty got any BDA on that truck. Over.

9:09/10 You’re clear. This is ah Crazyhorse. Stand by

9.11 I can’t shoot for some reason.

The gunner has an azimuth limit warning.

9:14 Go ahead. I think the van’s disabled.

Obviously.

9:17 Go ahead and shoot it.

9:18 I got an azimuth limit for some reason

9:19 The gunner fires off another 60 rounds at the clearly disabled van. He hasn’t zoomed in to see if anyone is still alive.

9:40 All right, Bushmaster [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight.

9:45 A vehicle appears to be disabled.

9:47 There were approximately four to five individuals in vehicle moving bodies.

Wrong. They were moving one wounded man, not “bodies”. No mention of the children.

9:54 Directions to the site being given to Bradley APCs

9:59 No more shooting.

10:03 Crazyhorse; this is Bushmaster Four. We’re moving a dismounted element straight south through the Bradleys.

The Apache keeps circling as the ground forces are directed through the streets.

10:03 [Crazyhorse] Should have a van in the middle of the road with about twelve to fifteen bodies.

10:34 Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield!

The camera is now zoomed in. There’s a big hole in the glass.

10:37 Ha ha!

After the van has been shot-at by 100 shells. Saeed is dead in the street. The driver is dead, his children have shrapnel and stomach wounds. Two other men are also dead from this unprovoked attack.

10:40 All right. There were uh approximately four to five individuals in that truck, so I’m counting about twelve to fifteen.

Of which how many were armed and aggressive?

10:48 I would say that’s a fairly accurate assessment so far.

10:49 Roger that.

The Apache keeps circling whilst the ground troops are still making their way to the scene. There has been no visible movement from anyone in the last 3 minutes. The area is deserted.

11:34 Hey yeah, roger, be advised, there were some guys popping out with AKs behind that dirt pile break.

This from the ground forces?

11:39 We also took some RPGs off, uh, earlier, so just uh make sure your men keep your eyes open.

Ground chatter again? The other helicopter?

11:42 The camera briefly zooms onto Namirs body lying in the rubble.

11:54 Yeah Two-Six; [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight.

12:00 Uh, location I have about twelve to fifteen dead bodies.

12:04 Uh, where else are we taking fire from?

12:10 Currently we’re not being engaged, ah, but just south of that location. Break.

South is to the camera’s left. The van is pointing south.

12:11 A woman has come out of the side street west of the van and is walking away west with her child, past the dead body of “the bird” who was killed at 3:26.

12:30 Crazyhorse reduces altitude—the range indicator changes from 590 to 450.

12:34 Six; this is four. We’re headed to the area where Crazyhorse engaged.

12:50 Bushmaster Six; this is Hotel Two-Six.

12:48 Request to go to the south to our original BP so if you flushed them to the south we will be there to uh intercept over.

13:00 Hey this is Bushmaster Seven; we’re coming up on B… on the ass end of the Brads .

13:16 Hey uh, Bushmaster Element; this is Copperhead One-Six break.

13:20 We’re moving in the vicinity of the engagement area and looks like we’ve got some slight movement from ah, the ah van that was engaged.

13:27 Looks like a kid. Over.

13:33 This is Bushmaster Seven, roger. Uh, we’re about a hundred meters behind you.

13:39 Got that big pile, to the right? / Roger, you gonna pull in here?

13:41 Do you want me to push stuff so you can, uh, get clear of it? / Right on the corner?

13:44 What’s that? / Got that big pile of bodies to the right, on the corner?

13:47 Yeah, right here./ We got a dismounted infantry and vehicles, over.

13:52 Again, roger. / And clear.

The camera is zoomed in on the pile of dead bodies. Why? They aren’t doing anything, obviously.

13:56 A Bradley enters the frame from the east, stops at the intersection and aims north, just as Namir had done with his camera.

14:23 Hotel two-six; are you uh at this grid over?

14:27 Yeah I wanted to get you around so you didn’t just get that one dude to scare them all away.

14 31 Yeah. It worked out pretty good. I didn’t want those fuckers to run away and scatter.

14:35 Yeah.

14:36 Bushmaster Six; Hotel Two-Six. Roger, we linked up with our two element, they are all mounted up in our trucks. Break.

Ground troops are now coming into the area from the east, trotting up from behind the Bradley

14:44 We moved south so that we could ah possibly intercept personnel being flushed south. So we are vicinity Fifth Street. And ah [unclear] Gadins. Over

14:56 A soldier reaches the dead bodies

14:59 Bring the trucks in; cordon this area off.

15:01 Can we move the Bradley forward so we can bring trucks in and cordon off this area? If the Bradleys could take the south cordon, that could help out a lot.

The rest of the patrol move along the street, quickly but carefully.

15:14 Bushmaster or Element. Which Element called in Crazyhorse to engage the eight-elem- eight-men team on top of a roof.

15:23 Bushmaster Six; this is Hotel Two-Six. Uh, I believe that was me.

When did that happen? Before the video started? Hotel Two-Six never called Crazyhorse to engage anyone on a roof, or anywhere.

15:28 They uh had AK-47s and were to our east, so, where we were taking small arms fire. Over.

The camera is now zoomed-in on the van. One soldier takes a position by the driver’s door, three move past it and one moves around to the passenger side and looks in. Then the camera zooms out.

15:42 Hotel [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight.

15:47 Crazyhorse One-Eight; this is Hotel Two-Six.

15:50 Yeah Two-Six. [this is] One-Eight I just also wanted to make sure you knew that we had a guy with an RPG cropping round the corner getting ready to fire on your location. That’s why we ah, requested permission to engage.

Bullshit. Here’s what actually happened:

At 1:39 “There’s one, yeah. Oh yeah”

At 1:46 “That’s a weapon .Yeah.”

At 2:01 “Have individuals with weapons.”

At 2:03 “He’s got a weapon too.”

At 2:11 “Have five to six individuals with AK-47’s. Request permission to engage”

At 2.19 “So uh, you are free to engage. Over. ”

No mention of an RPG, only specific mention of AK-47s in the request to engage, for which permission was given.

Why is Crazyhorse mistaken or lying?

Is it possible they never actually noticed the actual RPG which was plainly visible for at least 15 seconds?

After badly misidentifying Namir’s camera as an RPG did the Apache crew notice as the group split up that Namir didn’t have an RPG at that point? Having missed the real RPG in plain sight once, did the gunner also miss seeing the real RPG in the group, when it was harder to spot?

Why was the gunner spending so much time focused on all the dead bodies afterwards when by rights he should have been scanning for other threats in the area?

Was he actually still looking for his bogus RPG (@ 2:34 “He’s got an RPG!”) supposedly carried by Namir who, just before the gunner pulled the trigger on the group, was clearly not carrying an RPG? The gunner wouldn’t be able to find the real RPG afterwards if it was buried by the bodies of the men he’d massacred (which is where it would have to be.).

What does the Army do with the dead bodies? If they let the Iraqi Police deal with them, would they report finding an RPG to the Army? Why would they bother? The US Army would surely have already searched for weapons.

16:02. Ok, roger that. Tango mike.

16:06 Hotel Two-Six; do you understand me, over?

The camera is zoomed in now on soldiers moving around the van.

16: 13 I did not copy last, uh, you got stepped on. Say again please?

16:19 Two Soldiers have gone through the gate behind the van and into a court yard. A single soldier walks around the front of the van and briefly peers into the passenger side

16:22 They cordoned off the building that the helicopters killed the personnel on.

16:27 Don’t go anywhere else. We need to cordon off that building so we can get on top of the roof and SSC (secure and clear?) the building. Over.

The soldier that looked into the van has walked away towards the Bradley. The camera changes to wide angle. The soldier is going back to the van, to the driver’s side.

16:34 Hotel Two-Six; [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight.

16:39 This is Hotel Two-Six

16:40 Hey, whoever was talking about rooftops, know that all the personnel we engaged were ground level. I say again ground level

Crazyhorse is correcting what Hotel Two-Six said a minute and a half earlier (@ 15:23). Neither Hotel Two–Six nor the Apache crew have their information straight, despite all the communication between them.

16:50 Roger I copy ground level. Over.

16:52 One-Eight roger

16:54 Can I get a grid to that one more time please?

16:57 Target twenty. / Roger.

17:01 Two soldiers are approaching the van from the east.

17:02 You want me to take over talking to them? / S’alright.

17:09 Seven-Six Romeo Over.

17:11 Roger, I’ve got uh eleven Iraqi KIAs. One small child wounded. Over.

No mention of the other child? Why not? Because you think the he’s dead so he’s not worth mentioning?

17:19 Roger. Ah damn. Oh well.

Interesting. Is that the same kid Copper Head One–Six reported moving about four minutes ago (@13.27)? The child that a soldier briefly looked at about two-minutes ago? (@ 15:28)? The child that another soldier briefly looked-at one minute ago (@ 16:19)? Oh well. Shit happens. You can’t get upset about it otherwise you’d never make it through the day. Maybe someone should ask permission to engage and put her out of her misery—after all that’s what Crazyhorse did earlier to Saeed and another man.

17:25 Roger, we need, we need a uh to evac this child. Ah, she’s got a uh, she’s got a wound to the belly.

17:32 I can’t do anything here. She needs to get evaced, over.

17:39 Bushmaster Seven, Bushmaster Seven; this is Bushmaster Six-Romeo. We need your location over.

17:46 Roger, we’re at the location where Crazyhorse engaged the RPG fire, break.

Wrong, but not your fault. You’re just going-with the lies you heard from Hotel-Six and Crazyhorse.

17:58 Grid five-four-five-eight.

18:07 Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle. / That’s right.

Damn straight. It’s their fault they didn’t have the sense to not get their country illegally invaded and their city occupied based on George Bush’s and the Neoconservatives’ wet dreams. It’s their fault the US government and the US Army didn’t have clue-one about what they were doing. It’s their fault that the Americans have such awesome firepower. It’s simply bad parenting that got the kid wounded! She probably wasn’t even wearing a seat belt when the van crashed into the wall! It’s enough to make you want to shoot the girl’s dad for being so irresponsible! Oh wait, that already happened, remember? Crazyhorse thought that was hilarious! Good times…good times.

18:18 Got uh, eleven.

18:22 Yeah uh, roger. We’re monitoring.

18:25 Sorry. / No problem.

How polite! What well brought-up young men; obviously the products of good parenting!

18:27 Correction eight-six-one-six.

18:33The lead Bradley moves due west, the tank hull (not the tracks) passing over the body of the man lying in front of the van, showing a little respect for the dead.

18:36 Looking for more individuals south.

A second Bradley moves south-east over the rubble patch.

18:38 Bushmaster Six-Bushmaster Seven.

18:45 The camera snap zooms to where Namir is lying, following the Bradley.

18:51 I think they just drove over a body. / Really?

18:54 Yeah!

18:57 Maybe it was just a visual illusion, but it looked like it.

Oh the disappointment! The Bradley is careful to pass over Namir. What a shame! Seeing his body chewed to shreds by the tank tracks would have been a perfect ending to a perfect day, I’m sure.

19:03 Well, they’re dead, so…”

Yeah, it’s not all bad. After all, he couldn’t get any more dead.

Meanwhile, it’s been about 10 minutes since the little girl was wounded in the stomach after being shot-at with 100 rounds of armor piercing 30 millimeter shells. An American soldier would get a Purple Heart for that (maybe a Bronze Star too), the best medical care and a trip home. The girl however is already home, isn’t getting any relevant medical care and its now been over six minutes since it was realized she was alive. Perhaps everyone is busy writing their best wishes for her on a ‘Get Well Soon!’ card?

19:06 Bushmaster Six; Hotel Two-Six over.

19:10 A truck moves towards the van.

19:18 Six; this is Four. I got one individual looks like he’s got an RPG round laying underneath him. Break.

Ah ha! The actual RPG that Crazyhorse never mentioned is found!

19:22 A soldier starts running away from the van, heading east.

19:29 Probably like to get…

19:30 Crazy horse snap zooms to the soldiers by the body pile.

19:31 Shoot his ass. (Who? The dead man who was lying on top of the RPG? I believe that’s the definition of “overkill.”) / Bushmaster Six; Hotel Two-Six over.

19:52 Bushmaster Six; Romeo Hotel Two-Six over.

Three of the group of soldiers that were by the body pile are now walking towards the van, the fourth from the group appears to stop and take a picture of the man who was killed just behind Namir.

20:06 Bushmaster Six; Hotel Two-Six over.

20:19 Hotel Two-Six; Bushmaster Seven co-located with Six.

20:29 Hotel Two-Six; Bushmaster Seven. / Bushmaster Seven; Hotel Two-Six over.

20:37 Roger, we got a little girl who needs to be evaced. What’s your location over?

20:43 En route Gadins, I am all the way to the south. So I am Gadins and Fifth Street.

20:49 I say again Gadins and Fifth Street, over.

21:02 Bushmaster Seven; Hotel Two-Six. Do you want us to push to your location?

21:10 Zoom on the van again. Ten soldiers are moving around and about the van but there’s no one with the wounded girl.

21:16 Hey, uh, I need to get the Brads to drop rads. I got a wounded little girl we need to take her to Rustamiyah (back to base).

21:19 Wideangle then closeup on the truck near the van and soldiers milling about.

21:26 Bushmaster Seven; Hotel Two-Six. Do you want us to move to your location over?

21:43 Wideangle, a soldier is running from near the van, east and south.

21:44 Closeup. A soldier is running over the rubble. south east, carrying a small child.

21:53 Bushmaster Six; Hotel Two-Six over.

21:58 Hotel Two-Six; this is Bushmaster Seven. Roger, come to our location.

21:02 Okay, roger, we’re coming up north on Gadins and then we will push east to your location.

22:27 Bushmaster elements be advised we have friendlies coming from the south to your location. Over.

22:36 All right, got ’em moving up from the south.

23:00 Bushmaster elements be advised we are coming up from the east.

23:11 Closeup of the van as a second larger child is suddenly carried away in a hurry. I just noticed there are three men on the truck, definitely Iraqi, prisoners?

23:26 The kid is rushed over to the Bradley on the southern road,

23:52 Close up. Fifteen soldiers milling about at the intersection where the first Bradley stopped.

23:13 Hey One-Two; follow me over. I’m going to try and get out of here as quickly as possible.

The Bradley is going to leave the scene with the children on board.

24:38 You guys all right back there?

The Bradley with the children in it is backing-up.

24:00 Yeah, we’re with you.

24:55 The Bradley turns around in its length, apparently planning to take the road west

24:59 Lotta guys down there. / Oh yeah. Came out of the woodwork

Reference to Crazyhorse’s pile of dead bodies. Whoever responds “came out of the woodwork” is either speculating or lying.

25:02 This is operation, ah, Operation Secure.

25:11 It has been fifteen minutes since the children were wounded and two to three minutes since they were suddenly pulled out of the van and rushed over to the Bradley like it was some kind of emergency. Now the Bradley has stopped right next to the van that had very nearly been the kids coffin. The wounded children are exactly zero feet closer to the hospital care they need and fifteen minutes closer to dying,

25:38 [Crazyhorse] Yeah we have fifty rounds left. / Yep

25:41 Two-Six; Six Romeo over. / 25:21 Two-Six; Romeo over.

25:43 Hey roger, what’s your current location over?

Ground radio chatter.

26:06 Hotel Two-Six; Crazyhorse One-Eight.

26:21 Hey, did you got action on that target yet over?

26:25 Speak to Charlie, roger.

26:32 Hotel Two-Six; [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight.

26:55 Bushmaster Six; [this is] Crazyhorse One-Eight.

26:59 Roger, you have traffic, over.

27:02 Roger. Uh, just wondering if you had anything else you wanted us to drive on?

27:08 Yeah roger keep on, ah, for the time being over,

The above exchange is too casual for me to interpret.

27:11 [Six calls Six-Romeo]. Can you tell Battalion [headquarters] that two civilian children casualties are coming back to SMI in the Bradley, over.

27:26 Six calls Six-Romeo.

27:29 Bushmaster-Six [this is] Copper White-Six.

27:32 Copperhead White-Six; this is Bushmaster Six-Romeo over.

27:36 Roger, that’s a negative on the evac of the two, ah, civilian, ah, kids to, ah, rusty (Camp Rustamiyah) they’re going to have the IPs (Iraqi Police) link up. They can put us over here. Break. IPs will take them up to a local hospital over.

27:50 Copy over.

So, having been accessories to murder and the attempted murder of a child (actually two children) the operation commanders now want to avoid taking any responsibility for their orders and their actions. They have decided to further endanger the child’s life with delay and to essentially get rid of the evidence of their decisions and their subordinates’ actions rather than render direct humanitarian assistance to an innocent of the country they invaded under George Bush’s orders supposedly for the benefit of this child, millions of other Iraqis and the rest of the free world.

27:54 One six oh.

28:08they’re all going to.

28:10 Say again?

28:23 Zoom south compass bearing 165 as a line of about eight soldiers make their way into one of the multi storey buildings across from where Crazyhorse first “lit-up” his five to six individuals with AK-47s and then battered an ordinary van with 100 rounds of armor piercing shells because the driver happened to stop to help the unarmed man whose leg they had destroyed and who they had urged to “just pick up a weapon” so they could really justify blowing him to kingdom-come and enthusiastically recount their ‘combat’ experience afterwards.

28:12 Where all those dismounts are going to?

28: 40 Close-up.  It looks like a mess of dead bodies are on the roof.

28: 42 Going into this house. Sorry

…in order to get up on the roof above the arch –embellished covered balcony of a second floor where a mess of bodies lies

29:53 Three Six, Three Six; Bushmaster Six Romeo over.

29:59 Six Romeo, Six Romeo.

30:00 Roger, Bushmaster Seven wants an up [date?] on all personnel in your battalion over.

30:07 Roger.

30:10. It’s now been 21 minutes since the van started taking direct hits, 20 minutes since Crazyhorse crowed about the hole they put in the windshield and all the holes they put through the kids’ father, sixteen-and-half minutes since anyone realized there was a 4 year old girl alive in the van, 13 minutes since “she needs to get evaced” and 12 minutes since the father was blamed for somehow forcing Crazyhorse to shoot at them 100 times and yet the Bradley with the wounded children still isn’t taking them anywhere because they’ve been ordered not to bring them back to base, nor yet been told where they can take them.

As it turns out the children were eventually taken back the camp Rustamiyah where they were treated by the 28th Combat Support Hospital.

It is unclear what time the children were admitted to the CSH but the records show that the four-year old girl had been treated by 10:38 UTC, 1.38 p.m. local time (five hours after it was discovered she was wounded), whilst her ten-year old brother Sayad had been treated by 13.25 UTC, 4.25 p.m. local time, about eight hours after the attack.

The very first line on Doaha’s medical record describes a “mortar/blast injury r. hand”. For all their experience the medical staff wouldn’t have been able to identify the exact munitions involved. She had shrapnel in her head, right hand, right leg and small intestine. Sayad’s external wounds were similar but more extensive as were his internal injuries which necessitated a blood transfusion and a chest tube.

Surely only psychopaths would dare to refute the evidence and excuse or defend the events that Wikileaks describes as “Collateral Murder”, and yet not only were these deadly events falsely justified by the guilty at the time, they are also being justified by volunteers such as Bill Roggio of the Weekly Standard ( whose boss. Bill Kristol helped engineer the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq and has a vested interest in avoiding any blame for the bloodthirsty experiment) .

Furthermore, after a pattern of obfuscation, lies, false arguments and a refusal to conform to FOIA law, current  Defense Secretary Robert Gates chose to invoke the abused, and in this specific case utterly irrelevant, “fog of war” argument that Jake Tapper of ABC’s ‘This Week’ handed to him on a silver platter:

“They’re in a combat situation. The video doesn’t show the broader picture of the firing that was going on at American troops. It’s obviously a hard thing to see. It’s painful to see, especially when you learn after the fact what was going on. But you talked about the fog of war. These people were operating in split-second situations.”

Does this look like a group about to attack anyone? -Requiring "split second decsions"? ) Image about two seconds before most of these men are killed.

Gates lies. There was no split-second decision making as the footage makes clear. The Apache crew was given permission to engage without them reporting even aggressive or suspicious actions, let alone reporting coming under fire. The gunner had the time to wait for several seconds until the greatest number of targets was visible. The gunner had the time to circle the dead bodies and stay focused on them for minutes. He had the time to observe the two children in the front of the van. He had all the time in the world to choose to cease fire but chose instead to attack again when everyone he had specifically shot-at was already dead.

Defense Secretary Gates had the time to view the footage and accept the reality it contains. He had the time and the authority to blame the events on a couple of ‘bad apples’, just like the Haditha and Abu Ghraib scandals. Instead Gates took his time to continue to lie, obfuscate, and excuse the clearly inexcusable, and Jake Tapper let him get-away with it, out of deferential cowardice, moral torpor, intellectual dishonesty, sheer stupidity, willful ignorance and/or any of these reasons.

Conclusions

The plain fact of the matter is that since the initially justifiable military intervention in Afghanistan in 2001 and the utterly illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 the US military has been intentionally given license to abduct, torture and murder on a massive scale and those policies have not only gone largely unchallenged by politicians and the American media, but have been actively encouraged and/or excused.

This story isn’t only about the obvious murder of two journalists and two groups of civilians. It isn’t only about the attempted murder of two children or the willingness of commanders to let two children die of the wounds they approved could be inflicted in the service of some supposedly great, essential and noble cause. This story isn’t about a single war crime. It is in fact about institutionalized inhumanity, mass hypocrisy, mass delusion, denial and lying, and collective responsibility for mass murder in the name of America’s self-appointed psychopathic exceptionalism.

It is about almost everything that Nazi Germany was rightly accused-of and convicted-of but one-lifetime ago.

It is about the conduct of a nation that authorized itself by its own arrogance to reshape and control the world and its future for its own selfish purposes through distorted and invented grievances that could only be addressed by calculated manipulation of reality, the distortion of reason, the abandonment of simple humanity and the obsessive and cruel application of superior military force against political economic and military inferiors.

It is ultimately about how America has lost the moral imperatives born from the humanity and reason that enabled its creation and development into a force for global good that during World War II around 16 million American men and women served and over four-hundred thousand died to protect and to bequeath its example to the world and its future.

Osama Bin Laden organized the killing of nearly three-thousand people in the US because he objected to American Middle East policies in principle, not because he himself had been hurt in any way. What form of justice might a boy who had been nearly murdered, whose father had been murdered, his family made destitute, seek in the future? How many future OBLs might the US have created in Iraq?

And yet still the US refuses to admit to these killings and many others. It refuses to admit that their presence in Iraq and all their actions were and are illegal (notwithstanding the UN resolution that accepted the fait-accompli of American forces as the only functional authority in Iraq, long after the fact). The US refuses to admit, let alone redress, the killings of its own soldiers (Pat Tillman for example, or those who died from KBR’s criminal negligence), or the killings of allied soldiers (mostly British). Everything about Iraq is being excused and defended and no-one is being held accountable for the most obvious crimes. If America refuses to hold itself accountable for its actions then who will, and by what means?

Bush’s policies haven’t reduced the risk of terrorism but increased it and as long as America refuses to at least acknowledge that then attempts at another 9/11 and more 9/11s are practically guaranteed—and what then?

Some of the People Apache CrazyHorse One-Eight Murdered and Attempted to Murder With US Approval.

Namir Noor-Eldeen (age 22) was a photographer working for a news organization upon which many Europeans and Americans rely—including those corporations and politicians that promoted the US occupation of Iraq and continue to protect and praise the US military’s actions there. His life was at risk by simply living in his home city due to a policy decisions made by a handful of people 6,000 miles away.

He was in the equivalent of Junior-High when the US invaded his country and had survived five years of constant and proximate war—something no American civilian has ever been subjected-to in their homeland. Rather than pick up a gun to defend himself and his country against invaders, he picked up a camera—and yet he was murdered for it.

Saeed Chmagh (age 40), is survived by his wife and four children who still live in a war zone with all the risks that pertain.

Salah Matasha Tomal (age 43), the driver of the van that stopped to help the severely wounded Saeed, was the husband of Anhlam Abid Althussir. The hiring of himself and his van was Salah’s source of income. It was their four-year old daughter Doaha and ten-year old son Sayad that the observer/gunner of the Apache attack helicopter “Crazyhorse” by pure bad luck failed to kill despite an impressive effort to do so with a M230 anti-armor automatic cannon, but who still managed to celebrate the killing of the husband and father right beside them before blaming him for his children’s injuries.

One wonders if Salah is able to reconcile the excellent attention and care her children were given by the US Army after being nearly murdered by the US Army and after initially being denied the best possible care available by US Army commanders particularly disinterested in accepting any moral or practical responsibility for her children’s’ injuries or for that matter to the Army’s own UCMJ and US and international law. If she has any gratitude for the saving of her children’s lives I imagine it would only be reserved for the doctors, nurses and the one or two American soldiers who still gave a damn about innocent life and basic humanity.

Final Word

The guilt and the blame for this rightly described “collateral murder” lies not just with the Crazyhorse aircrew, but with the lying cowards within the US Army and with the present and former administration officials without whom this multiple murder and thousands of other murders would never have been carried out.

The murderous illegal Iraq ‘mistake’ has not only cost many thousands of lives, it promises to cost thousands more in the future as long the US Army and the US government refuses to admit to the crimes it has clearly committed and yet continues to excuse.


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  1. 2ebbandflow said, on April 15, 2010 at 6:55 PM

    Wow! Just wow! Your aptly 5th Estate is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize or whatever the blog-o-sphere’s equivalency.

    It is indeed a great honor to read such articulate, insightful commentary.

    After the first reading, I had to step away and absorb. Re-reading made me even angrier –
    I know why Quakers are tax-resisters:

    “If a thousand men were not to pay their tax-bills this year that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood”.

    {Henry David Thoreau, “On the Duty of Civil Disobedience”, 1849}

    Your comment: “…and what they want is to kill some people who aren’t threatening them, or anyone else because apparently Iraqis don’t deserve the right to bear arms in their own invaded and occupied country.” Brings this travesty into great focus and sums it up so well.

    Truly, truly appreciate your efforts, this must have taken you a great deal of time and thought to put fingers to keyboard – I applaud you, sir!

  2. Zooey said, on April 15, 2010 at 11:03 PM

    Unbelievable and infuriating post, 5th.

    This is one incident, and it’s horrific. How many times has this type of incident occurred, and we’ll never know about it?

    Thank you for your truly amazing analysis, my friend.

  3. Zooey said, on April 15, 2010 at 11:44 PM

    I meant to say that you might consider asking TP if they’d let you do a guest blogging thing, or maybe post a link on the Maddow Blog.

  4. 5thstate said, on April 16, 2010 at 1:15 AM

    2ebbandflow and Zooey,

    It has has actually taken me 7 days to write–I’m pleased you both found it worth reading.

    After initially seeing the edited version of the gun camera video I was of course appalled and angry, but then despite the pretty plain evidence the edited version really sets up expectations by giving away the plot as it were.

    I was concerned that I was being manipulated somewhat so I felt I had to watch the full unedited version.

    It’s essentially no different, it just has a bit more unremarkable footage at the beginning and then about 8 minutes at the end of ‘Crazyhorse’ engaging another group in another location, this time in a far more legitimate fashion–but the crew still had much the same sloppy cowboy attitude and disregard for civilian casualties–but I couldn’t get into that as well.

    It’s one thing to make accusations of murder in private, quite another to do so in public.

    Reuters themselves went out of their way to accuse no-one—they assiduously couched their inquires and public statements in terms of ‘working conditions’ as though this event were an industrial accident from which better safety standards might be derived for the future.

    Wikileaks of course has not been shy about using the word “murder”, but despite what the videos show, I felt it incumbent upon me to regard them not as “a story’ to simply accept and agree-with, but to look at the tape for what it really is, which is forensic evidence.
    Therefore I needed to treat it as such if I was then going to write about it.

    The coverage the story got in the TV MSM was pretty extensive–more than I expected in fact— but as per usual the actual evidence was ignored in favor of of nebulous and inconclusive discussion about what it meant or might mean or what it was like or not like instead of what it actually was, what happened, not what might happen or not happen or who it would affect and what people in general might think about it in terms of this or that.

    And I noted that even the dedicated Wikileaks site had separated the video from the transcript and focused on the deaths of the reporters and sufferings of their families as the principle issue, which is right and fair, but there sadly and terribly is more to it than that and from what I could tell no-one was really connecting the dots–it was still being treated as a single war crime, or being denied as such, by the media in general .

    So I approached it as a ‘documentary’ rather than a ‘segment’ because there was and is a context to this terrible event which was going generally unacknowledged, despite the attention the story elicited.

    It’s as complete as I could make it to be able to publish it in a reasonable time frame–I edited out about four more pages of other direct and background sources and commentary and could have added more.

    Something that really struck me is the how the Apache crew acted compared to the soldiers on the ground.

    It was/is the troops on the ground that had and have reason to be fearful of everything and everyone in that environment and to be reactionary.
    In comparison the helicopter crew has it easy–they have distance, vision, armor, maneuverability and massive power at their disposal, and when the fuel bets low they get to go home.
    I could understand if a foot patrol got a glimpse of the photographer, perceived an ambush, flanked the location and then just opened fire on the group. THAT would have been collateral damage,
    But the chopper had all the time and immediate intelligence to think about what they would do–and what they did was to shoot around a dozen people because….they could and they wanted to kill. And they could get away with it and are being helped to get away with.

    And lets not forget, these men are going to return to US society, and despite their apparent enjoyment of their kiling, they are probably going to be haunted by their actions. Those who enabled them however….will carry on, influencing policy.

    .

  5. 5thstate said, on April 16, 2010 at 1:37 AM

    Zooey, re TP.Maddow link… I was just beginning to think that myself. for this particular post anyway. .

  6. hb said, on December 1, 2010 at 4:28 AM

    Very good analysis. I feel sick–absolutely sick.

  7. Mark Harrison said, on December 7, 2010 at 10:14 PM

    I have read that, “Attacking any person/organization/vehicle in the act of helping the wounded on a battlefield is PROHIBITED by the Geneva Convention”. If this is true, then the killing of the guy-and his kids–helping the wounded was an illegal action. Why is nobody focusing on that? And more importantly, why did the US military defend that part of the action, if it was illegal? It makes it look like Wikileaks raison d’etre is absolutely valid: to expose cover-ups.

  8. HM said, on February 11, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    5thstate , I sat and viewed the video Collateral Murder , that disgusting display of cowardice that is called a country’s military action with tears flowing down my cheeks. I simply do not understand how these architects of barbarism ( they call war ) can sleep nights, except that their consciences are seared due to greed for power and money. They have the hypocrisy to do to others what they accuse those very same people of.
    To attack people …. any people in the act of helping the wounded is a PARAMOUNT act of inhumanity and as has been pointed out contravenes the Geneva Convention. Guess the power mongers are above all law. They may not see their come – uppance in this life …. but surely they will have to account for their actions in the next.

  9. jon said, on January 27, 2016 at 7:22 AM

    First off, have you ever been on a battle field? Have you ever been in the middle of combat? Responsible for a platoon of Soldiers being the primary support element? Indeed I am saddened by what occurred; however, to pick apart and analyze, replay in slow motion, analyze & watch over and over again, taking still picture shots of the video– of course, during the span of AT LEAST A WEEK, but more likely you had over a year or two to come up with claims based off of repeated watching…….Let me remind you that the pilots of this Apache did not get to replay and analyze footage for a few years, they had seconds, often split seconds to observe events unfold as they were occurring. You want to hang these pilots based off of real time decisions??????

    I can tell none of you have been in combat, that isn’t a knock on you and I am happy you never had to see combat. However, insurgents would deploy cameramen to video tape IED attacks, sniper attacks, our tactics, & SOPs. They would later use this footage to promote the killing of Americans via propaganda. Often a camera in the hands of an insurgent is more deadly than an AK47. Those videotaping were working with insurgents pulling the trigger or setting off bombs, so they were just as guilty as those pulling the trigger.

    Did these cameramen inform the US they were in this AO? Didn’t Reuters train your journalists that insurgents use these videotaping tactics? Those videotaping the US & their movements caused more deaths than all the AK47 bullets added up and multiplied by 10.

    Hare dare you sit on your soap box & try to take these men over the coals ONLY AFTER you watched the film 1,000 times in slow motion. You have that luxury, those in combat don’t. Unfortunately in war, innocent people die, I wish this was never the case, and trust me those that have killed innocent people live with that for the rest of their life & will deal with their maker when the time comes, regardless, if their actions saved numerous soldiers. There was a heavy firefight going on down the street, and you have men with RPGs & AK47s, along with camera’s in a crowd of military aged males– they are not running, they are gradually working their way over to the firefight. Normally innocent people move AWAY from any sort of contact. Your an idiot, with a mere low IQ– this is your claim to fame, picking apart actions made in seconds as they happened in real time, when you watched them 10000 times over, and freeze framed pictures and took out a microscope to look at the still frame. Your a fool.


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