Latest from WikiLeaks: Collateral Murder

Wikileaks has just released this disturbing footage of the killing of Iraqi civilians by US helicopter gunships in August July 2007. This is really horrific. The so-called weapons that the gunship soldiers thought they saw were all in fact cameras. They shot to death a group of people walking down the street, and then slaughtered people with children coming to help the wounded, just because some of them had cameras.

Wikileaks has obtained and decrypted this previously unreleased video footage from a US Apache helicopter in 2007. It shows Reuters journalist Namir Noor-Eldeen, driver Saeed Chmagh, and several others as the Apache shoots and kills them in a public square in Eastern Baghdad. They are apparently assumed to be insurgents. After the initial shooting, an unarmed group of adults and children in a minivan arrives on the scene and attempts to transport the wounded. They are fired upon as well. The official statement on this incident initially listed all adults as insurgents and claimed the US military did not know how the deaths ocurred. Wikileaks released this video with transcripts and a package of supporting documents on April 5th 2010 on

The Collateral Murder website has a transcript of the video below.

Via PZ Myers, who says:

Perhaps the killers were merely mistaken, as happens in war. Perhaps they had better views of weaponry than can be seen in this video. But that doesn’t explain what happened next, when a van pulls up to help a wounded man and they open fire again, fully aware of what was going on below them, and fire several bursts into the people and into the van.

Maybe they could see weapons more clearly than I can. But then how did they fail to notice two small faces peering out of the passenger side window of the van? They shot journalists and children, all the while laughing and congratulating themselves on the ‘nice’ pile of bodies they had produced. And when they see soldiers on the ground rushing injured children to aid, they say, “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

I am ashamed. We are the storm troopers, the murderous invaders, the butchers of children, the laughing barbarians. We aren’t in Iraq to help those people, our troops are there to oppress them…when we aren’t gunning them down outright.

There’s also a point in the recordings of voices over the radio where a soldier in a ground vehicle says “I think we just ran over some bodies” and laughs.

Mistakes happen, especially in such a tense situation where there really are sometimes insurgents with weapons. But when they do, cover-ups that call innocent people insurgents, when everybody else in that area knew exactly what had really happened, only make the people of the occupied territory resentful, suspicious, distrusting and vengeful. And they wonder why they’ve failed to win hearts and minds in Iraq?

Kudos to the military whistleblowers who collected and divulged the source material to Wikileaks. We all need to know about these things, no matter how disturbing they are.

Categories: ethics & philosophy, law & order, violence


4 replies

  1. Previous comments that were on this thread have been deleted. A new thread discussing those comments has been published.

    • US Forces have covered up killings of civilians in Afghanistan as well: U.S. Admits Role in February Killing of Afghan Women

      On Sunday night the American-led military command in Kabul issued a statement admitting that “international forces” were responsible for the deaths of the women. Officials have previously stated that American Special Operations forces and Afghan forces conducted the operation.
      The statement said that “investigators could not conclusively determine how or when the women died, due to lack of forensic evidence” but that they had nonetheless “concluded that the women were accidentally killed as a result of the joint force firing at the men.”
      “We deeply regret the outcome of this operation, accept responsibility for our actions that night, and know that this loss will be felt forever by the families,” said Brig. Gen. Eric Tremblay, a spokesman for the NATO command in Kabul.
      The admission was an abrupt about-face. In a statement soon after the raid, NATO had claimed that its raiding party had stumbled upon the “bodies of three women who had been tied up, gagged and killed” and hidden in a room in the house. Military officials had also said later that the bodies showed signs of puncture and slashing wounds from a knife, and that the women appeared to have been killed several hours before the raid.
      And in what would be a scandalous turn to the investigation, The Times of London reported Sunday night that Afghan investigators also determined that American forces not only killed the women but had also “dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath” and then “washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened.”

      • Great posts from Glenn Greenwald on the Afghan killings and cover-up:

        In a stark assessment of shootings of locals by US troops at checkpoints in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal said in little-noticed comments last month that during his time as commander there, “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force . . . . [T]o my knowledge, in the nine-plus months I’ve been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it.”

        and the Wikilieaks video of the Baghdad killings:

        It’s hard to express the blinding jingoistic delusion necessary to insist — in the face of this mountain of evidence and dead civilians left in the wake of our wars — that the Apache attack is some sort of rare or exceptional event. That’s why the military concluded that what happened in this Apache attack (including the shooting of unarmed rescuers) is consistent with U.S. military policy: because it is.

        The video released by WikiLeaks has now been seen by close to 4 million people on YouTube alone, but CNN either refuses outright to show the most revealing parts or treats those parts like they’re too naughty for their fragile, childish viewers to see. This is a perfect example of how the American media helps to propagandize the public and obscure the truth

  2. People who are justifying this event are full of shit. These guys have the larger weapon, a chain machine gun–two, actually, if they’re on an Apache—and even after they verify that the sole apparent survivor has no weapon they still blast out six volleys. They beg for firing clearance and exaggerate the number of men who are (unarmed) attempting to help the wounded man. (In Iraq, given the common occurance of bombs and shootings, people seldom wait for ambulances; the wounded are often loaded in vans, private cars, and even into the beds of trucks to take them to hospital.) Also, in Iraq, AK-47s are so common as to be unremarkable. Every household is allowed one.
    This is disgusting.

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