Arrest Over Iraqi Helicopter Slaughter Video Leak

The Christian Science Monitor reports on a security leak arrest over the not-as-controversial-as-it-should-have-been Wikileaks video of a U.S. helicopter in Iraq killing a bunch of journalists and civilians, which I blogged about in early April. The new details:

The US Army has arrested Specialist Bradley Manning, a soldier deployed in Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division, on charges that he allegedly released classified information. The military is looking at a possible connection between Spc. Manning and WikiLeaks, an online whistleblower organization which in April published a graphic video of an Apache gunship mistakenly shooting civilians, according to Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman.

Some context:

The Manning case marks the third time during the Obama administration that authorities have arrested a suspected leaker.

This “seems to reflect an increasingly aggressive response to unauthorized disclosures of classified information,” writes Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists, on his Secrecy News blog.

Manning is in pretrial custody in Kuwait, according to the Army. Wired.com reported that he was caught after he boasted to a former computer hacker of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents and the combat video footage, including the gun camera videos of the deadly 2007 Baghdad incident subsequently posted on WikiLeaks.

The former hacker, Adrian Lamo, turned Manning in to the FBI, according to Wired, which broke the news of the arrest.

Wired's latest on the arrest, which notes Manning was "arrested nearly two weeks ago by the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division" and has not yet been formally charged. (The people doing the killing in the leaked video haven't been either, though they weren't arrested.) The person to whom Manning allegedly confessed, in presumed confidence, a hacker named Adrian Lamo, was ironically himself a former contributer of funds to wikileaks, but Wired reports that

Lamo...agonized over the decision to expose Manning — he says he’s frequently contacted by hackers who want to talk about their adventures, and he has never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak [he allegedly told Lamo he'd leaked a quarter million classified U.S. embassy cables as well], however, made him believe Manning’s actions were genuinely dangerous to U.S. national security.

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  • Apologetic California||

    I hope the leaked diplomatic cables are out there. Oh man that would be an interesting read.

  • KDG||

    This.

  • Suki||

    Check a more honestly noted, not deceptively edited version, if you are interested.

  • Tman||

    "The people doing the killing in the leaked video haven't been either, though they weren't arrested."

    Couldn't resist, could you Mr. Doherty.

    I was impressed at your restraint all the way up to that sentence.

  • Old Mexican||

    The US Army has arrested Specialist Bradley Manning, a soldier deployed in Iraq with the 10thMountain Division, on charges that he allegedly released classified politically inconvenient information.

    More accurate . . .

  • Hmm||

    I cant stand either war. But there were two clear weapons in that group, ground troops that had taken fire all day long and the shot was taken from a distance. There seems to be a lot of circumstances here

  • Chrispy||

    And the second group who came by to help the first, how many "clear weapons" did they have? What about the kids that were shot?

  • ||

    The fools that brought kids along to pick up arms wielding bodies deserve to rot in the hottest part of hell.

  • Suki||

    +1,000,000

  • ||

    What were those van drivers thinking when they brought those two children into that scene? They knew, because they are semi-sentient, that the apache crew could not see the kids, Those insurgents were practicing their well-worn tactic of hiding behind children to create a scandal where they could mislead fools into believing the US Army is just a bunch of murderers

  • Suki||

    That van had been roaming the area all day, from the audio on the non-deceptive version

  • Virginia||

    Both over-narrated and edited videos are deceptive.

  • hmm||

    Considering a standard MO is to use vans to transport RPGs that are in turn used to down helicopters, vans are a well known target. War isn't pretty, the goal is to make as many of them die for their cause as possible. There is no what if, the rules of engagement are set and followed.

    It sucks. That's precisely the reason you don't go to war for every reason under the sun, do so only to defend yourself only.

  • ||

    This isn't war. War is when two opposing armies face each other. It is not when the most massive military power in the history of the world invades a dinky pathetic country and destroys it utterly.

  • ||

    I thought we were spreading democracy in Iraq not going to war with them.

  • NeonCat||

    There is nothing more democratic than death.

  • Lyle||

    They needn't any weapons. They were some imbeciles though.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Hmm,

    But there were two clear weapons in that group,

    And somehow these Iraquis don't have a God-given right to bear arms because . . . . . . what?

  • ||

    Because we're there to protect them, or something like that. Duh.

  • ||

    Enough of this already. Dudes were armed with a freaking rpg. If we can't kill the enemy then god help our troops.

  • Chrispy||

    Troops that can't differentiate between an RPG and a camera shouldn't be in charge of an Apache helicopter and 30mm autocannons either.

  • ||

    Just for clarification, are you asserting that there were no RPGs in the group the reporters were part of or that James Ard's "dudes" were the reporters exclusively?

  • ||

    No, Crispy is just a run of the mill monday morning quarterback with absolutely perfect clarity in hindsight, who absolutely abhors the US military.

    Nothing to see here, just a typical blame America type.

  • Chrispy||

    Yes I am asserting that. There were no RPGs. There was one journalist with a camera that was mistaken for an RPG.

  • ||

  • Chrispy||

  • B||

    Sorry, but when you are providing Wikipedia as a source, you have lost.

  • ||

    "A rocket-propelled grenade launcher was found at the scene of the attack, officials noted."

    Oh what's that? Officials reported that one was found at the scene?

    Well it must be true. Officials would NEVER EVER plant evidence to exonerate their actions. Nope. Never happens. EVER. Officials say so.

  • Jim Treacher||

    If a thing is possible, that alone serves as proof.

  • ||

    Ok, you need to go watch the video again. In addition to the useful idiots cavorting about with the enemy, there was at least one RPG in the group. There's at least one version of the video with a freeze-frame of the very clear profile of an RPG. In addition, there were several AK-type assault rifles in evidence.

    All in all, some moron reporters hoping to get a scoop, the terrorists' view of things, put themselves with said terrorists in the middle of a foiled ambush. The whole group got what was deserved.

  • ||

    Im still trying to find the video.

  • ||

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jgYfTRAZqek
    The search function of the site that had the best version decided to go belly-up on me, but this video includes the relevant freeze-frame. 1:20-3:20 is the group in question. Also, the video notes, early on, that a van matching the one later picking up after the group was hit was seen in the area ahead of time.

  • B||

    Hey dipshit, multiple news stories have come out showing that the so-called civilians that were slaughtered were carrying RPGs and machine guns of various types. What a surprise that no mention is made of the fact that Wikileaks doctored the video.

  • Virginia||

    The two kids had RPGs? Those were some strong-armed little kids.

  • Jim Treacher||

    You're right, the human shields didn't have weapons.

  • hmm||

    I feel for the people not armed, but even (or especially) in a war zone I don't think anyone with an ounce of common sense would be near the guys being hunted. You're just asking to be turned into a collateral damage statistic. It still sucks, but heh they had to know going in they were a target if they were with them, just like press embedded with US forces are a target.

  • BarryJV||

    (Link goes to live leak video)

    The journalists were standing amongst a group of people some of who were armed and at least one of whom appears to beholding an RPG. The original burst of fire is clearly aimed towards the man seen with the RPG and several others, including one journalist are caught in the hail of shells.

    As the helicopter swings around one of the journalists is seen fleeing the area, he is specifically targeted and injured. He is not armed though is carrying a camera which might have been misidentified.

    He survives and is seen crawling along the kerb. Later a van arrives and a group of unarmed men gets out and runs to help the injured journalist. They might be simply trying to help survivors, though it is reported on the audio that they are also picking up weapons from the street, though I can't see that on the video.

    After reporting the situation the crew are ordered to fire on the van.

    Obviously, it was unnecessary to shoot the unarmed journalist as he ran, but it is very likely that his camera was misidentified as a weapon.

    Shooting on the van was inevitable if it was being used to retrieve weapons, but unnecessary if it was not.

    My impression is that it isn't the initial burst of fire that's controversial, but the follow-up. Whether you believe that shooting the journalist and the van was acceptable depends very much on your interpretation of events, certainly the helicopter crew believed that all involved were terrorists, whether that belief was reasonable or justified is open to interpretation.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: James Ard,

    Enough of this already. Dudes were armed with a freaking rpg. If we can't kill the enemy then god help our troops.

    It is understandable that chauvinist assholes believe only Americans have a right to bear arms but not the "brown people."

    And NO, people don't have a right to bear arms because such is "granted" by the Constitution - we ALL have a right to defend our lives, ergo we have a right to arm ourselves for defence. An RPG is as good as anything when it comes to defending oneself against a group of armed, airborne thugs.

  • ||

    Exactly..what the fuck is wrong with those iraqis? They think they have a right to bear arms? we need to show them how america works and kill everyone with a weapon(and their children too)...that will teach them.

  • NeonCat||

    We also need to see if any of them had dogs and shoot those as well.

  • skr||

    A hacker working with the man. That's lame. It could even be Lame-o.

  • Yonemoto||

    yeah dude wtf? I went to kindergarten with Lamo. Used to be proud of it.... Now... I don't know.

  • ||

    I wonder what the administration's justification for classifying that video is.

  • Coeus||

    I don't think they even bother any more. Ever since they got away with that "the reason it's classified is classified" bullshit, they just leave that part of the form blank.

  • William Tecumseh Sherman||

    War is hell.

  • ||

    Cut this bullshit out Doherty. That video clearly shows an armed group with AK-47s and RPGs, who at multiple points in the video aimed their weapons at that helicopter. The van that got shot up was going around helping the enemy all day, so they had it coming. The reason this isn't controversial is that most people don't feel the need to shit on US troops doing their job.

  • Maverick||

    You haven't been around here long enought to know that Doherty is a cunt.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Cytotoxic,

    That video clearly shows an armed group with AK-47s and RPGs, who at multiple points in the video aimed their weapons at that helicopter.

    And those Iraquis suddenly lost their God-given right to bear arms and defend themselves because . . . . . what?

  • JoshINHB||

    Is this a parody of yourself?

    Or have you just finished a case of tequilla?

  • Les||

    Shooting at vans acting as ambulances for the enemy is "doing their job?" Is "doing their job" ignoring Geneva conventions and basic decency?

    The reason this isn't controversial is that most people don't care if non-American children are blown to bits for no good reason.

  • Suki||

    You are talking about the people who have used actual ambulances to drive around their soldiers and weapons.

  • B||

    What a nauseatingly anti-military post. This ranks up there with the bullshit posts by Steve Chapman claiming, well after it was obvious the surge was working, that Petraeus and the Bush administration were propagandizing about the success of the tactic.
    As I mention in an earlier post, several news outlets reported on the fact that RPGs and machine guns were in fact present and that Wikileaks cut out parts of the video in attempt to make the US military look culpable.

  • Les||

    Paying your enemies off not to fight you is such a fantastic military strategy!

    You ought not to pretend to be for limited government while reflexively defending the most deadly, authoritarian part of it.

  • ||

    There's been a point at which it was obvious the Surge was working?

    IIRC, the stated purpose of the Surge was to make Iraq stable enough that our troops could come home. Since our troops are still there, I can only conclude it has not succeeded.

  • BangBang||

    Surely Obama will give him a pass. The Bush era is over.

  • ||

    Personally, I don't fault them for the initial assault. There were clearly armed guys in the group, near an active battle zone. But the van with the kids? There was absolutely no sign that those guys were doing anything other than picking up the injured. I have a hard time believing that's a legit target.

  • Virginia||

    Apparently the 'rules of engagement' exonerated the shooters of the van & children. It really pays to know American rules of engagement when you live in a country occupied by American forces.

  • ||

    I refuse to get my tits in a flutter over the mistaken killing of some armed innocent civilians in the fog of urban war. The military should earnestly try to prevent thing like this from happening but only a goddam idiot thinks that innocents getting killed in an urban conflict can be eliminated.

    Specialist Bradley Manning is just a goddam specialist. That's the equivalent of corporal. Who wants 22 year old corporals taking it upon themselves to decide whether classified material should be released to the media?

    I agree the footage was over-classified (nothing new there) but any barely weaned corporal trying to decide this shit for himself deserves to be disciplined.

  • ||

    I favor more transparency...the video needs to be seen so people can decide if the stated humanitarian goals inthe MidEast are a legit reason for this war. The video clearly shows that this war is not about spreading the bill of rights and trial by jury and other bedrocks of what made america great...it is for this reason that the leaker of the video is being treated as a terrorist.

  • ||

    Specialist Bradley Manning is just a goddam specialist. That's the equivalent of corporal. Who wants 22 year old corporals taking it upon themselves to decide whether classified material should be released to the media?

    I do! That's prefereable to letting career oriented officers making those decisions.

    What does his rank or age matter? He felt that what our army was doing was wrong and he did something about it.

    More like that please.

    Most whistle blowers aren't going to be the entrenched or the higher ups who have successfully navigated their way up the chain and prospered in the current system.

  • ||

    He felt that what our army was doing was wrong and he did something about it.

    That's what we need - more soldiers disregarding orders and doing whatever they think is the right thing.

    Under orders not to shoot unless shot at first? Screw that, its the wrong thing because it puts my men at risk - I'm calling in artillery fire on that hospital.

  • Virginia||

    For the record, Wikileaks has denied receiving 260,000 diplomatic cables. Maybe this was cover for Lamo going sissy.

  • ||

    A running firefight in the area with US troops. A group of armed men is heading toward the firefight.

    Initial engagement OK, in my book, on those facts alone.

    Wounded man from armed group trying to escape after initial engagement, carrying something.

    Anchor shot OK, in my book.

    Van comes by to render aid to armed group. Vans commonly used by insurgents. People in van picking up weapons.

    Engagement of van OK, in my book. Presence of children regrettable, but granting presumptive insurgents immunity if they have human shields will only encourabe the practice. Were the kids even visible from the helicopter? I don't recall.

  • ||

    Big shock!

    RC DEAN is ok with each any every shot that was fired.

    Next you're gonna tell us that water is wet.

    Wounded man from armed group trying to escape after initial engagement, carrying something.

    Why is it ok for someone to shoot an injured person because they are carrying something?

    And driving in a van is an executable offense too?

    God Bless American Exceptionalism.

  • ||

    Why is it ok for someone to shoot an injured person because they are carrying something?

    A live combatant* who hasn't surrendered and is still capable of fighting is a legitimate target.

    And driving in a van is an executable offense too?

    They weren't shooting up random vans. They were shooting vans that were rendering aid to illegal combatants*. Try to take the facts into account, CT.

    This isn't that hard. The people arguing that nothing should have been done seem to be forgetting that there was an actual firefight going on a few blocks away.

    *The combatant status of the targeted group was the premise for the shooting. Once it is accepted (and why shouldn't it be? - they were armed and heading for a firefight), the rest gets to be pretty uncontroversial, in my opinion.

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