Foreign Policy

Taking a Look at the Iraqi Rules of Engagement, Via Wikileaks


Wikileaks releases video of U.S. troops murdering some Reuters journalists, and a bunch of other people, in Iraq back in July 2007. Video embedded below, in the form of a mini-documentary that surrounds the footage with some explanations and annotation.

Reuters' report on the video and what it shows. Excerpt:

The group, WikiLeaks, told a news conference in Washington that it acquired encrypted video of the July 12, 2007, attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code….

Major Shawn Turner, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said an investigation of the incident shortly after it occurred found that U.S. forces were not aware of the presence of the news staffers and thought they were engaging armed insurgents.

"We regret the loss of innocent life, but this incident was promptly investigated and there was never any attempt to cover up any aspect of this engagement," Turner said…..

David Schlesinger, Reuters' editor-in-chief, said the video released by WikiLeaks showed the deaths of Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh were "tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones."…

CNN's Wolf Blitzer shows care and concern for, of course, the victim's families by cutting off the video before all the shooting and killing happens.

Look for yourself and make your own judgement, of course, if you are concerned. (Which is more than CNN gave you the power to do.) While it does look like to me like a couple of the people walking down the streets of this very dangerous place have rifles on their arms, there is no sign of any of the people involved posing any threat to anyone or anything, and what the soldiers seem to think are RPGs seem more likely to be cameras (and again are not threatening anyone whatever they are). (If I were walking around in Iraq in 2007, I'd certainly want me or others in my party to be armed, for our own protection.) When a van shows up to pick up the bodies, they too are shot to hell. A couple of children were in the van and killed (actually only wounded).

Bits of dialogue to look out for: after the first round of unthreatening people were killed, the chopper boys are looking around–not for more threats per se–but for, in their language, "just trying to find targets again." And when they discover the van that came to help the shot bodies had kids in it, well, "It's their fault for bringing their children into a battle." It wasn't really a battle though; that involved people fighting each other. It was a slaughter.

The New York Times with U.S. Central Command's perspective:

Late Monday, the United States Central Command, which oversees the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, released the redacted report on the case, which provided some more detail.

The report showed pictures of what it said were machine guns and grenades found near the bodies of those killed. It also stated that 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."

The U.S. admits to the video's authenticity and says it portrays rules of engagement that are perfectly proper. Luckily, thanks to Wikileaks, you can decide for yourself what you think of those rules with a bit more context than the U.S. military, or CNN, want to give you:

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  1. OK, tinfoil hatboy gabe here’s the post. Now shut the hell up.

    1. Wikileaks releases video of U.S. troops murdering some Reuters journalists, and a bunch of other people, in Iraq back in July 2007.

      I watched the video. I am not convinced that I watched a murder.

      US forces in the vicinity were fired upon.

      The Apache located a group of men carrying weapon in the same general vicinity.

      The Apache requested permission to fire and was given permission to fire.

      And then innocent men were killed.

      Wrongful deaths — yes.

      Murder — I don’t think it was.

      1. I’m not sure how or why they got clearance to fire on the black van, but I’m not sure what happened in the first part of the clip. Was someone in that element really firing (at the column?). The first part may have been a tragic mistake. Firing on the black van certainly was.

        1. It’s not in the wikileaks video above, so I must have caught in the CNN video I saw first thing this morning.

          The Apaches were looking for bad guys after US forces were fired upon. They found two journalists in the presence of men carrying weapons but not wearing uniforms. The outcome from that point is pretty well determined.

          1. I heard one of the voices on the radio, possibly one of the pilots or gunners referring to friendly forces being fired upon. I also saw a cameraman or gunman take an unfortunately tactical stance on the corner. I’m wondering if these guys were in the wrong place at the wrong time or if someone in their group was responsible for the small-arms fire.

          2. They found two journalists…

            No, they found a group of men, some of whom were carrying what appeared to be weapons. The apache crews did not know that two of the men were journalists. Tragedy ensued, but no crime was committed.

            Firing on the van was a mistake; it should not have happened. Making the case that firing on the van was a crime seems a little more plausible to me.

            1. They saw two men carrying shoulder bags. We know after the fact that they found two journalists. My post was less precise than it should have been, but it was not erroneous.

              1. I watched the video. One of the men was carrying what appeared to be an RPG. The edited video put up an arrow pointing to the RPG-looking thing and labeled it as a telephoto lens. It looked like an RPG to me.

                1. I wonder how the Secret Service would react to people hiding behind corners while pointing things that looked like RPGs at Obama.

            2. To make a charge (or even a suggestion) of murder stick, wikileaks — along with some of the slow leaks making comments here — must realize that would require the chopper pilots KNEW there were two Reuters reporters among the people milling about near a hostile engagement zone, KNEW the van contained innocent children and civilians who chanced on the scene and stopped only to render medical aid to the wounded.

              I’m not buying it.

              Prove to me this was a willful attack by soldiers with intent to kill what they knew to be unarmed civilians; prove to me these guys knew there were children in the van when they opened fire and I’ll buy a charge of murder.

              The first part of the video shows our soldiers violently attacking and killing apparently armed people who appear to be setting up an ambush on friendly forces. Lest we forget, this is a war zone full of not-always-so-apparently armed people who don’t wear uniforms and often hide among the general populace.

              Be revolted.

              Be repulsed.

              Be horrified.

              But don’t be surprised.

              They did their job people — that’s what we train and pay them to do. It’s ugly, disgusting and terrifying; and it’s why war should be a last resort.

              This was a tragic case of mistaken identity. According to the NYT: David Schlesinger, the editor in chief of Reuters news, said in a statement that the video was “graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result.”

              The second part of the video shows the same chopper crews firing on a van of innocent civilians and children which shows up on the scene of a firefight. There is no indication the chopper crews knew there were civilians or children in the van. Nor did they simply open fire indiscriminately — they asked for permission per the rules of engagement.

              Listen carefully to the radio chatter and it’s apparent permission was granted to engage the van and kill its occupants because a friendly ground force was enroute to the engagement area.

              Here’s a thought: If you can pound the bad guys from the air instead of confronting them directly with ground forces you increase your chances of avoiding the loss of American lives. While this tactic certainly increases the likelihood of collateral damage, no one can argue its efficay as a militarily sound approach.

              When someone offers facts proving there was intent to kill innocents, and not just play on the natural emotions of revulsion and horror evoked by the macabre visuals of modern warfare and wounded children, then I will accept a charge of murder.

              Methinks the rabid reaction by many — based on the preoccupation with disturbing quotes of soldiers’ comments — is driven by the emotional distress of witnessing the obvious zeal and apparent heartlessness with which our soldiers do their jobs. I have family members who work in medicine. Some of the comments exchanged between medical professionals about sick, dying or dead patients — twisted and disturbing comments these paragons of human dignity often consider hysterical — would likely be considered highly unprofessional by those not involved in dealing daily with sick, dying and dead patients.

              It’s not disrespect; it’s not a lack of empathy; it’s a coping mechanism.

              I would respecfully submit that understanding the emotions behind the banter and bravado of soldiers in action is difficult for those who have never served.

              Jes sayin…

        2. Watch the Full and unedited video. It seems much less like murder when there is context given to the situation.

        3. if you actually listened to the chatter between the apache pilots and their superiors, you can hear the upper-ups give the pilots permission to fire. listen next time. YOU get an F.

  2. thank you…I can stop my coverage now.

  3. The New York Times has confirmed that Wikileaks edited out 21 minutes of the tape. Why would they do that?…

    1. My initial thought would be because you can’t put a 38-minute video on Youtube. Of course, that’s just a guess.

    2. Because much of the tape is just footage of waiting around?

    3. From the story you linked to:

      WikiLeaks released the full 38-minute video as well as a 17-minute edited version.

  4. Thanks Doherty and wikileaks. Before seeing this video, I thought I would be perfectly safe from friendly fire while walking around a war zone. Now I know that US soldiers aren’t cybernetic organisms that can psychically tell whether I’m a journalist with an armed entourage or one of many plains-clothes insurgents/militia members. Thank you again.

    1. Besides, it wasn’t like it was American kids and civilians getting shot down in an American city. Then we might have a problem.

    2. And you also know our heroic soldiers can’t be expected to not fire upon wounded civilians and the civilians (and their children) who discover and attempt to help them. That would have required extra reading or something.

      1. Well the van was unmarked and the medical permits were non-existant…the plain clothed “health care providers” were very suspicious…I didn’t see any stethocscopes…how do we know he wasn’t just trying to take that guys wallet.

        My honest opinion is that thhe inusrgents in that van were going to gang-rape that guy then use the associated guilt to try and convert the dude into a suicide bomber…so it was really a heroic act. If he hadn’t gotten that guy he would have probably blown up the sears tower one day. As the Pentagon and the New york times tells us…wikileaks is just editing everything there out of context, stop being so naive folks.

        1. ^^^Not funny, not clever. F.

      2. You know, ass, no one has said this was anything other than awful. The question is if it was murder.

    3. Cytotoxic, I don’t know if you watched the video, but the gunship video shows the pilots observing civilians walking peacefully in their neighborhood, not a war zone. The seconds right before the gunship opens fire is the most damning, because the gunner sights in on a gathering of people engaged in no hostile or threatening behavior at all. And then he murders the entire group.

      1. So all US soldiers should wait until fired on by an armed group before engaging? This is the US Army not UN peacekeeping. Neither are psychic, but the former are relatively effective.

        1. So all US police should wait until fired on by a criminal before engaging? This is the US police not UN peacekeeping. Neither are psychic, but the former are relatively effective.

          Fixed that for you. I find it fascinating how many libertarians make excues for tyranny abroad while criticizing tyranny at home.

          1. Except is isnt the police, just declaring it to be so does not make it true.

            1. So when the police slaughters civilians in the US indiscriminately it’s wrong but when the army does it abroad it’s justified?

              1. Apples and strawmen, bitch.

                1. Thank you. Strawmantastic.

            2. but just declaring it a “war zone” does make it morally right to shoot vans full of children when they try to save a terrorist before he drwons in his own blood.

              1. Again, NO ONE IS SAYING THAT. The question is whether it was murder-that is, outside the ROE. Awful stuff happens in war. In fact, war is nothing but awful things happening. What you should be questioning is whether the war was necessary.

                hint: It wasn’t.

              2. “…does make it morally right to shoot vans full of children…”

                No, not if you know the van has children in it. The pilot did not know there were children present, the video makes that clear.

                1. Haji forgot to put that “Baby on Board” sticker in his window.

                  1. My son is a Marine over there and I hope that he does not wait to be fired upon before he shots and comes back home alive.

          2. Is Cytotoxic a libertarian?

            1. No. I’m an Objectivist.

          3. another thing to mention is that there is no immediate need to start killing. There are no American forces in harms way, and the helicopters themselves are miles away. There was absolutely no reason to begin firing on a peaceful crowd without understanding who they were.

            1. Sorry not how counter-insurgency works. They don’t all have name tags and color-coded clothing.

              1. I’m not sure a uniform should be required to take photographs.

        2. “”This is the US Army not UN peacekeeping.””

          We accomplished regime change before 2007. Standing between two sides trying to prevent civil war is peacekeeping.

        3. No… but that is sort of the point. Military is unfit for this sort of situation. It is a warzone, yes, but in large part due to the fact there is a military there. It is also daily life. It’s a sticky predicament at the very least. But there are several good arguments for us getting the fuck out at that point right here. Let Iraqis risk their lives and more importantly use their less-biased judgment and more civilian-oriented faculties to defend their own government and society. It is “going on” now but it should have happened quite a while ago.

      2. Except for the guy who was hiding behind a building with some sort of device you mean. I think it was wrong, but I’m not going to condem it. I’ll condem the retards who put military in a city, thats fucking idiotic, but military kills, their not cops. Err.. okay so cops here kill alot… and raid shit.. okay fuck.. we have issuues..

      3. It doesn’t work like that.

      4. 2nd try, they appeared to be scurrying, not “walking peacefully”. One was carrying an RPG, though WikiLeaks identified it as a telephoto lens. It was a very large telephoto lens, and it looked like an RPG to me.

    4. We also now know that some US soldiers have an almost onanistic enthusiasm for their work.

      1. I am glad that they do. The more people enjoying their work and doing it at the very best of their trained abilities, the better.
        Some other people might want to learn to like their job too.

  5. I don’t care to debate which cameras looked like guns and which RPG’s were pointed where. There is plenty of uncertainty there. However, most of the defenders of these actions ignore the real issues.

    1.Destroying a makeshift ambulance promotes terrorism in all it’s forms. This does not make us safer.

    2.Destroying a makeshift ambulance does not make oil cheaper. Some of brainwashed set here seem to still cling to the idea that we are in Iraq for “cheap oil” which is the LEAST believable reason for the war. Bush and Cheney came into their presidency making many public statement about the horrors of “cheap oil’. Saudi Arabia(the close US ally and islamo fundamentalist redicalizing agent) repeatedly threaten Sadam because he was producing “too much” oil. Bush-Cheney texas buddies were particularly hard hit by $15,$20 and $30 oil because they were marginal supplier int he world market at those low prices!

    3.Destroying a makeshift ambulance is not gonna spread “democracy”.

    Thus, all the official reasons for us wasting our resources in the middle east are BS. If you do not acknowledge that then you are in fact not “supporting the troops”….you are helping send kids to their death for BS reasons.

    1. but it makes me feel tough

    2. Destroying a makeshift ambulance promotes terrorism in all it’s forms. This does not make us safer.

      Did this ambulance have a red cross/crescent on it?

      Also, how does destroying it promote terrorism?

      1. Because this video will be shown in schools of jihad as what the infidels do. I’m guessing. In that sense, it’s wikileaks that’s promoting terrorism.

        1. right, wikileaks is basically a terrorist organization. we need to shot people who have guns, shoot unmarked vans and kill everything in any area that the pentagon PR flak says is a war zone and we need to kill anyone who insist that only congress can declare war. This video is unfortunate, but the actual killing was kinda awesome! we need to kick butt like this more often.

          1. In 2007 New Baghdad was a war zone.

        2. locals already accept that this is what they do- they suffer constantly from predator strikes, random shootings and Al Jazeera does a good job of documenting it for them. Wikileaks is helping us to understand what we are doing overseas, and when our leaders lie to us.

    3. 1.) Destroying a makeshift ambulance promotes terrorism in all it’s forms.

      It does? Why? How? You’re using one example of the US military shooting stuff, and ignoring any context whatsoever, and this is your proof of terrorism promotion? What about the terrorists who put innocent civilians in harms way? Do they share any blame?

      2.Destroying a makeshift ambulance does not make oil cheaper.

      Wow is that some powerful stupid. We didn’t go to Iraq to make oil cheaper or more expensive, despite what your tin foil tells you.

      3.Destroying a makeshift ambulance is not gonna spread “democracy”.

      How do you know? Iraq is far more democratic now than it has been since Saddam was in power. I’m not minimizing the tragedy here, but Iraqi’s are no longer under the bootheel of one of the worst dictators in modern times.

      1. Wow is that some powerful stupid. We didn’t go to Iraq to make oil cheaper or more expensive, despite what your tin foil tells you.

        I’m pretty sure that oil, Israel and the conflict between those two interests has driven much of our action in the middle east, at least before 9/11. This is hardly a “foil hat” position to take.

  6. Destroying a makeshift ambulance promotes terrorism in all it’s forms.

    I’m not arguing that shooting up the unmarked van that turned out to be a makeshift ambulance doesn’t help.

    However, it was unmarked, drove up to the scene of what was believed to be a group of insurgents, and unloaded men in plain clothes. Was the decision to “engage” it a bad decision, in context, at the time?

    Not clearly so, in my opinion.

    Its a shame this happened, no question. Is it a war crime? Not as far as I can tell.

    1. “Its a shame this happened, no question. Is it a war crime?”

      Of course not, it’s just a way for Wikileaks to self-promote. I suspect that’s why they haven’t released the full tape (21 minutes edited out). Why else would they elect not to show the entire thing? I guess we’ll have to wait until Wikileaks primary competitor — SuperDuperWikileaks — gets hold of the entire thing and leaks it in its entirety.

      1. well, I guess that the Pentagon could release the remaining footage which we all know would justify the shooting. It is a little strange that they haven’t been so forthcoming, almost like they are trying to hide a crime….

      2. The full 39 minutes is right here, you lying sack of shit:

          1. If this doesn’t make you angry, then there’s something wrong with you. Did you laugh along with our heroes?

            1. this doesn’t make me angry. it’s tragic, sure, but it’s a war zone.

            2. I can’t watch the vid from work, so I’m holding judgement. I just think your anger is misplaced, since you’re directing it at folks here questioning the motives of Wikileaks and context of the incident itself.

              1. Yes, I’m directing it at people who are lying about the video being dishonestly edited, when the full version is available on WikiLeaks. If these people had even bothered to click thru, they would have seen that.

                1. The Orwell quote and the heart-tugging tribute to the slain journalists at the very least suggest that the editors of the video are promoting their interpretation of the event. Had they left that editorializing out entirely, it would be straight journalism, but it also would fail to achieve its clearly identifiable intent of coercing every viewer of the video to view it from the start from the perspective of it being a “murder.”

                  1. Did they post the whole video or not?

              2. And even if WikiLeaks is run by fucking demons with the worst of intentions, that doesn’t change a single thing on the tape, does it?

                1. Hey, a? Maybe you oughta, you know, give people time to analyze it and draw their own conclusions, instead of trying to lockstep them into yours with vitriol.

                  You might be right, you might be wrong. But screaming at people for questioning things about it sure ain’t winning you any supporters.

                  1. But screaming at people for questioning things about it sure ain’t winning you any supporters.
                    I don’t give a damn what conclusion they reach. They obviously reached a conclusion before even watching the tape. But they shouldn’t lie about the tape being dishonestly edited when it’s not. That’s not a matter of interpretation, idiot.

                    1. And you obviously reached a conclusion about everyone who questions the motives behind the tape, anyone who might disagree, and you get yourself whipped up into a froth of indignant rage that I suggest you ease up.

                      Wipe the rabid, foaming spittle from your chin and try again.

                    2. “I don’t give a damn what conclusion they reach.”

                      The get the fuck out of here you useless ranting cunt.

                  2. People who would state, without checking, that Wikileaks didn’t post the full tape – when they did post the full tape – deserve vitriol.

                    Because they are cunts. And cunts should be called cunts.

                    1. but but…we called “war zone” first…so it was good to kill the people in the van. Now if they had called “chinese takebacks” then this would have been murder..but otherwise this is all good.

                    2. Initially, they only posted 17 minutes.

                    3. Cunt cunt cunt cunt, cunt cunt, cunt Cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt – cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt cunt – cunt cunt.

                      Cunt cunt cunt fluffy. Cunt fluffy cunt cunt cunt fluffy.

                      See how COOL that is?

                2. Sorry about my friend a. He recently switched to decaffeinated coffee.

                3. The motives of Wikileaks is irrelevant, but titling the video, “Collateral Murder” does put their spin on it, don’t you agree?

                  It was not murder, IMO, but it was tragic and a mistake.

        1. Well, that’s what I get for beleiving the NYT.


          1. Wow, that’s not a mistake a libertarian would ever make. You need to be held back a grade.

    2. I do not think that having a “unmarked van” and being dressed in “plain clothes” should be a death penalty type crime.

      It is difficult to not riducle you here, what about all those unmarked buildings and the children in plain clothes running around in a city? clearly we need to teach them a lesson too.

      1. “It is difficult to not riducle you here”

        Project much?

        1. There’s something about that statement of Gabe’s that amuses me.

          Oh, irony. How I love thee.

      2. I think you should review the definition of a ‘war zone’. Tragic? Yes. Criminal? No, not in my opinion.

        1. So there was a declared state of war between the United States and Iraq?

          Or are you just saying that wherever the U.S. decides to point its guns is a war zone and anyone who is shot should have known not to stand in front of U.S. guns?

          1. Im saying if you are in an area where the US military is fighting, you are probably in a war zone. Vietnam was a war zone even though there was never a declared state of war, but, if you prefer, replace ‘war zone’ with ‘combat zone’, I.E. someplace where you know in advance that lost of people are trying to kill one another.

        2. I approve of this method of dealing with the resistance.

        3. ya what were those kids thinking when they decided to grow up in a war zone?It is almost like they don’t appreciate how we are giving them all these rights they take for granted.

          1. How the fuck does that make what those soldiers did criminal? Yes this is tragic, but war is tragic and there is a substantial difference between what happens in war and what happens on any given city street.

            1. wdidn’t you know war is not hell…war is a magical way to end terrorism and and promote democracy…we are doing these people a favor.

              1. Tiresome troll is exhausting.

      3. I do not think that having a “unmarked van” and being dressed in “plain clothes” should be a death penalty type crime.

        Actually, IIRC, according to the laws of war, if you are carrying arms but not wearing a uniform or are otherwise marked, you are not entitled to the protections of the Geneva convention and can be killed.

        1. That is not true.

          You have to be actually engaged in using those arms.

          You are basically arguing that in the event of war or insurrection, all military forces are allowed to exterminate and execute every last civilian in the area who owns or possesses a weapon. In that case, I have dibs on all members of Focus on the Family with gun permits the next time an act of terrorism takes place anywhere in the USA.

          1. True. And they never should’ve gained authorization to fire on that van.

          2. Ahh…

            Good point, Fluffy. They must be engaged.

          3. The second amendment doesn’t require me to have a uniform. If our country is attacked, and I grab my weapon, run outside and start shooting, I’m an unlawful comabatant?

            1. Yeah, technically, but my guess is that someone invading the US isn’t going to care a whole hell of a lot about the Geneva convention anyway. Nations that do don’t tend to go around invading each other.

              1. “Nations that do don’t tend to go around invading each other.”

                So what you’re sayin’ is the US doesn’t give a damn about the Geneva Conventions?

  7. “Luckily, thanks to Wikileaks, you can decide for yourself what you think of those rules with a bit more context”

    Important context. Like a George Orwell quote and two and a half minutes of tear-jerking setup.

    Don’t get me wrong, what happened there is horrible and they fucked up big time, but the way Wikileaks has manufactured this video is clear propaganda. Sure, they give you the video to make up your own mind, but they set it up so most people will see ONLY their take on the situation.


    1. You are fucking retarded.

      If the government wanted a chance to put their own spin on the tape, they should have released it themselves. Then they could have put up whatever “context” they thought was appropriate.

      But they didn’t do that, did they?

      If I have to bust my ass to find and decrypt a piece of battlefield video that the military is hiding and trying to suppress, you can fucking-ay bet that I’m going to present it to you with whatever context I AND I ALONE think is correct. If it takes you two more clicks to see the whole video yourself, THAT IS TOO MOTHERFUCKING BAD.

      The only thing “shameful” here is that you think other people owe deference to your bias even when they offer you the chance to view the raw footage.

      1. Well, I’m not jumping in the battle although I take issue with one point. I can’t find anywhere that references the encryption algorithm used, but if it was military grade or anything professional, there’s no f*cking way the wikileaks crowd decrypted it. Unless they have a few hundred super computers sitting aroudn running for 100 years or so. If it was some home spun encryption – then maybe, but if this was military grade or even strong commercial like triple des (or even PGP for that matter), that part of the story is mighty suspect.

        Before you hop on my ass for pionting this out – i’ll state up front it doesn’t change a thing about the context of the story or whether this was or wasn’t murder – I just find that one thing really hard to swallow. Assuming that’s intentional and that it was a serious algorithm, you can draw your own conclusions about why that piece might be added to the story

        1. Bill, they are probably trying to direct away speculations about their source

      2. I don’t think anyone owes me anything and I don’t see why you think I would. I simply stated that Wikileaks is presenting this with a clear agenda and that it is shameful. I’m well aware the military would do the exact same thing. All I was doing was pointing out their propaganda, which you seem to agree it is such. I simply think it is shameful for them to do so, you do not. I’m not sure why that causes you such anger.

        1. “I don’t think anyone owes me anything and I don’t see why you think I would. I simply stated that Wikileaks is presenting this with a clear agenda and that it is shameful. ”

          Wikileaks is an activist organization. They are not a journalist organization.

          Some might say though that the propaganda is further evidence that Wikileaks is really a government organization as some conspiracy theorists have been proposing recently.

  8. “The New York Times with U.S. Central Command’s perspective:”

    but I repeat myself.


      Only a moron would equate the perspective of the NYT with Central Command’s.

      1. Yeah, Judith Miller’s paper hates the Pentagon.

        1. They canned that bitch years ago.

          Epic. Fail

          Now go post your drivel over at Kos.

          1. They canned that bitch years ago.

            A sad day for you, I’m sure. Have you retracted your lie about WikiLeaks not posting the full video yet?

            1. Have you stopped foaming at the mouth yet?

          2. The New York Times has been one of the most steadfast supporters of ALL Bush and Obama administration actions in the War on Terror and in both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. They seriously compete with WorldNetDaily on being pro-war.

            Anyone, and I mean anyone, who thinks that the liberal history of the Times has had any impact on their resolutely pro-war stance over the last 9 years is an absolute fucking retard.

            1. no fluffy…the people who claim they are the “Defenders Of The Troops” are right. The New York times(Tom Friedman, David Brooks all those anti-war guys) is far left so you see they hate these wars and if even they agree with the Pentagon then you must be a tinfoil hatter to disagree.

              You don’t have the sophisticated understanding of the media that the “Defenders Of The Troops” have.

              next you will be telling us people in unmarked vans should just be allowed to pick up any isurgents they want as they crawl down the street. That would lead to islamofacism.

          3. And now that bitch is working at Fox News, where she should’ve been all along, surrounded by the other liars who are not journalists.

  9. The facts of what happened aren’t subject to interpretation, but everything surrounding the event is. And those of us who wish to see nefarious motives will see them, and those of use who don’t want to see anything but human error…

    But these events are consistent with other things I’ve seen. And the first example that springs to mind is what we saw documented in Control Room

    …specifically the part where US forces appear to take out all the non sanctioned journalists covering the apparently staged pulling down of the Saddam Hussein statute, an image we’re all familiar with.

    We’ll probably never know for certain whether this was done on purpose, but it’s not like this kind of thing has never happened before. Governments everywhere really are concerned about how their actions are portrayed in the media, and governments all over the world have resorted to all sorts of evil to try to control what people see and read about them.

    I don’t see why the people of the United States should ever assume our government is immune to that sort of thing, and if you haven’t seen “Control Room”…

    You’re missing out.

    It’s not like laws and sausages, you really do want to see how the the truth is made in the media, and there’s probably no better documentary about that.

    1. Based on the dialogue in the video leading up to the engagement, it would appear that the shooter actually believed the group in question to be armed insurgents. Now, a reasonable critique can be had because this guy did seem a bit trigger happy so its not entirely a stretch to believe that he saw what he wanted to see, but I got the impression from the commentary that he genuinely believed this to be a group of armed insurgents. An error of “good faith” that has horrible implications does not translate to a bloodthirsty and wreckless demonstration of violence.

      As was stated well by Seward: this kind of fog and unfortunate killing (I think the term murder used by the video promoters here is a loaded and connotative term being used in this context for persuasive effect) is what happens in wars, the “good” ones like WWII and the “bad” ones alike. If we want to stop this shit, we must stop wars from happening, which is a laudable libertarian goal.

      1. “A laudable libertarian goal” is a much better phrase than “the ultimate libertarian goal.”

      2. “Now, a reasonable critique can be had because this guy did seem a bit trigger happy so its not entirely a stretch to believe that he saw what he wanted to see, but I got the impression from the commentary that he genuinely believed this to be a group of armed insurgents.

        I was thinking more in terms of whoever ordered these guys into the area in the first place–what were they told to be on the look out for?

        In Control Room, we see the planes that fired on the journalists. We know that the journalists knew the US was going to do something there, but I don’t know that the pilot was ordered to kill all the journalists at the opposite ends of the square.

        For all we know, the pilots may have been told to watch out for snipers on the roofs of those buildings and to take out any snipers they say before the convoy arrived at the statue…

        If you tell me to look out for snipers or insurgents and where to look for them, everybody there’s gonna look like a sniper or insurgent to me.

        That’s all I was trying to say. We don’t know who sent them there, what they were told to look out for, what the situation was, or why they were sent there in the first place. And we–you and me–we’re prone to interpret those motivations surrounding the facts in terms of our own biases.

        I wasn’t talking about the guy’s biases in what they saw, really, I was talking about our own. The question isn’t really about what we see and what happened, the questions are about what we’ll never see that happened up the chain of command. Was this done on purpose?

        We all fill in the blanks with our own biases.

        1. “I was thinking more in terms of whoever ordered these guys into the area in the first place–what were they told to be on the look out for?”

          Great point K. Shultz. Being a former soldier who spent time in Iraq from ’03-’04, the intel we are given that states what to look out for is huge in determining how we do the mission. None the less, horrible tragedy. I like the “laudable Libertarian goal” of just stopping wars from happening. Thats the core problem here.

      3. +1 for sensibility. +10 for execution.

  10. R.C. Dean,

    Actually, these are the fruits of war. Don’t want to this happen? Don’t engage in warfare.

    1. Addendum:
      Don’t use the shoulder strap on your camera
      Don’t gather around outside
      Don’t try to help wounded journalists
      Don’t have a clear line of sight from a U.S. gunship to yourself
      Don’t live in Iraq when the United States comes to free you

      There. Avoid all those things and you should be safe.

      1. The point Seward is making isn’t “don’t be in a warzone.” He is saying that there is, as the cliche goes, a “fog of war” where bad shit happens to innocent people in each and every combat situation in the modern era. The only way we can prevent these things from happening is to stop wars from happening at all, which is the ultimate libertarian goal.

        1. The only way we can prevent these things from happening is to stop wars from happening at all, which is the ultimate libertarian goal.

          The ultimate libertarian goal is the promotion of freedom, and war destroys that freedom directly and indirectly– yet there are rare things even worse. You don’t have to defend the Iraq War to agree that a world without war but ruled by one or more totalitarian states would not be “the ultimate libertarian goal.”

          1. Saying that the ultimate Libertarian goal is to stop war from happening at all is not the same as saying we want a world ruled by one or more totalitarian states.

        2. there is collateral damage, “fog of war” etc… and there is slaughter. Acknowledging that bad shit happens to innocent people doesn’t excuse Mai Lai, the rape of Nanjing, Bloody Sunday, or targeting groups of random people. This is why we have laws of war.

          1. Correct. And nothing in the video looks like a violation of the laws of war.

            1. Except for the part where they lied to their superior to obtain permission to fire by claiming that the men from the van were removing weapons from the scene when it was clear they were all engaged in attempting to lift the reporter into the van. Seems like passing misinformation up the chain to get fire clearance should be against the “laws of war,” if indeed it isn’t.

    2. I didn’t realize libertarians were such pussies.

      1. Libertarians don’t care for war, unless as a last resort. I think that’s just being sensible.

      2. clearly you aren’t a real man unless you cheer on the deaths of others safely far away from yourself.

  11. …machine guns and grenades found near the bodies of those killed

    Machine guns and grenades? That seems rather heavy for reporter and cameraman escorts.

    1. It was AK-47s (an assault rifle, not a machine gun…you would think the army would know the difference) and rocket launchers before the engagement.

      Sorta makes you wonder if they didn’t go back and “sprinkle a little crack on them” when the hummers pulled up.

  12. A couple of children were in the van and killed.
    Actually the two children survived. Check out for interviews with the kids and their mother.
    The New York Times has confirmed that Wikileaks edited out 21 minutes of the tape. Why would they do that?
    Again check out the website above for the full 40 minutes video.

  13. @Seward: wow, super-helpful advice! Hey, want to avoid getting injured on the road? Don’t crash!

    1. It is good advice, actually. War means death, that is just the bottom line. We all come to believe that our war fighting machine is perfect and only kills the bad guys, but that is simply not the case. We are much better at target identification than we (or anyone else) ever has been in the past, but that does not mean that mistakes dont get made.

      The only difference between this and literally thousands of other civilians that died in that conflict is someone here in the west cares about these particular civilians.

  14. Shit happens.

  15. so Reuters the NyTimes and the Pentagon hide this stuff…Reason refuses to cover it until they are badgered into it and then they criticize Wikileaks because they don’t like the editing on a 17 minute video? You guys had access to the same materials and sat on it…keep the people in the dark…great journalistic guidelines.

    I can see that the same people who think our foreign policy was great before will not change their minds after a couple dangerously plain clothes journalists/and scarily unmarked vans are shot in a war. However, it is always amazing to see how phony cognitive dissonance conservatives will call the NY Times the the representative of Marxism on domestic issues then act as if their shit is all above aboard on foreign policy.

    1. Reason thought our foreign policy was great before? Are you reading the same magazine or is this just self righteous chest thumping?

        1. It’s Gabe, so I think you know it’s self-righteous chest-bumping.

    2. …do you even READ Reason?

    3. Dude. You think they wouldn’t have covered it if not for your badgering rain dancing?

      You need to calm down. This isn’t freaking CNN. Sometimes the editors may take a whole day before they opine on something.

  16. Anyway, thank you for reminding us again that the Republicans are asshats.

  17. First, just what is it that you think these guys were up to? Some of them were clearly armed and they were massing in an area of operations, during an armed conflict. Were they members of the local bowling league out for a stroll? Does Reuters make a habit of embedding both a “journalist” and a photographer with members of peaceful Iraqi civic organizations?

    Second, just what was the Reuters photographer hoping to document in the company of armed men in an active war zone? If they were simply minding their own business, what was Rueters’ interest? What was the point?

    And to suggest that the American pilots deliberately targeted kids is just Bullshit. These terrorist assholes have a history of using women and children as shields in combat. They deliberately operate out of schools, hospitals and mosques.

    The real question here is why any “news” organization which embeds “journalists” with our enemies is allowed access to our troops and bases of command. Outfits like Reuters should not be trusted when they have a foot in both camps. If anyone is responsible for the deaths of these “journalists” it is the fool who thought it was smart to embed people with our enemies during a conflict.

    1. I generally agree, and I would furthermore add that this story can’t be properly judged without a lot more context. What is the recent history of that particular area in the conflict? Is the area a known gathering spot for insurgents? Etc.

      I would also add that more than one member of our military is at this very moment facing military prosecution for his conduct during the wars, so any notion that our government is blithely ignoring war crimes being committed by our own troops is blatantly untrue.

      If there’s one thing I despise more than an armchair quarterback, it’s an armchair field commander.

      1. But, but, guns…America…the evil…

      2. But… but… VITRIOL! INVECTIVE! BABY-KILLER! WARMONGER! Can’t you SEE?!?!

      3. What is the recent history of that particular area in the conflict? Is the area a known gathering spot for insurgents? Etc…

        New Baghdad was, and is, an insurgent stronghold much like Sadr City.

    2. You can give the dates of Iraqi terrorist attacks upon the United States? No, attacks upon our forces in Iraq don’t count. They are nothing more than any person would do when their land is invaded.

      1. What’s that have to do with the price of tea in China?

        1. Che is calling them terrorists.

      2. “You can give the dates of Iraqi terrorist attacks upon the United States?”

        You can start your education here:

        Putin says Iraq planned US attack, BBC

        I’m certain that if Bush had ignored these warnings, and an attack had occurred, people like you would have been calling for impeachment.

        1. How much faith to you put in Putin honesty?

          1. If he gives me supporting material? Completely.

      3. Of course you’re confused, you’re debating the merits of the war, which you’ll find that none, or at least virutally none of us here, will defend.

        That said, this debate is about what happens in war, the rules of engagement, and the intentions of combatants. There are plenty of reasonable critiques of the action presented in this video, but to say that you don’t see anything thats an ipso facto violation of rules of engagement isnt to defend the underlying conflict the combatants are there for.

        In fact, I think by stating that this is the sad reality of what happens in war even when the best of intentions are used, the rules of engagement are observed to a T, and the minimization of civilian casualties is a goal, it provides even more ammunition (no pun intended) for the libertarian position that war should be an absolute option of last resort only to be exercized in self-defense from direct attack.

        1. “for the libertarian position that war should be an absolute option of last resort only to be exercized in self-defense from direct attack.”

          Which is an immoral position. Not to mention unsustainable. To not defend others when in need is immoral and will eventually lead to you needing, ironically, to go to war and much harder than what you earlier avoided at the expense of the others you sacrificed for your principles. And how do you ask for their help after you abandoned them. If life was as easy as stating principle, we would have already stopped wars a long time ago.

          1. The problem is that people like you will propagandize conflicts in which both sides are morally equal [like World War I, for example] as occasions where we have to “defend others in need”.

            When the day comes when people like you stop lying, then we can talk about there being a moral requirement for me to act in the defense of others. Not until then, though.

          2. I really love it when someone uses the word “unsustainable”. It usually, as here, means the rest of their argument will be silly and illogical.

        2. Well said, Sudden.

    3. You have absolutely no evidence that these men were insurgents. None.

      Blackwater guards felt free to stroll around Iraq armed to the teeth for years. Are you seriously asserting that it was OK for foreign mercs to perform armed guard duties, but that if citizens of Iraq dared to carry weapons, they should presumptively be considered insurgents and killed on sight? That NO citizen of Iraq was entitled to own a weapon, even though fucking merc trash walked around carrying whatever weapons they wanted?

      1. +1

        It is as if they think gun rights are a bad idea. These are probably the same people who think the 2nd amendment is only supported by “hate groups”.

        “hate groups”=”insurgents”=”anti-war nuts”=”terrorists”=Ron Paul supporters. It all runs together for those who suckle at the testicles of government.

        1. These guys had the misfortune of being unidentified and in the same area as hostile small-arms fire.

          1. By your line of reasoning, if someone breaks into my house and they see me with a gun, they have the right to shoot me.

            1. I don’t think you followed my line of reasoning at all.

        2. …what PLANET are you from?

          I’m a huge supporter of gun rights. You can be anti-war and pro-gun rights. I’m not against war myself, but it had better be a very last resort.

          Most people here just don’t think this was premeditated murder, but a tragedy. Then again, when you send teenagers into combat, bad shit can happen. No one’s saying it’s right, or okay, that it happened.

          Jesus, you need to stop spewing your foaming indignation all over the place. Keep your splooge in your fucking pants.

        3. “suckle at the testicles of government.”

          I love it.

  18. I think debating whether or not these soldiers should be tried for war crimes misses the point. These things happened because WE TURNED IRAQ INTO A WAR ZONE. Perhaps we can reform military policy to prevent situations like this in the future. Maybe we can’t. But certainly this wouldn’t have happened if we had pulled out of Iraq before 2007.

    As such, the issue as I see it is whether our actions in Iraq are of such important that we are willing to tolerate actions like those observed in the video.

    1. Um, make that either “whether our actions in Iraq are of such import” or “whether our actions in Iraq are so important.” Your choice.

      1. Hey professor. You can “suck on my left testicle” or you can “suckle my right testicle.” Your choice.

    2. These things happened because WE TURNED IRAQ INTO A WAR ZONE… But certainly this wouldn’t have happened if we had pulled out of Iraq before 2007.

      Certainly something similar would have happened, with different perpetrators. The US military’s intentions certainly don’t make these people any less dead, but they also wouldn’t be any less dead if they were killed by Saddam’s forces or by chaos after a pullout.

      But surely, yes, anyone who contemplates war should realize that these sorts of terrible things happen, and should weight it in the costs.

  19. That’s why the military has earned the reflexive trust of so many here. You have to give this giant, immensely powerful arm of the government the benefit of the doubt because of their long history of honesty and efficiency.…

    Seriously, it’s always clear when a story like this runs that so many here are only for limited government when it’s the kind leftists want.

    Reflexively defending the military, giving the benefit of the doubt to an institution that has, throughout its long history, repeatedly and consistently lied, is no different than worshiping Obama or trusting the state to provide everyone with quality health-care and education. It’s no different than giving cops the benefit of the doubt. Not one bit. A statist by any other name…

    1. I second that!

    2. I’ve only been here for a short time, but it seems like Reason’s favorite pastime is deciding which libertarians are the most statist.

      You call reflexive what I call critical examination. I don’t think we should believe a spoonfed story whether that story comes from a public institution or a private one.

      I’ve watched the video and I see a tragedy. However, I see a tragedy caused by incompetence, not maliciousness. It’s well known our soldiers can be trigger happy and it’s a huge problem that the Pentagon doesn’t seem to be addressing. That’s why I think they should be criticized for trying to cover it up and forget about it. But I’m not going to join others screaming murder.

      1. I’m not even sure I see incompetence, just Error. Shit Happens is an awful cliche but sometimes it’s reasonably true. It’s easy to go back and look at what you could have done differently but, I imagine, hard to do on the battlefield. And as many others have pointed out it’s not at all clear what the background was immediately prior to this.

        It’s an awful tragedy and a mistake. It’s not clear it was murder – that doesn’t mean it wasn’t, but just that it’s not readily apparent.

        1. Begging for people to give you an excuse to shoot them without penalty isn’t “shit happening.” It is a cultivated mindset.

    3. Believing that either that the military should be perfect or that the world would be perfect without one is no different from believe that Obama is perfect or trusting the state to achieve perfection. A statist millenarian worldview, the unconstrained vision.

      Those who support military action thinking that it would be perfect are equally guilty.

    4. Also…

      “It’s no different than giving cops the benefit of the doubt. ”

      Sorry, but it’s completely different. They operating against an active insurgency whose intent is to kill them and civilians. It’s war. Not at all comparable to a SWAT team killing someone because they liked to get high.

      If you want to criticize us for even being there and creating the warzone situation in the first place, go ahead, I’ll happily join you. But they are NOT comparable situations.

      1. “It’s well known our soldiers can be trigger happy and it’s a huge problem that the Pentagon doesn’t seem to be addressing.”
        There is some credible comparison
        “because they liked to get high.” in my view. A lot of these guys get out of the military and become cops. In my state, the cops are pretty damned trigger happy and largely former military.

        1. Actually, GEN McChrystal addressed this problem very recently.

        2. I don’t really see how the fact that many cops are former military makes the situations similar. Any former military cop hopefully realizes they are two different jobs and have a completely different mindset in performing them.

          1. They “should” have a different mindset in performing them, but a lot of times they don’t.

  20. thanks for using the word ‘murder’ Brian – cause thats what it is – bloody murder

    1. No it’s not. The US military unfortunately killed innocent people. This is not a murder. Such things happen in all wars, including “good” wars. And they are done by “good” guys too. It would be logically consistent to decry each and every war. But once you go into a war, this stuff will happen even if you honestly do your best to avoid it.

      1. I wonder how many of today’s legions would really consider WWII the “good war” if they had the high resolution video of the fire bombing of Tokyo killing civs or the Dresden civ massacre. Perspective seems to be lost because the history channel can’t upconvert the resolution of its footage.

        1. Watch the History Channels latest WWII in HD stuff. The Saipan part in particular (the Bansai Cliff suicides) will make you understand just how insane the Japanese had become, and why using nukes was the best available option for LIMITING civilian casualty. Yes, you read that right.

      2. Deliberate killing of an innocent is always murder, war or not.

      3. Deliberate killing of an innocent is always murder, war or not.

  21. People making excuses for the US army here make me sick. I wonder how different they would see the situation if this was about a SWAT team shooting suspected drug dealers. Much easier to support murder when it’s done to foreigners.

    1. I wonder how different they would see the situation if this was about a SWAT team shooting suspected drug dealers.

      And other people wouldn’t have given a shit about the victims as long as they were being killed by foreign terrorists or dictators, either, regardless of intent. Much easier to turn a blind eye when it’s done by foreigners, too.

      1. But perhaps we should be paying more attention to what our own government is doing in our name through our tax dollars, then what foreign dictators are doing.

    2. War is hell, affenkopf.

      By its very nature, it is an atrocity.

      It is good that war is so terrible, lest we grow to fond of it.

      1. War is also a racket which is why government grows fond of it quickly.

      2. It is good that war is so terrible, lest we grow to fond of it.

        That was Lee, not Grant.

        1. Yes, I realize I am quoting two different people.

          How Grant comes into this I am not sure.

      3. War is the health of the state.

  22. Huh. War’s a bitch. Journalists are as aware as soldiers of the danger of “friendly” fire. An unfortunate incident. Murder? What the fuck ever. War – best not to go to war. I was opposed to going to war in Iraq. I am not a fan of our multifarious adventures and interventionism overseas. Everyone knows Iraq is a long term endeavor. Maybe 20 years from now the results will be favorable and beneficial to Iraq, the middle east, and the world, but this kind of crap will continue to happen in the short term. I say we gear up every member of Congress and send their asses over there. Wasn’t the savior-in-cheif supposed to have most of the troops home by now, or do we have a few months left?

  23. Who gives a fuck? Now this is something that’s worth getting worked up over:

    Legislation introduced last week could shift costs of union pension plans to taxpayers in an attempt to stave off organized labor’s pension funding crisis.

    Senator Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, introduced the Create Jobs & Save Benefits Act of 2010 to address the funding problems faced by union-administered multi-employer pension plans.

    Multi-employer pension plans have to cover the benefits of members, even if their companies are defunct. Currently the costs are shared among the companies that remain in the pool, but Casey’s bill proposes offloading them to the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC), a federal corporation, which backs the pensions of 44 million workers, more than 75 percent of which are nonunion.

    Read more:…..z0kLWblz9G

    1. FTA

      Meanwhile, unions recruit new members with promises of enduring financial stability.

      “The most important thing to know is that when unions advertise for recruitment, they make promises of guaranteed pensions and financial security, even though their pensions are on the critical list,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, director of the Center for Employment Policy at the Hudson Institute, and a former chief economist at the Department of Labor. “The financial data don’t back it up ? it’s false advertising.”

  24. Ever notice how when gabe really starts foaming at the mouth, comments agreeing with him from people never heard from before begin to appear in vast numbers?

    1. Did someone feed him after midnight again?

    2. Wow, SugarFree! You are very astute! And looking good… have you lost weight?

    3. Oh, God… SugarFree… Your the best commenter I’ve ever had.

      1. OK, now we know that this is a joke. Because after I banged his wife the other day, she told me that he’s never been with a blond before, because he believes they’re witches.

        1. She said you cried out my name. [cough]gay[cough]

          1. Well, I was drinking a Sugar Free Rockstar mixed with cocaine out of her ass at the time, so I guess that makes sense, doesn’t it?

            1. Now I know you’re lying. My wife doesn’t even have an ass, dummy.

              1. Not any more.

                And maybe it was your mom, maybe it was your wife; it’s all the same to you, so why should I have to differentiate?

                1. Shut up man, that’s my sister you’re talking about.

      2. His cum tastes just like a frappachino! I can’t drink enough of it (and boy does he produce it by the barrel!)!

        1. Diabetics excrete sugar in all bodily fluids. That’s why the ladies call me The Sweetcum Man.

          1. That has got to be made into a song!

            1. What did you think “Pour Some Sugar On Me” was about? Diabetic golden showers.

              Pour some sugar on me
              Ooh, in the name of love
              Pour some sugar on me
              C’mon fire me up
              Pour your sugar on me
              Oh, I can’t get enough

              I’m hot, sticky sweet
              From my head to my feet yeah

          2. I immediately read “the sweetcum man” to the tune of Tom Waits’s “Ice Cream Man”.

    4. +10

  25. meh, i saw the video, basically a group of men with AK-47s walking around, one of them with a long tube-like device kept popping around the corner pointing it at US troops & vehicles, so an Apache shot them up, and then an unmarked black van which came up and started loading guys in also got shot up

    turns out it was reporters using a long telephoto lens to take pictures of US troops, guarded by a group of armed guys

    so 2 stringers for Reuters were killed, along with their guards

    obviously, looking back it was a mistake and they should have done a bit more to establish who they were shooting at, but certainly not intentional or ridiculous

    1. That’s pretty much how I saw it, too.

    2. Same here.

      1. +1
        and as Sage says wikileaks is promoting terrorism, they are the problem. We should also not even talk about blowing up the van.

    3. Agree. Its amazing that some people try to paint this as US Soldiers deliberately killing journalists and children. Its one thing to be against the war, but you don’t have to make up bullshit to do it.

    4. plus, one other detail not mentioned in the video, is that the US ground troops in question had been taking hostile fire

  26. I won’t engage into discussion whether the killing was justified or not. I was never in the military, don’t understand the rules of engagement, don’t know how it feels to be in a war zone, and the closest I’ve come to any armed conflict was when I played Civilization the last time.

    For me, the discussion about the video focuses on two points:

    1. The military has refused to release the video, even under FOIA, and has obscured the investigation results. As is almost always the case, it was this ineptitude that created the worst PR results for the military: Pentagon is now once again seen as having something to hide or being ashamed of something. A person (like me) may question their motive in obfuscating the investigation.

    2. Wikileaks proved again the power of anonymity over the Interned. Whether they are using the video for some side motives may be open for discussion, but the simple fact that they did post something the Pentagon tried to hide and forced the military to respond is by itself a positive development.

    1. Yup, the points you made are very important.

      If it can be impressed upon those controlling the info that it is going to get out and probably once it is out it is going to be spun. Thus, it is in their best interest to release the tapes in short order.

      Perhaps the question they should be asking themselves is :

      “Do I want this released after I have attempted to cover it up and have someone like Wikileaks append Orwell quotes and journalist bios, or do I want to release this myself along with other videos and info that play up the conflict prior to the incident”.

      I would claim that one definitely wants to promote the release or get burned mindset within the military machine.

      1. Or, this could promote distrust of anyone who gets their hands on this kind of footage, and reinforce the desire to bury it.

  27. I tend to side with Gabe on this one.
    Sorry, but I calls ’em like I sees ’em.
    (Cosmotarian Overlord, however, can go fuck himself.)


      1. You’re still #1 in my heart, SF.

      1. Wait a minute, was that a Tommy Wiseau reference?

    2. Awesome. Since someone has stuck their neck out. Let me explain that some hear have misconstrued my position. I’m not advocating war crime trials or court martial or any of that shit on the guy in the helicopter…of course the ONLY responsible thing to assume when you start a war is that this stuff WILL happen. That is why it is particularly amazing to see the apologist here and elsewhere argue that we are doing this war to decrease terrorism or spread some wholesome democracy and we are doing these people a favor!

      1.Destroying a makeshift ambulance promotes terrorism in all it’s forms. This does not make us safer.

      2.Destroying a makeshift ambulance does not make oil cheaper.

      3.Destroying a makeshift ambulance is not gonna spread “democracy”.

      There is not a good reason to do this stuff unless you are just trying to promote profits for politically favored contractors, increase americans debt burden, make America weaker buy over stretching our resources, thus making us more susceptible to even more totalitarian regimes.

      1. Destroying a makeshift ambulance does not make oil cheaper.

        Yes it does, by decreasing the demand for gasoline.

      2. That is why it is particularly amazing to see the apologist here and elsewhere argue that we are doing this war to decrease terrorism or spread some wholesome democracy and we are doing these people a favor!

        Are you sure you don’t have two browser windows open at the same time, and you’re confusing this with some other blog? How many folks here are making that argument? Seriously–it doesn’t sound like (most of) us, and I didn’t notice much of it above.

  28. All these comments and nobody hit the Apocalypse Now line about accusing people of murder is like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500?

    So, in Iraq, we are “spreading democracy” by shooting anything that moves that looks like it has a weapon. Here at home, we are spreading Socialism by giving people a bunch of shit that they should be out working for. Perhaps, we need to spread Socialism in Iraq instead of Democracy. I sure as shit hope that our government doesn’t decide to spread some democracy around here.

  29. Honest question about which I’m still debating with myself:
    Given an all-volunteer army, how much of the blame for engaging in unjust warfare falls upon the soldiers?

    1. Daffy: “Aha! Preposition trouble.”
      Sorry about that.

    2. Hard question.

      Once you have signed away your soul, you go where they tell you. If you signed on the dotted line, knowing you were going to Iraq, I would have a different answer than if you didn’t know.

      1. Artifex, I agree that culpability — if there is culpability — is probably different in those two circumstances.

      2. why is it ok for the military to engage in stop loss? that ain’t a normal contract. The chickenhawk self-proclaimed “defenders of the troops” here always seem to forget about that.

        1. that ain’t a normal contract.
          True, that.

          1. Stop-loss is referred to in the ‘normal’ contract. What are you talking about?

            1. no matter how Wal Mart writes a contract with an employee they can’t put people in prison for deciding that they want to quit. A private employer especially can’t extend a contract without asking some guy if he wants to extend it and then put the guy in jail when he says “no please don’t extend contract, I won’t work here anymore”.

              1. It’s not actually an extension of the contract, Gabe.

                1. In every case I know of, stop-loss involves extension into or recall from Individual Ready Reserve time.

                  1. Can they put you in jail for quitting?

                    sorry I fucked up the lawyer terms, you get the point yet?

                    god damn doublespeaking lawyer types.

                    1. Yeah, they can put you in jail for attempting to ‘quit’. But then, the terminology is different. I’ve never seen someone desert or go AWOL from a Wal-Mart.

                  2. Yes. Again, being in the military, stop loss is in the contract, and so is getting recalled from IRR(know from personal experience. But on the question of how much of this falls on the soldiers? Thats a good question that I have struggled with recently.

        2. Shit. Why do I have to agree with you here? I don’t want to agree with you…

          But stop-loss is bullshit.

  30. I’m a hell of lot more concerned that we’re in a foreign country involved in a protracted insurgency than I am about reporters in a war zone getting killed.

    War zones are…wait for it…dangerous. This is (just one) reason to avoid war at all costs.

    1. I’m a lot less worried about reporters in a war zone getting killed than about the civilians, who probably didn’t have a choice in being there.

      1. Did you see my last sentence?

    2. Exactly, the smart Iraqi’s are living in Syria & other countries right now. Not that I don’t sympathize with the Iraqi’s that are still in Iraq. But any sensible person would have gotten out of there the first chance they got.

      1. Some people were pretty poor or young…like that girl in the van. Sure that girl lived…want me to show some video of some dead kids?

        “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.”
        — George Orwell

  31. It’s their fault for bringing their children into a battle.

    Oh, certainly I can see your point of view, but I’m just the warden here. The guy upstairs is the one you should talking to, but unfortunately for you he and I have fundamental disagreements on these sort of actions. Now if you will just follow me through these gates, I’ll show you to your new quarters.

  32. I saw this whole insane stuff … and while there might be a sane reason to for the first round of shooting, what US troops did after was wrong :

    1- Shooting on the alleged terrorist when they were already wounded was PURE BARBARISM … believe me, when you are shoot by an AK-47 round, you can get lost for at least 3 days .. those guys were hit by something bigger and were unlikely to do any arm

    2- Shooting at the VAN who was picking the wounded was INSANE, those guys were just trying to get the dude to a hospital … what would you feel about having US ambulance being blow up while trying to get some boys to the medical center ?

    Battle BS ! there was no battle and the US convoy was in no danger ! what kind of freaking ambuscade is that when you have the enemy under control ?

    one shot was enough to deter and protect the troops … and yes they wounded 2 children … because they were fighting ”terrorists” ? BS !

    If the US troops were not in Iraq, they wouldn’t be victim of suicide bombing, and being there doesn’t prevent them

    Heck IRAN promote and finance terrorism and they go by unharmed ! The palestinians, who ARE terrorist and killed thousands of Israeli receive BILLIONS !

    Fighting terrorism BS

    1. I agree with your points one and two.

    2. Does not work. Insurgents must be killed before they attack our soldiers or blow up dozens of civilians. That means killing them and their rescuers.

      1. And anyone who might look like them. And anyone in my camera because, hey…I haven’t shot anyone all day.

        To quote Palance: pick up the gun.

  33. The biggest problem with this, I think for most paart, is seperating this event from its larger context.

    It seems that in a lot of cases, we who opposed and continue to oppose this war will naturally see this event as “murder,” a sort of confirmation bias. While those who supported or continue to support this war will excuse it from the start as “fog of war.” Its really a sad thing because the war itself isnt what I care to discuss, Ive made my arguments against the hubris for seven years and it hasnt accomplished much in terms of policy advancement, and truth be told, I’m a lot more worried about our fiscal position (although the war spending is in part related). But the sad thing is that many of those who oppose the war may see this as murder when its not because they see the war itself as murderously unnecessary (which it is, IMO). Meanwhile, many who support the war may see this as vanilla and entirely understandable(even if it werent) because they see the overall goal of the war as noble.

    1. And then there are those who will see it as, kill all those fucking sand ni**ers and let Allah sort it out. Present company excluded, of course.

      1. Go back and try again.

        1. Yeah, don’t be so sure. I was on a jobsite and the carpenter had one of those right wing Christian AM stations on. I couldn’t believe the shit I was hearing. There are Christians who want a holy war just as much as the jihadists. Totally sick fucking shit.

  34. Shooting wounded who are no longer a threat is a war crime. Shooting unarmed civilians who are attempting to aid wounded and are no threat is a war crime.

    1. I thought they were unlawful combatants.

      1. …That they were shooting.

      2. That is what I said about the French Resistance and the Soviet Partisans.

    2. Shooting wounded who are no longer a threat is a war crime.

      True. Of course, from a helicopter its kind of hard to tell.

      Shooting unarmed civilians who are attempting to aid wounded and are no threat is a war crime.

      True. Of course, shooting fellow insurgents who are arriving on the scene of a battle isn’t. Which is what (plausibly) was the thought process here.

    3. Did you watch the video?

      When the wounded man was laying on the ground, the gunner kept waiting for him to pick up his weapon, knowing the ROE didnt allow him to shoot an unarmed and wounded combatant (the gunner’s commentary shows he believes the group he fired upon to be combatants). Now, I’ll grant you that he wanted the wounded man to pick up a weapon so he’d have cause to shoot, and that does show he is a bit trigger happy, but the fact remains that he followed ROE by waiting for the wounded man to grab a weapon.

      As for the unarmed civilians attempting to aid the wounded, this is all the benefit of hindsight. After establishing that this guy believes the men he shot to be combatants, it stands to reason that he would believe the unmarked van picking said combatant up to be a combatant van as well. We can watch the video and say “oh the humanity” because we have the benefit of knowing who is in the van, a benefit that the gunner didnt (even if he lacked the intellectual curiosity to fully examine it)

      1. When in that video does it show any wounded pickling up weapons. It doesn’t. The wounded reporter who runs to the center of the square lays down and stays down and then is repeatedly shot. It stands to reason a civilian van with civilians in it picking up wounded is a “combatant van”, whatever the hell that is. Does anyone in the van have a visible weapon or engage or troops? No?

        1. people here really think that wounded guy by the van was picking up a weapon before he got shot the 2nd, 3rd time?

          wow…you have amazing abilities for self delusion.


        1. because you don’t want them to live and fight another day

    4. war crime is the dumbest phrase ever turned.

      1. Believe it or not wars actually do have rules and you can be criminally charged for violating those rules.

  35. The American military is like chemotherapy; it causes a lot of side effect on the way to curing the disease. But it is a cure, and not the disease.

    If this engagement was avoidable without endangering the lives of the soldiers then it was terrible and some people need disciplined, but clearly no ROE or anything else will not prevent this, only limit it. The current American military has the balance of effectiveness versus collateral damage developed to a level never before possible. It is the best chemotherapy ever developed despite the side effects that are often terrible for the patient. Iraq is much better off for getting the treatment. It lives free for the first time in history. That does not make these innocent people any less dead, but there is more to the story than just what happened on this day as seen through this video.

    1. And who are you to make that decision or determination? The war in Iraq has caused a fundamental shift in the balance of power in the entire Middle East. Consequences of this action is yet to be seen.

    2. “The American military is like chemotherapy; it causes a lot of side effect on the way to curing the disease. But it is a cure, and not the disease.”

      Unless you don’t have cancer, in which case it is just extremely expensive poison. In our unfortunate case, the the chemo salesmen have been allowed to make the diagnosis.

  36. The occupation of Iraq is one gigantic act of mass murder.

      1. Well, when you kill someone unjustifiably, that’s murder. Just because a group of people get together and call something “war” and say that the ordinary rules no longer apply doesn’t mean that they fooled justice.

        Now, you may argue that the moral responsibility lies primarily with those who used lies to make the case for war, rather than soldiers who, despite results, are acting in good faith. But that doesn’t change the question of whether murder was committed, only the question of whodunit.

        1. Every democratic, free(ish) nation like America has the inherent right to invade/occupy/annex any dictatorship, as dictatorships have no rights. So you lose.

        2. oh yeah? what lies were those? and remember, a lie means saying something false that you know to be false, not we did not find as many chemical weapons as we honestly believed were there

    1. The occupation of Iraq is one gigantic act of mass murder.

      It’s hyperbolic comments like this that cause people to not pay attention to you, T.

      1. How is it hyperbolic? Do the adjectives “gigantic” or “mass” not apply to numbers in the hundreds of thousands? Which is how many innocent people we’ve killed in a war of aggression on a country that had done no harm to us.

        1. Do you know what the word “murder” means, Tony? Seriously, look up the definition.

          1. Ever heard of the word “pedant”?

            1. It’s not pedantry in this case, Tony. You should use words wisely in these sorts of situations.

              1. I don’t make a moral distinction between murder and collateral damage in an imperialistic occupation. I did choose my words carefully.

                1. Yeah, but words mean things, Tony. Good for you on your moral code, though.

                  1. I don’t make a moral distinction between murder and snark.

        2. I usually hate agreeing with you Tony, but…

  37. I’m heartened to see that most commentators have taken the eminently sensible tack that this was a tragic accident that is to be expected in war.
    The ROEs are far too restrictive as is with US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan often letting The Enemy get away instead of killing them due to a risk of civilian casualties. We must never forget our moral supremacy over and that the moral burden of civilian deaths falls with the Islamist aggressors in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    1. I wouldn’t say that the ROEs are too restrictive as is. Really, our troops have significantly fewer casualties than any conflicts predating the end of the cold war so we can afford to have an ask questions first, shoot later mentality and, in all reality, it actually improves the prospects of accomplishing the warm and fuzzy broad nation building objectives (which IMO are BS objectives to start) by limiting civilian casualties to whatever extent possible in order to gain support among the populations you are trying to pacify and “liberate.”

      As for letting enemies get away instead of killing them, well, I find myself rather fond of the notion of it being better to “let thousand guilty men go free rather than kill one innocent.” (a little Kantian categorical imperative streak in me).

      1. We cannot afford to let the enemy live if we want to actually win. We do NOT need the civilian population to love us. Better to fear use probably. Nation building is a bust but regime destruction is effective if pursued ruthlessly. We killed lots of civilians in Germany and Japan but it was okay because it helped us win and we were morally superior.

    2. Just like those pesky French were aggressors against the glorious Reich. It was their own fault for living in a war zone.

  38. A quick question. I notice lots of reference to “war crime”. Is there a specific treaty or agreement that the US has entered into and where would I find that.

    I was under the impression that the Geneva Convention was more of a tit-for-tat type of thing where we essentially said don’t be unusually nasty towards our troops and we will give you the same respect.

    Is there an additional document ?

    1. The Geneva Conventions are law in the US just like any other treaty.

      1. Yes, unfortunately much of the Geneva Conventions are literally inapplicable when fighting irregulars.

        1. You mean guerrilla fighters, i.e., the people whose country we occupied and whose families we slaughtered?

          It’s very convenient for the GCs to be quaint and inapplicable simply because the U.S. happens to be the aggressor.

          1. Not because of convenience, Tony. They’re literally inapplicable. Have you read them?

            1. Actually, the 4th Convention, made after WWII really muddies things and gives protections to insurgents who openly bear arms and abide by the rules of war. Moreover, the 4th Convention makes it clear that military medical staff and chaplains have the same protections as civilians.

        2. Glad you agree with me. To the camps with those partisans!

      2. Some of the Geneva Conventions have been ratified by the US. Some haven’t, and are thus not “binding” on the US.

        The ones we have ratified deal with war between nation-states, and don’t really have much to say, really, about the kind of insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan. Technically, under those Conventions, the insurgents are war criminals because they are engaged in acts of war in violation of the Conventions (out of uniform, etc., etc.).

        My recollection is that the unratified Convention deals with civil unrest and arguably applies to insurgencies.

        1. My understanding is that a person, in an occupied country, who takes up arms against the occupier must either be considered an enemy combatant, under the Third Convention, or a criminal, under the Fourth Convention. However, that particular ruling was made in an international court as an interpretation of the Conventions and is not specifically mentioned in the Conventions themselves.

      3. but treaties are not unilateral things are they ?

        I would think this is between the combatants, and if one side refuses to abide by the treaty, is the other side still bound ?

        Actually an honest question. I don’t know

        1. Yes. Some aspects of the Geneva Conventions even apply to countries that aren’t signatories.

        2. An honest answer:

          Its like any other contract. If I agree to pay you $10,000 for a specific and defined car, but you don’t produce said car, am I still obliged to pay you $10,000?

        3. I would think this is between the combatants, and if one side refuses to abide by the treaty, is the other side still bound ?

          I don’t think so. A treaty is an agreement. How can you have an agreement between 2 parties if one does not agree to the conditions of the agreement?

          On the other hand, I do believe the US military treats its adversaries as if they were signatories to the GC.

        4. Actually, I think the Geneva Convention, one of them, says that that the agreeing parties will apply the conventions to all armed conflicts, regardless of who they are fighting.

          1. So if I am the Iraqi insurgents and I inscribe red crosses on all of my vehicles and buildings, they are to left strictly alone ?

            1. Not if you use them for perfidy.

            2. Well, apparently, they didn’t have enough red paint to put a cross on that mini van, so I don’t think you have to worry.

              1. “”Well, apparently, they didn’t have enough red paint to put a cross on that mini van””

                Heck, if they did that the insurgence might attack them.

                1. Good point, having a cross on something in Baghdad isn’t to bright. A Red Crescent might be a better idea.

      4. i know this out of the realm of understanding for someone with your partisan leaning, but…there is no such thing as international law. without an enforcement body it is not law. without coercion, you got firm suggestions and nothing more.

        1. That’s true. That’s why I think the world would be a better place with an entity that was actually capable of making the U.S. accountable for its many war crimes. Better than “we have the biggest stick, fuck you.”

          1. So that said other entity can also say “We have the biggest stick, fuck you” I at least prefer the one that is in theory accountable to us through elections.

            1. Didn’t really think that one through, did you, Tony?

              1. Does he ever?

          2. I thought US citizens were responsible for holding their government officials responsible for their actions.

            1. Cindy Sheehan tried the citizen’s arrest thing. Hasn’t worked.

          3. Now I remember why I never agree with Tony. Your hatred and anger know no bounds.

        2. A gentleman’s agreement?

  39. Who let Tony out of the bubble?

    1. Like a hamster, Tony had been running around bumping into things in his bubble most of the day and pellets of shit were sticking to his fur.

      1. Also:

        The Broken Bubble of Thisbe Holt by Philip K. Dick

        The titular Miss Holt is actually a fairly minor character in the book. She is a large-breasted stripper who performs at optometrists conventions. Her act consists of getting naked and climbing into a large clear plastic ball (The “Broken Bubble” of the title, resembling a hamster ball) which the optometrists then roll around the hotel room. Eventually, the ball gets broken when it’s thrown off the hotel roof by the optometrists.

        1. I only wish I’d written it first.

      2. SugarFree, that was hilarious πŸ™‚

  40. I remember reading the book ‘Lone Survivor’ and thinking to myself, what the hell are the soldiers supposed to do? Can you take a chance on someone who looks harmless enough but might kill you the instant your guard is down? Do you hesitate (as they did in the book Lone Survivor – which cost the lives of 20 special ops soldiers) because of concerns about how the media might portray you back home? These soldiers are put in a horrible position, given some of the most powerful weapons in the world, watch thier friends die and then are expected to be able to discern the difference between friendly and hostile with all of this weighing on thier mind.

    I think videos like this are good because it helps to bring the reality of war home – particularly THIS war. People need to see how awful, brutal, unjust and disgusting war is and see one of the many reasons we should not be over there. We just cannot expect different outcomes than this from 18-19-20 year old kids hopped up on adrenaline believing it is kill or be killed and expect that to spread democracy and reduce the threat of terrorism.

    Whether this is murder, or a simple casualty of war by those specific soldiers involved is for people with much more knowledge and expertise than me to decide… however, I would be in favor of holding accountable our leaders at the highest levels for thier continued descion to put our brave soldiers in these positions.

    1. Excellently stated.

    2. I think that’s part of the problem with everyone screaming for the heads of the soldiers — there are a whole lot of teenagers over there. Militaries like to get them young, before they develop all of their critical thinking skills for precisely the reason that they’re moldable and hopped out on adrenaline.

      This is a tragedy, but if you want a real villain to pin it on… it’s next to impossible to find one, unless you go all the way back up to the cause of the war in the first place. And that was pretty much overzealous US politicians, right down to Dubya.

      1. Thank you, Steff.

  41. How come Obama hasn’t put a stop to this?

    1. Because Obama doesn’t give a shit, he has lots of shrimp at his house and a man will bring him more at anytime.

      As far as Obama is concerned wikileaks is a terrorist organization as “Sage” and the other apologist tell us above.

      1. Actually I was being sarcastic. Wikileaks is OK in my book, though they should have just released the video without the screeching.

  42. “We just cannot expect different outcomes than this from 18-19-20 year old kids hopped up on adrenaline believing it is kill or be killed and expect that to spread democracy and reduce the threat of terrorism.

    …however, I would be in favor of holding accountable our leaders at the highest levels for thier continued descion to put our brave soldiers in these positions.”

    While I agree with AJ,
    it seems that some here would say that AJ is a conspiracy theorist …how could our dumb leaders have known this would happen?…it is all a accident…they are trying their best to give out more freedoms.

    1. Thanks – I agree with your three points above.

      On my ‘conspiracy theory’ – Given that we have been in Iraq for 7 years and Afghanistan for almost 9 years, I think they have had plenty of time to get a clue what is going on over there. If a hundred thousand+ soldiers, guns, tanks, Apaches, drones and the full weight of the most powerful military in the history of the world have not been enough to bring a peaceful democracy and eliminate terrorists after this much time, then perhaps a foreign military occupation is not the answer?

      1. but the profits are great for certain small groups…certain clusters of friends have seen their businesses saved from doom…it seems to me the people who rule over us are actually pretty damn smart about what they most care about…POWER.

        if you are waiting for these people to “figure it out” then you are naive..they have figured it out and are just scared that enough of us might “figure it out”.

        Sure they could give two shits if the tax code is convenient for us…and some call that incompetence…I don’t.

  43. Yes clap and shire for the US army ! Since invading Iraq have cripple terrorist, led to the capture of Bin Ladden and make oil 2 cent the barrel !

    From fantasy land back to reality :

    – Iraq has nothing to do with 9/11, you can brag all day long about how this was ”lawful under US ROE, it doesn’t stop of being a senseless death of likely innocent people

    – The US fund Hamas/OLP in a glorious joint partenership with Iran ! and even prevent Israel of fighting terrorist !

    – no go fill you cars tank with the blood of 11 iraq killed and 2 children killed, in the most senseless engagement of the F**ing senseless war

    1. Have you read reason before?

      1. I can’t get the death tree version since It is not delivered where I live πŸ˜‰

        But I had a look at the online articles

      2. This is a hotbed of NeoCon Republicans, obviously. Why should they have to check their assumptions? Just fire blindly into the comments sections. And repeat repeat repeat the same points over and over and over again.

      3. ya I liked the article about what the different columnist thought about the Iraq war when the big media push was on originally. The voting history was informative as well.

        1. I trust the guys who were anti-war in 2001 and accurately describing the lies that would be used to get us into war. Many here are good people too but some were pushing propaganda in 2002 and still voting for George Bush in 2004.

          1. what “lies” were those?

      4. I’m beginning to think that most of the people posting crap like this… no. Man, I’ve been reading Reason for a very long time before I even ventured to comment. Can’t expect people to do that sensible thing, though.

  44. The average daily Iraqi oil production has been much less over the last 9 years than it was in the previous two years. Ignorance does not change this. The war was not to give us oil.

    The US imports more oil from fucking Norway than it does Iraq. Do you not know all the ties between Saudi Arabia and the US government?

    Saudi Arabia is the only country in OPEC that actually holds back any meanignful oil production and the House of Saud could be taken down in days if our foreign policy gurus wanted it so. They don’t.

    1. So all this senseless killing is for what ? fighting terrorist ?

      Are those who planned the war so dumb that they mistaken Iraq for Iran ?

      Are them so dumb that they couldn’t ask to the Israeli who fund Hamas, Hezbolla and OLP ?

      Are they so dumb that they didn’t knew that Saddam had not WMD ?

      Are they so dumb that they couldn’t figure out that Iran was the one having nuclear reactor and making threat to raze Israel ?

      Are they so dumb that they can’t stop financing the very palestinian who blow up Israeli civilian ?

      Give me a REASON FOR THIS WAR !

      1. I didn’t support/start the war. The people who did start the war lied about it continously. That much we know. We are left to figure out why it is escalating today still…seems to me that General Eisenhower had it figured out. Military Industrial Complex and all, but that guy was a tinfoil hatter, right?…couldn’t be.

        1. what lies? how do you know it? just because some presumptions turned out to be partially incorrect does not mean they were not honestly believed at the time

          “lie” means you knew it was false when you said it

      2. That’s what’s so fucked up about it. It’s hard to even point to a bad reason for this war.

        It’s always helpful to ask cui bono? Halliburton’s done pretty well. I can’t think of too many others.

      3. how about this: to start the process of transforming the nations of the middle east from conflict ridden hellholes (which can cause problems for us, such as 9/11) into stable democracies

        like we did with japan and germany, for example

        possible? perhaps

        feasible? perhaps not, due to our own internal political divisions

    2. Just because we didn’t get oil doesn’t mean it wasn’t part of the plan. Lots of things didn’t go according to plan.

  45. If “war is hell” and “mistakes happen” – how come none of the merc trash that was wandering around Iraq carrying weapons 24/7 was ever “accidentally” shot by our forces?

    It seems to me that the military was pretty damn good at avoiding ever “accidentally” machine-gunning any Blackwater scum, even though they weren’t members of the armed forces.

    It seems pretty apparent that if you were merc scum and were carrying a weapon in someone else’s country, you could be pretty sure that a passing US helicopter wouldn’t machine-gun you. You were only at risk if you were an Iraqi carrying a weapon IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY.

    Why didn’t any of the Blackwater vehicles careening around Iraq full of armed men was never shot up? Somehow we managed to not shoot any of their vehicles, and only managed to shoot vans full of Iraqi kids. Now why is that?

    One answer is that, as the voices on this tape make pretty clear, the ROE had decided in advance that the lives of Iraqis had no value.

    1. Blue-on-blue happens. The thing is that friendly forces have the benefit of beacons, markers and clearances that these journalists obviously didn’t.

      1. I thought I remember seeing journalists in the occupied territories of Israel wearing blue vests with something written in big yellow letters on the back. It was an HBO documentary, and they ended up being shot by Israeli forces, anyway.

          1. Yeah, I forget the name of it. At the end, the guy ran up to an Israeli tank with his hands up in the air screaming he was an American journalist, or something, and they shot him dead, in cold blood.

        1. We can talk about properly identifying yourself on the battlefield, but you can fake proper identification. Who would have better knowledge of that than a country who ripped off some dual citizens’ passport for what they thought would be a covert op.

        2. because, of course, there is no way the enemy could get their hands on blue vests

      2. Very, very true Art-P.O.G.

    2. What exactly are you claiming here? That friendly fire does not happen when an Iraqi isn’t involved? Or is it just that Blackwater agents have a magic shield around them?

      I couldn’t tell you why a Blackwater merc hasn’t been a victim of friendly fire (if this is indeed true, I do not know), but I could make some guesses. Perhaps it’s the way they operate in Iraq. From what I understand they primarily provide security detail for diplomats and other officials, rather than the roaming patrols our soldiers perform, but I could be wrong on this. Or it could simply be that the number of mercs in the country is low enough that there’s just a low chance of it happening. Friendly fire is horrible when it happens, but still fairly rare. Maybe it’s just that the odds have been in their favor. Maybe it’s a combination.

      Or maybe the military simply hates brown people. I dunno.

      1. Pat Tillman got shot…there is lot of friendly fire. ok maybe that is a bad example since the governemnt lied about that one too.

        1. Come on, military people are government employees, and I keep hearing on this board how incompetent those government employees are πŸ˜‰

        2. Friendly fire happens all the time in war. There isn’t a war in history where it hasn’t happened. It is unavoidable. The fact that it happens so rarely now, as opposed to some of the appalling events that happened in WWII, Korea and Vietnam, is a tribute to our forces.

      2. I’m sure it also doesn’t hurt that a lot of the mercs were white. Or black.

        “Hey, that guy has a gun! Oh wait he’s white don’t shoot.”

        “Hey, that other guy has a gun! He’s local, fucking waste that wog’s ass!”

      3. I wouldn’t say that they hate brown people, but I would definitely assert that if an obviously white and foreign terrorist [Jihad Jane, maybe] was running around Iraq waving an AK-47 in the air on the day this video was shot, the military would have taken a lot more care before blowing her away than they took for these people.

        Because the lives of the local population had little or no value to the occupying forces other than as potential opponents or as counters in a video game.

        The voices on the tape make that clear. This was no more significant an event for these guys than shooting a dog in the street. If it had been a white woman like Jihad Jane, it would have been a bigger deal even if she was pointing a Stinger at them.

        1. Fluffy,

          No shit people get pretty jaded in a combat zone. Of course it doesn’t bother them to shoot people. If it did, they would go insane. It is a war you fucking moron.

          It has nothing to do with color. Anyone who runs around with a weapon meaning them harm is going to have a bad day. Your whole “they hate brown people and wouldn’t shoot blackwater” routine is a low point even for you. And that is saying something.

          1. So you’re saying that if, in the middle of this firefight, three white women had walked into the camera shot, they would have said, “Look, more terrorists!” and shot them?

            Yes or no.

            1. If those women were carrying weapons and were not wearing any sort of identifying uniforms, they would be in trouble. Further, the enemy is generally arab. Do you think they should not take that fact into account when fighting? If the enemy were blue smurfs out of avitar, I would say being a blue smurf on the battlefield would be pretty dangerous.

              1. Our ALLIES were also Arab.

                And the CIVILIAN POPULATION we claimed we were trying to protect was also Arab.

                We’re not talking about Saipan, where if someone with a Japanese face ran up to you, it was basically time to shoot.

                But that’s fine. You basically have now changed your point from “Race had nothing to do with it!” to “Race had something to do with it, but that only makes sense!” and I’m happy to let that be the resolution here.

                1. It is a simple concept fuffy. Insurengents dress and hide among the local population. That makes it hard to tell who is a fighter and who is not. That is why insurgency is a war crime. It puts civilians in grave danger by making it impossible to tell who is a lawful target.

                  It is funny that you blame the US for these deaths instead of the insurgents for hiding among the civilian population and essentially making the entire civilian population into human shields.

                  1. Of course I blame the US for these deaths.

                    George Bush lied about our long term intentions in Iraq on the day the war started.

                    That made the insurgency right and the US wrong.

                    If Iraq was occupying the US under similar circumstances, I would hope I wouldn’t be too big a pussy to blow up their soldiers. And I would be right and they would be wrong.

                    1. Yeah, the insurgency that fights against freedom and for Islamist supremacy/religious slaughter. On the bright side, now I know you’re a moral retard.

            2. I would also point to the incidents of friendly fire as further evidence against your theory. If being a white guy was such a safe way to stroll around the battlefield, friendly fire incidents would never happen. The fact that white people wearing the same uniform can still get shot tells you that they are not too concerned about the color of their target if they think it is a threat.

            3. FLuff,

              Can you tell from that video what ethnicity those people are? The color of their eyes, etc? I can’t.

    3. That is interesting point Fluffy. And the answer is that the private security people work directly with the military and make damn sure that the military knows where they are. They also dress in ways that make it obvious that they are not insurgents. If private security ran around dressed like locals, with local weapons and armed local escorts and didn’t bother to work with the military, they would be getting fragged left and right.

      1. Wait a second – “dressed like locals”?

        But Donald Rumsfeld told us over and over that the Iraqi insurgency wasn’t made up of locals, but was made up of foreign fighters.

        And since there are Muslims of every race, if the insurgency was made up of foreign fighters as Rumsfeld said – statements you defended over and over – then “looking like locals” shouldn’t have been a factor.

        Unless you’re now saying that the insurgency WAS made up of locals, and that’s why the military understandably would occasionally kill a bunch of locals by mistake, and that all those Rumsfeld statements were just lies.

        Is that what you’re saying?

        1. Fluffy,

          You are so annoyingly ignorant. Of course there are foreign fighters. And they don’t wear uniforms and mix in among the locals. That is what makes them insurgents and not conventional forces.

          Seriously, do you turn off your brain when the subject of Iraq comes up? I mean that is a sorry effort. That is a Tony level effort.

          1. If the insurgents were foreign fighters, that would mean they were of many different races, since there are Muslims of every race.

            That would mean that the “it’s an insurgency, they all look like the native population” line of argument wouldn’t have been accurate.

            Sure, most Muslims are at least similar to Iraqis in appearance – but there is still a conflict between the casual assertion that the insurgents were all foreign fighters and the casual assertion [in another context] that the insurgents were all indistinguishable from the natives.

            1. Fluffy, are you totally ignorant of what went on in Iraq or just foam-flecked deranged. The foreign fighters were Saudis and Syrians mostly. They are not different races. They dress to blend in. They speak Arabic, mostly. They intend to blend in.

              1. Wayne,

                You just don’t get it.

                If I want to, I can add all sorts of content and assumptions to statements made by cunts like Rumsfeld about the war on terror, but I’m just not going to do so. I’m going to interpret their statements in the worst possible light. ALWAYS.

                If we’re really fighting a war against “Islamofascism”, and if “Islamofascist foreign fighters” were the enemy in Iraq, then they should have been of all races, as Muslims are of all races.

                I’m mocking the statements by treating them EXACTLY LITERALLY.

                1. Maybe Rumsfeld was wrong. But we were fighting most ARAB Muslims, so they do all look and dress alike. Which is part of the problem. If you are non-Iraqi foreign fighter, it only makes sense to dress like the population, as to not make yourself a target.

                2. Fluffy is become Tony. That’s the only way to explain his being so dumb as to twist an argument about ROE into a completely different point about Rumsfield.

  46. I would be interested to know what discussion at Reson went on about when to post a story on this. Doherty did a good job, just wander who he had to run it by or how that actually works.

    1. A good question. Since it’s just the Hit & Run blog I would think they have a lot of freedom in what they post, but they are still a business/non-profit org so it would make sense that they have some standards.

      Perhaps you should try e-mailing Welch or Gillespie to find out.

  47. Socrates?


    1. Damn threaded comments putting this in the wrong place.

  48. “Obama… has lots of shrimp at his house and a man will bring him more at anytime.”
    This, I love. It explains SO much.

    1. Damn joke name! (I happen to know the Kochtopus has an allergy to shellfish.)

      1. Waiting for some one to jump on that.

        Come on that I didn’t say “scrimp” so that is not racist…just ridiculing shallow people satisified with material success but unconcerned with broader problems(could be any skin color)….some of my best friends are black.

  49. Thus, his antipathy to the author of “The Virtue of Shellfishness.”

    Ba-da boom!
    (Sorry. Couldn’t help myself.)

  50. Ok. I’m gonna slow down and work out the particulars on the Obama/Virtue of Shellfishness joke.

    I’ll get back to you.

    1. enlightened selfishness…That leaves plenty of room for breeders like me who care about the longer term ramifications of tradeoffs between shrimp and military-industrial-bankster complex fellatio.

  51. If you listen closely, before they open fire you hear one pilot identify Evil Burt on the ground.

    1. Burt Lancaster? He’s still alive?

      1. Ok, Evil Bert.

  52. Sorry I missed out on this thread. The Reuters reporters deserve the blame for their own fates. You can’t run around a battlefield with armed local guards and no indication you are a journalist and expect the military to magically know that you are journalists. They pretty much had a death wish.

    The only action on the tape that is even remotely questionable is shooting the wounded. You are not supposed to shoot someone once they are out of the fight. But, at the same time, we do not expect people to have perfect knowledge of who is and who is not out of the fight. In the stress of combat, you can’t expect people to shoot once and then hope the guy is really dead. They are going to shoot until the guy stops moving. That is just how it works. And how it always has worked.

  53. The lot of you have Asperger’s Syndrome.

    No one has touched on the glee with which these idiots fired 30mm rounds (anti-tank ammo) at a group of loiterers like it was fucking Duck Hunt.

    As the journalist was crawling in his own blood, the Pig in the copter was ROOTING for him to pick up a “weapon”. If this was a “tragic mistake”, homeboy didn’t want to be right:

    “Oh, yeah, look at all those dead bastards.” “Nice.”

    Yeah, war’s totally HELL for these mouthbreathers, what with the “split-second desicions” and “videos that don’t tell the whole story”. These warriors probably needed some serious 20% SUPPORT THE TROOPS discounts on beer and carwashes after “laying their lives on the line ” in that action.

    And I love how they so dryly confer their blame for using anti-tank rounds on children in a makeshift ambulance to the dead terrojournalists.

    Next time they see one of those kids, one of them might actually be holding an RPG.

    1. There is nothing illegal about using an anti-tank weapon on a soft target. If you were anything but a mouth breathing moron, you might know something about the international law of armed conflict. As it is, you just pollute the intertubes with your ignorance.

      1. I don’t believe he said there was anything about illegal about using an anti-tank weapon on a soft target…nor on a strawman.

        But noting the use of anti-tank ammo does point out the level of violence that was being dished out in such an apparently reckless manner. They also appeared to be firing rounds into many of the buildings near the square. Who knows if anyone was inside? And all of this based on the fact that there was a small group of people hanging out on the street that appeared to be armed (but didn’t appear to be agressive or hiding from the helicopter like they were insurgents).

        1. The only gun the Apache has is a 30MM cannon, so that is what they used. The only other weapons choice would have been a missile of some sort.

          1. Thanks, I’m aware of that. But that should play into the decision about whether or not to “engage targets” in an urban area. In a situation of extreme urgency – like the middle of a firefight – it might be justified to fire a 30MM cannon into a group of combatants in an urban area. But this is not that situation.

            Also, if you look below, they later to decide to fire several Hellfire missiles into a building that they’ve seen a couple armed men walk into. They show no regard for civilians nearby and the first missile hits while a passerby is walking past on the sidewalk. He does not appear to survive the blast.

    2. I tend to agree with this post. I’m not sure if the killings were actually “murders” as the video is titled, but they do appear to be pretty reckless with respect to human life, so I guess the argument could be made.

      I don’t buy the “war zone” defense – being in a war zone doesn’t give you a free pass to shoot at civilians who aren’t shooting at you.

      I watched the video and didn’t see much at all to justify the initial shooting of what appeared to just be a crowd of people gathered around. Yes, some of them may have been carrying guns (or cameras, or other large objects), but it’s not unusual for civilians to be carrying guns in Baghdad. It’s hard to make out what’s going on at that distance and resolution, but it did look like one of them pointed a camera at the helicopter around the corner. That would have been the only remotely threatening thing I saw them do, but they were already selected as targets well before that. I’d like to know how/why they were selected as targets in the first place (what happened before the video started).

      I really see no justification for shooting the wounded and the would-be good samaritans in the van who came to rescue the wounded guy. The good samaritans certainly posed no threat, didn’t do anything militant-looking, and in fact acted exactly like amateur volunteer medics. It’s not clear to me why it was not ok to shoot the wounded guy while he crawled along the ground, but it was suddenly ok to shoot him once he was being aided by the good samaritans.

      I don’t know enough about the laws of war to know if it was technically a war crime to shoot the wounded guy and the good samaritans, but if that’s not a war crime, then the laws of war need to be changed.

      Same with the ROE. The military’s claim that they followed the ROE is essentially meaningless. There’s not much point to the ROE if they’re so loose as to allow these guys to play cowboys & indians from the sky on anyone in Baghdad who might be carrying a gun.

      1. About the guns, I’m also wondering if this occurred during the time we were paying the Awakening councils. Were these guys with guns on our side?

        1. My best guess is they were the security detail for the reporters. They didn’t seem alarmed by the US army helicopters circling nearby, didn’t try to hide, and made no attempt to hide their weapons/cameras/large objects.

      2. Go back and listen to the radio chatter again. This video begins following a firefight on the ground. The men on the groun shown at the beginning of the video are around a corner hidden from the view of American soldiers who were involved in the fight. One of the journalists points his telephoto lens, which the chopper pilot mistakes for an RPG, from around the corner at American soldiers on the ground.

        The journalists were trying to get photos of an ongoing military action; they were hiding around the corner in a perfectly reasonable attempt to avoid getting shot by those soldiers. From the chopper crew’s perspective these guys were planning an ambush of American soldiers using a widely available, favorite weapon of insurgents.

        Since it was the job of the chopper crew to provide air support to friendlies in the area, a perfectly reasonable (from a military point of view) tactical military response follows a tragic case of mistaken identity…

  54. “Soft targets”. Right.

    You could’ve just said “brown people”, Colonel.

    1. We have special black and white video targeting cameras that highlight the brown people. Donald Rumsfeld made it a requirement during the design reviews for the Apache during the 1980s.

      1. have a citation for that?

  55. My take on this is it’s a very tough call. This is made especially horrible because we know these people– let’s be clear– these victims weren’t ‘insurgents’ or what the military thought they were. We’re first told these are journalists, we’re told they have cameras, then the video rolls. There can only be one reaction within this context: horror.

    But if you don’t read the text and you take the broader context, what I see are a bunch of men milling about the street, one or two CLEARLY have weapons, and what are identified as the journalists have very large cameras which could easily be mistaken for weapons in a long, black and white zoom shot from the helicopter targetig camera.

    Even after the helicopter engages, you can see the process the military goes through to continue to request permission to engage, even after they’ve already shot people. Is the wounded man carrying a weapon, is he trying to pick his weapon up, etc. etc.

    I think the question is, should they have engaged at all in the first place, even if they had been weapons?

    My foggy understanding of the conditions in Iraq are that each household is allowed to have one weapon- often an AK 47– for defense against insurgents.

    How did the helicopter personnel know that these weren’t non-insurgents in the street with their allowed weapons?

    I haven’t read all of the background on this, but were troops taking small arems fire from this sector, leading to this request for engagement?

    This is certainly a horrible tragedy, but if you take out the things we NOW know about the situation, it’s not the slam dunk some people make it out to be.

  56. Watched the video — looked like a FUBAR situation, not murder. The person pulling the trigger asked for and got authorization to do so, and both ends of that conversation were talking about taking out what they thought were bad guys. It’s not like any of the soldiers said let’s go kill us some civilians.

    Sickening to watch, but bad stuff happens in the fog of war.

    We should never have been in Iraq in the first place, but that doesn’t justify blaming the soldiers in this situation for shooting at what they honestly thought were combatants.

    1. But I think this calls into question the ROE. What was the basis for thinking these guys were badguys in the first place? Surely the ROE don’t justify shooting anyone in Baghdad that might be carrying weapons. There has to be some basis to think they are badguys. It’s not very clearly established in the video.

      And even if you think the initial shooting is somehow justified, the follow-up shooting of the wounded guy and the would-be good samaritans in the van seems to be completely without justification. There was no indication that anyone had any weapons or posed a threat to anyone. In fact, there was no way of knowing if these people in the van were even connected with any of the people in the square, or if they just happened to be driving nearby, heard gunfire, saw a wounded man crawling in the street, and decided to help.

      1. Surely the ROE don’t justify shooting anyone in Baghdad that might be carrying weapons. There has to be some basis to think they are badguys. It’s not very clearly established in the video.

        Agreed, see my post above. My understanding is that all households were allowed a weapon for self defense. Can anyone corroborate that?

        1. This article says “AK-47s are ubiquitous in Iraq as each household is allowed to have one.”


      2. my understanding is that there are 17 minutes of video before this that wikileaks edited out. our answer as to why this group was attacked might be in hat 17 mins, but we don’t know because they haven’t released it.

        1. Your understanding based on what?

          There is a 39 minute unedited video on the wikileaks website, but it starts at the same place.

    2. Video embedded below, in the form of a mini-documentary that surrounds the footage with some explanations and annotation.

      As I say, the men on the helicopter didn’t have the luxury of “explanations and annotation” with little arrows pointing to each man on the street with the words “Journalist” and “Camera”.

      I’ve read a little more deeply into this, my understanding is that U.S. forces were or had been engaged in that area and had called in these helicopters.

      Also, were these freelance reporters and were they possibly mixing with insurgents in the process of getting their story, or is that known?

      1. From the NYT article:

        “Reuters said at the time that the two men had been working on a report about weightlifting when they heard about a military raid in the neighborhood, and decided to drive there to check it out.”

        My best guess is that the armed guys were their bodyguards, not insurgents. Insurgents don’t just stand around milling about with weapons in plain sight when US military helicopters are circling nearby…

        1. That’s a good guess, but there’s speculation that the aircraft was an AC-130, which fires kilometers away from the kill zone.

          The insurgournalists literally didn’t see it coming.

          1. The unedited video has radio footage where troops on the ground refer to helicopters shooting the guys. Also, the camera appears to be circling the scene too fast to be very far away. If it’s kilometers from the kill zone, it is moving very, very fast, probably faster than a C-130 can move.

          2. The range is about one mile; they’re traveling ~120 mph. It’s not a plane.

        2. Too fucking funny. Reuters was paying reporters and photographers to do stories on “weightlifting” in a war zone. Remember all those Reuters stories about “quilting” that came out of Bosnia?

      2. Hey bootlicker-

        I don’t see how being able to identify the enemy is a “luxury”; in a rational world, much less on a libertarian website, one would assume that this should be the troop’s responsibility. That is, one should not be quick to judgments when the consequence is death. Of course, the troops seemed neither nervous leading up to the slaughter, nor particularly worried upon realizing their errors. They only seemed anxious to start shooting something. For your freedom.

        And no one knows what any of these people were doing because U.S. tax feeders shot them and now they’re dead. And even if they were “mixing with insurgents”, it isn’t clear how that’s grounds for a death warrant if “mixing” means calmly meandering around an open area.

        1. I don’t see how being able to identify the enemy is a “luxury”; in a rational world, much less on a libertarian website, one would assume that this should be the troop’s responsibility.

          It is the troops responsibility, and all we have is the context of a short black and white video. This hardly puts us on the street or in the air- in a position where we are or were taking fire– or are in danger of taking fire.

          I know words may be hard for you, but if you read all of my comments I don’t excuse this action, and in fact, I question the root of it: why did the engagement happen in the first place?

          The problem here is the military personnel clearly believed these were ‘bad guys’, described what they saw and were given permission to engage.

          I agree with Dan that we need to look at the rules of engagement, not necessarily hold this event in a vacuum.

          You may now go back to the warm comfort of twitter and facebook.

  57. I keep hearing people say over and over as a defense that, “well, it was far away so it was really hard for them to tell what was happening.” How is that a defense? They are far away because of a decision to do this from such and such a distance. If you want to be more positive about who you are shooting at then, MOVE CLOSER.

    1. Microwave:

      I think the confusion here is that there were forces closer to this engagement who called in the gunships. Troops had been fired on in that sector, called in the gunships and the gunships saw men with weapons. If you watch the video carefully, one of the non-journalist has what is more clearly a weapon. As Dan points out, probably a security detail for the photographers.

      The U.S. investigation into the attack found that the helicopter gunship’s crew mistook the journalists’ cameras for weapons while seeking out insurgents who had been firing at American troops in the area.

  58. I’m really confused. When did reason become a Neo-con publication, because that is clearly what it sounds like given all the apologist comments seen here. Either that, or libertarians have simply become just simply to lazy and too opinionated to be bothered with watching the actual tape with a critical eye and a critical mind. (Of course, that, to my mind, pretty much disqualifies them as libertarians and makes them conservatives of some strip or another.) Anyone who LISTENS to this tape could tell this was murder. The soldiers are lying to their superiors about the numbers of people present, about the numbers of guns present, claiming that they can identify the make and model of the weapons, when in fact they can’t even tell that the guns are actually 35mm cameras, and further, sadly, horrifically, they are clearly enjoying themselves with their laughs and jokes and self-congratulatory behavior. (And yes, it IS clear on the tape that children on in the van — if you bother to look.) These guys should be court-martialed and locked up in Leavenworth until they rot — and the folks in the Pentagon who covered this up should be fired, stripped of their pensions, black-balled, and left to rot on the breadlines. They are all an embarrassment to this nation and shame the uniform of those who fought to free our own shores from imperial occupiers.

    1. Yeah, it’s just not a righteous kill unless the terrorists have killed or wounded an American first. What could these guys have been thinking? Of course, not everyone can live up to your moral standards.

    2. The soldiers are lying to their superiors about the numbers of people present,

      I didn’t get that from the video at all. They reported about 20 people. Here is a screen cap I did where for a moment, you see a wider shot of the courtyard. I marked every person that I could see, and I come up with a total of about 17.

      I don’t believe Wikileaks is even contending that they were lying about the number of people present.

  59. Watching the video again, I was struck by the apparently very low standard for authorizing the attack. The person the pilots radio says that “We have no personnel east of our position. So, uh, you are free to engage, over.”

    Um, that’s a bit of a nonsequitur. I understand you want to be sure you’re not engaging in friendly fire, but the radio exchange makes it sound like that is ALL they are checking before they open up guns’-a-blazing. Those are some ROE they followed…

    1. Agreed. I think that they should wait until they’ve taken out at least a couple of your family members.

      1. You seem to specialize in the false dichotomy

      2. I doubt those journalists and children would’ve taken out Dan’s family.

        1. I doubt those journalists and children would’ve taken out Dan’s family.

          Funny, the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children dying of starvation and disease under the U.N. sanctions didn’t seem to bother you.

      3. I actively wish that your family dies in a terrorist attack.

        I would love to see a photo on the cover of the Time magazine showing you carrying your dead four year old son in your arms, crying, like that picture of that firefighter from that plane crash in – Kansas, was it?

        That would be awesome.

  60. Just got here. Saw the video. I am pissed off. Like Fluffy. No excuse. Total bullshit.

    Excusing this action is a disservice to anyone over yonder that plays by the sensible ROE: other humans deserve their humanity.

  61. If you watch the full video, there is even more evidence that the ROE were practically nonexistent. They see two guys they think are armed (at least one appears to be, hard to tell about the second) walk into a building and decide to shoot a Hellfire missile into the building. They mention there are six armed people in the building, but it is not clear who saw the other four enter the building since they are not on camera. They do not know what is in the building but say it appears to be abandoned or under construction.

    As they’re circling for a better angle (to avoid friendly fire), they see more people – not apparently armed – enter the building. But this does not deter them – in fact it seems to encourage them in their plans to fire a missile into the building.

    Then, as they are lining up the shot, a passerby walks down the sidewalk in front of the building, just a few yards from where they are targeting the missile. Do they wait until he walks by to avoid collateral damage? Nope, they just fire the missle right in there next to him and he disappears in the explosion and flying rubble…this is at about 34:30 of the unedited video.

    So, from watching the video, the ROE in effect appear to simply be “Avoid friendly fire. Kill any Iraqis with weapons. Don’t worry about civilians.”

    1. So we’re just going to wait until no one gets hurt before engaging the enemy? Better give the soldiers Nerf guns while you’re at it.

      1. Did you watch the video? It is not actually clear that anyone who walked into that building was actually an insurgent.

        Moreover, even assuming they were insurgents, there would have been zero cost to waiting a few more seconds for the passerby to walk past and be out of harm’s way. It was not particularly urgent to put a missile in the building. No one was taking fire from the building, and the helicopter circles several times to line it up just the way they want it to avoid friendly fire. If there’s time to avoid friendly fire, there’s time to avoid unneccessary “collateral damage.”

        And yes, I think the ROE should prioritize avoiding civilian casualties. Not only because it’s wrong to kill civilians unnecessarily, but because doing so aids the enemy by giving them plenty of propoganda.

  62. This will make a good training video for Apache pilots about when to shoot, and when to hold fire.

  63. Good lord, there’s more. They decide to fire another Hellfire missile into the same building. As they line up the shot, more apparent civilians are on the street, starting to examine the rubble. This is around 36:30 of the video. They do not pay any attention to this and are about to fire the missile when they get a “backscatter” warning and decide to back away further. Shortly after that, the other helicopter fires on the building – you don’t see it on camera, but you hear the guys in the helicopters talking about it. Very unlikely the apparent civilians would have moved away before the second Hellfire is fired into the building. Then the helicopter fires a third Hellfire missile into the same building and declares “Building Destroyed.”

    This is a really damning video of the very low standards for engaging under the ROE, IMO.

  64. War is hell. Noone sitting here (who hasn’t served in combat) is qualified to say one damn thing about the ROEs or the behavior of these soldiers or their commanders. The only thing we citizens can reasonably object to is the overall _mission_.

    And then, for a libertarian, the argument should be about whether the mission was one of self-defense. If so, then the best tactics are those that make damn sure the aggressors are deterred from violating our rights again, with minimal risk to our soldiers. My guess (I am not a military tactician) is that would require much more force than we see here.

    Using our soldiers for peace-keeping and nation-building is the problem here, not what we observe in this video.

    1. You are full of shit. One can criticize both the mission and the execution of the mission. I object to both. And even if the mission were legitimate, it still may not be acceptable for our soldiers to kill lots of civilians, particularly since it is killing in our name with our tax dollars.

      And people don’t need special military experience to be qualified to say that it is improper for the ROE to authorize firing on unarmed civilians. The videos show the helicopter doing that on several occassions, and the military claims they followed the ROE, so the ROE is evidently very permissive on collateral damage/civilian casualties. Citizens have every right to object to this sort of abuse of power.

      1. You think that a video is all of the context you need to make a qualified judgment on the decisions and actions of people whose lives are on the line in the midst of a war.

        You watch too much TV.

        1. Who said anything about the video being all the context I need to make a judgment? The video just tells me what happened from the POV of one of the helicopters. I make my judgment about what I’ve witnessed based on all sorts of things.

          And I can certainly deduce certain aspects of the ROE from what I see and hear in the video when permission to open fire is requested. If the helicopters in the video followed the ROE (as the military claims they did), then the ROE clearly does not prioritize avoiding civilian casualties.

          And your presumption is wrong – I watch very little TV. Not that it has any relevance.

        2. If you want context and an opinion from someone with more direct experience, see my post below at bottom with the impressions of a trained soldier who went to Iraq twice with the 3rd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division and has spent approximately 4500 hrs viewing aerial footage of Iraq. He agrees that the attack on the van was completely unjustified.

  65. Actually, it’s a big problem and I am qualified to talk about it and such engagements – and this is but one of many – are worse than crimes, they’re blunders.

    We’d have been out of Iraq long ago if it so many of my fellow soldiers – especially aviators and, I admit, my fellow tankers – weren’t so goddamn trigger happy.

    And as long citizens have the right to elect the political echelon that sends their Army to war they’re qualified say any damn thing they want about that war and how it is fought.

    1. That last sentence is a non-sequitur.

      1. How so?

  66. I have followed this discussion for several hours and have decided to put my two cents in. Granted my opinion is influenced by two years of combat service in Iraq and the knowledge and prejudices that brings to my points. First: Why the war started is an interesting discussion but irrelevant to this issue. These are soldiers who are following legal orders from the government and conducting warfare according to the approved rules of engagement. While all combat veterans share a common experience- right now the enemy is the enemy. Maybe in a few years I will drink and eat with the then former enemy, but now as a soldier I just want them neutralized or dead.
    Second: I am not convinced that the Reuters crew was not with a group of insurgents. It would not be the first time that occurred. If they were and they were killed, TFB. Do not hang around with the enemy since there is no “news crew exemption.” If they were not with the enemy then they were certainly too dumb to live long on an urban battlefield. Iraqi’s do have AK’s in their houses and they very well know that they can not take them onto the streets unless they are part of a defense group, the police or a recognized security group. (Recognized by wearing uniforms or reflective belts-both of which show up very well at long distances.) There is NO civilian in Iraq permitted by the Government of Iraq to have an RPG. To have one automatically makes one an enemy combatant. To carry an RPG, or something that resembles an RPG, into an area with recent shooting is suicidally stupid. To point said object it in any way that could resemble targeting someone or something is begging to be shot. In this case they were.
    Third: Just being shot does not make one a non-combatant unless one makes recognized gestures of surrender or is clearly not a threat. The act of reaching for a weapon turns you right back into a combatant the same as if you were never hit. A soldiers job is to kill combatants.
    Fourth: I have been shot at from marked ambulances and civilian vehicles so from my experience not every “civilian vehicle” is a civilian vehicle in this style of warfare. The vehicle and people in question are not clearly marked as medics and they are heading toward people shot as combatants- therefore they are combatants. Non medics have no special right to remove combatants to receive medical treatment. War sucks and acting like Florence Nightingale can get you killed. Children in the vehicle is a non-issue. There was no way for this crew to determine that they were there. They made quick decisions based on what they saw and what had been happening in the area.
    Fifth: If people identified as combatants run into a structure they turn that structure into a target. The US military takes great pains not to target purely civilian structures and again I have seen with my own eyes armed combatants emerge from mosques whereupon we killed them, but did not touch the mosque. In fact the mosque was searched only by Iraqis with no Americans entering the structure in order to respect local religious views. The crews in this case believed this was a enemy hide hole and acted according to the ROE to destroy it. In 2007 and much of 2008 New Baghdad and Sadr City were strongly under enemy control and the crews were acting under a reasonable assumption and received permission. IMHO.

    US Forces are acting under great restraint and are doing their best to end each day with less and not more enemies in Iraq. I know only what I saw and experienced myself and what I experienced was that US commanders while supporting the absolute right to self defense take allegations of abuse or improper death very seriously. For the last several years every time US forces use their weapons it is investigated by the chain of command and any improper acts are dealt with.

    I would expect the crews to be “up” when engaging the enemy. They acted in a manner they believed protected themselves, fellow soldiers and the Iraqi people. Almost every soldier I know, myself included, felt very up when an enemy died after trying to kill us. It is only later that everybody must process that knowledge for the rest of their own lives.

    The current war in Iraq involves various enemy insurgencies (al qaeda & proxies and Iranian backed militias, are the primary ones with a few remaining hard corps saddamists and nationalists)who do not follow the GHC. To do so would leave themselves open for quick destruction by Iraqi and American forces. The enemy are fighting in methods that quickly adapt but are characterized by techniques common to insurgencies. These techniques make civilian casualties all but certain, and in may cases desirable to the insurgents. That is one reason US forces attempt to minimize civilian casualties.

    As I see it Reuters has their own ax to grind here. Their reporters died and it is easier to blame somebody else or that fate was not kind. We will never know for a fact if a Reuters employee encouraged the crew to “follow the sound of the guns” and afterwards realized what that could mean. A guilty feeling can encourage great zeal “at finding out the real truth.”

    For those who condemn the soldiers and have never had to make irrevocable split second decisions I ask that you honestly ask yourselves, “What would I do if: for many months an enemy has tried to kill me and my friends, I have been sent into an area where shots have been fired and now I have the drop on a group of people with observed weapons who are apparently targeting friendly forces; I have only fragmentary information and if I decide wrong I or my friends may die?” Remember: RPG’s can shoot down an helicopter (again seen myself)or slice open a armored vehicle. This is a bad part of Baghdad full of both Iranian supported militias and AQI trying to wrest the area and kill friendly forces. And by the way-there is no way for me to know if there are news crews in the area. Not such an easy decision now, is it?

    There are many truisms about warfare but for me the reality is that it is a brutal nasty affair in which the guilty and innocent both die. It should be unleashed only in dire straits and should be fought with every tool in the national arsenal required for victory.

    Again this begs the large question whether or not was this the right war at the right time. But that question is for the citizens of our nation. Our armed forces fight when, where and how our civilian government dictates- as is their job. To implement policy and not make it. (Again begging the questions of DADT etc.)

    1. Thanks for your service. And I agree with all of your points.

    2. Great post.

      When I watched the video, one thing came to mind. These soldiers are asked to make decisions on whether or not to kill someone based on a grainy, low fidelity image. Apparently my $199 cell phone records and displays better quality video than an Apache helicopter.

      Also, if we are to blame anyone for the unnecessary death of civilians, it’s the enemy combatants that ignore the rules of the Geneva convention specifically designed to prevent unnecessary casualties.

    3. Old Vet= Fellow Vet,
      Thank you for the response. Well put, for the most part. As a fellow soldier who also spent time there and experienced similar things, I would like to reinforce this point you made, because it is an important one in this situation:

      “I have been shot at from marked ambulances and civilian vehicles so from my experience not every “civilian vehicle” is a civilian vehicle in this style of warfare. The vehicle and people in question are not clearly marked as medics and they are heading toward people shot as combatants- therefore they are combatants. Non medics have no special right to remove combatants to receive medical treatment. War sucks and acting like Florence Nightingale can get you killed. Children in the vehicle is a non-issue. There was no way for this crew to determine that they were there. They made quick decisions based on what they saw and what had been happening in the area.”

      The enemy there deliberately attempts to blend in with the population, whether a foreign fighter or not. That is the main part of the tactics they use. They are notorious for shooting out of mosques, hospitals, and using women and children for cover or as suicide bombers. Even with 40 minutes of video, or even and hour, there is no way to tell what had been going on in that area previously.

      1. The fact that the enemy deliberately attempts to blend in with the civilian population does not excuse the unnecessary targeting of civilians. There is nothing in the video indicating that this is a situation where insurgents were hiding behind human shields, etc.

        The fact that bad guys sometimes drive civilian vans does not make it ok to target all civilian vans.

        The fact that insurgents sometimes dress like or mix with civilians does not make it ok to target civilians.

        There is absolutely ZERO indicating that the people in or near the van that are picking up the wounded man are combatants. They do not appear to be armed (and the helicopter pilots say nothing about them being armed, unlike everyone else they target). They do nothing threatening. Merely approaching a wounded man and assisting him does not make someone a combatant.

        1. I did not say it is OK to target civilians, I was simply pointing out the tactics the enemy uses. I did not, nor will, I watch the video for personal reason. At least not now.

    4. “To carry an RPG, or something that resembles an RPG, into an area with recent shooting is suicidally stupid. To point said object it in any way that could resemble targeting someone or something is begging to be shot.”

      The problem is that at that range, with the resolution of the Apache targeting camera, LOTS of things appear to be RPGs or other weapons. Anyone carrying anything is apparently presumed to have a weapon. A camera with a telephoto lens does not look like an RPG to you and I, but at that range with that resolution, apparently it was enough to confuse the pilots. That speaks to the need to more clearly identify targets before opening fire.

    5. “Just being shot does not make one a non-combatant unless one makes recognized gestures of surrender or is clearly not a threat. The act of reaching for a weapon turns you right back into a combatant the same as if you were never hit. A soldiers job is to kill combatants.”

      Sure, and when did the wounded man on the ground ever reach for a weapon? The pilots are even begging him to do so, but don’t. Then, he suddenly becomes a combatant when some unarmed people in a van pull up and try to assist him. How does that suddenly make him (or them) combatant(s)?

      1. Once a combatant always a combatant until such time as you make affirmative actions (raising hands, white flag etc) to become a non-combatant. Simply attempting to crawl away confirms combatant status. Rushing to aid a combatant without recognized medical status makes you a combatant. There is no requirement to be openly carrying arms. If you are running away and drop your weapon-no change in status. What you seem to be missing is that this is warfare and not “lawfare” in a safe city. The reason the GHC make attempts to have combatants wear recognizable uniforms (not even a complete uniform but a recognizable mark or item worn by all)is to attempt to safeguard civilians. If your method of warfare involves looking like a civilian and hiding among civilians it makes tragic events inevitable. (Again, I am still not convinced that the reporters had not embedded themselves among insurgents, it seems very possible given that other weapons were reported to have been found at the scene.)

        As for the jab at invoking the Nuremburg Defense. Soldiers are obligated to not follow, and report, illegal orders. As a military lawyer explained it- “You had better be right or you’re going to jail forever.” This is an not a Katyn Forest, Mi Lai or einzatsgruppen action. This is an event that took place among other events in an area known for repeated combat actions. Possibly tragic, yes. Criminal, no.

        Did the sniper who shot Ernie Pyle commit a war crime? He shot a reporter. A reporter on a battlefield dressed much like a combatant. IMHO-no.

        1. See my post below at bottom with the impressions of a trained soldier who went to Iraq twice with the 3rd Brigade 3rd Infantry Division and has spent approximately 4500 hrs viewing aerial footage of Iraq. He agrees that the attack on the van was completely unjustified.

          This is what you said before:

          “Just being shot does not make one a non-combatant unless one makes recognized gestures of surrender or is clearly not a threat. The act of reaching for a weapon turns you right back into a combatant the same as if you were never hit.”

          Now you say:
          “Once a combatant always a combatant until such time as you make affirmative actions (raising hands, white flag etc) to become a non-combatant. Simply attempting to crawl away confirms combatant status.”

          You seem to be having trouble keeping your story straight. Those are two different standards.

          How does the fact that an (unarmed) wounded man is crawling on the sidewalk confirm his combatant status? In what way does he pose any threat at all to anyone? When he’s being targeted by a helicopter that is perhaps a mile away, and may not even be aware of, how is he supposed to know to surrender by raising his hands in the air or showing a white flag?

          Moreover, the helicopter pilots in the video themselves thought he was no longer a combatant as he crawled along the sidewalk. That’s why they didn’t shoot and made comments begging him to reach for a gun so that they could engage him again.

          “Rushing to aid a combatant without recognized medical status makes you a combatant.”

          Please offer any substantiation to your claim that providing medical assistance to a wounded combatant makes someone a combatant.

          Where do I invoke the Nuremburg defense?

          1. You are right. I was trained that if he is crawling away, or shot/wounded and no longer a threat, you cannot engage him. I would say instead of trying to “get” these soldiers and turn this into a criminal act, we should focus on using this tragedy as a reason to get out of the war, along with many other reasons.

  67. There is no good answer here. This is what people should expect to get when they blindly give their sanction to the national governments of the world.

    To the degree that the people hand the world over to their so-called leaders, as though it were some ridiculous real-life game of Risk, they should not complain when those leaders then decide to play for keeps. If the people would wake up and refuse to play, these things would no longer happen — they are not necessary. On the personal level, people may have differences, but the range of contact I routinely have with people of many different nations suggests to me that international conflict is universally superfluous. National animosities are evidently conceived, fomented and eventually ‘solved’ entirely by rulers and governments.

    The key is that the people are easily fooled into believing that the relationship is symbiotic; that their rulers are a reflection of themselves — but my observations do not indicate that such is the case. They do not readily perceive that the choices they are given are false; so they throw their support behind this thug or that, perfectly unaware that it would be better to support none. As they are effectively unaware of such an option, they consequently adopt an ideological alignment with the team they have chosen — they chose it, and they are therefore easily led to project its own potential failure on themselves. Such a phenomenon clearly tends toward self-perpetuation.

    And…so it goes…

  68. Ahhhh you lousy fucking Americans eh. What would do without you?? What would we do without you killing innocent civilians or dropping airstrikes on your allies or torturing people and then boastfully taking photos. You people are like a dog that humps everyones legs. You need your fucking bollocks chopped off.

    1. Your bigoted attitude toward what you generically refer to as ‘Americans’ is cut from the same cloth as certain similar sentiments held by a small percentage of actual Americans, which are used to justify the very injustices you are complaining about. That is, the attitude you display above is at the heart of what is perpetuating the problem, on all sides; what is needed is to break down the walls that separate people, not build them up.

      That begins with a willingness to judge people based on their positions, not their nationalities, and a recognition that a government’s actions almost never represent the will of its people. In the US, for example, it can generally be said that only about 20-25% of people, judging by the vote, positively support what the government does — and of those, how many only vote the way they do because they are really only given two choices?

      But you ignore such facts and instead choose to nurse a blind hatred for ‘Americans’. Open your eyes — and your mind — choose to be a part of the solution, rather than a part of the problem.

  69. “These are soldiers who are following legal orders from the government and conducting warfare according to the approved rules of engagement.”

    There you have it. They were only following orders!

  70. Here is what a trained soldier with a great deal of experience watching these types of videos of engagements in Iraq said about the video:…

    “The point at which I cannot support the actions of Crazyhorse 18, at all, comes when the van arrives somewhere around 9:45 and is engaged. Unless someone had jumped out with an RPG ready to fire on the aircraft, there was no threat warranting a hail of 30mm from above. Might it have been prudent to follow the vehicle (perhaps with a UAV), or at least put out a BOLO (Be On the Look Out) for the vehicle? Absolutely without question. Was this portion of the engagement even remotely understandable, to me? No, it was not.

    All in all, the engagement clearly went bad. I would have objected when I was a private first-class pulling triple duty as an RTO, driver, and vehicle gunner. I would have objected when I was a sergeant working well above my pay-grade as the Brigade Battle NCO. My assessment is based on my experiences in that very theater of operations. I did not see a threat that warranted an engagement at any point. I did, however, see the elements indicating such a threat could develop at any moment.”

  71. Older Vet sez……” First: Why the war started is an interesting discussion but irrelevant to this issue. These are soldiers who are following legal orders from the government and conducting warfare according to the approved rules of engagement.”

    is there such a thing as a legal order in an illegal war?

    the reasons for this “war” are very relevent to this discussion

    me, I think this is just another Abu Ghrib moment…..a bunch of ignorant fucking clowns getting their rocks off by shooting something up

  72. If journalists followed their own rules about CLEARLY identifying themselves as journalists in a war zone, these journalists wouldn’t have been killed. Also, rules of engagement allowed the Apache pilots to fire upon the van since it did not have a marker indicating that it was an ambulance or Red Cross vehicle.

  73. Also, rules of engagement allowed the Apache pilots to fire upon the van since it did not have a marker indicating that it was an ambulance or Red Cross vehicle.

    WRONG, Looser!!!

    Hope there?s a RED CROSS on your Chirdren?s SCHOOL. Maybe sometime
    a “Bad Tourist” would carrying a Camera in the same Street.

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