Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Collateral Murder

In 2007, two Iraqi Reuters staff members were caught in crossfire between US forces and Shiite militias. A corresponding news article can be found here. Following the incident, Reuters requested a thorough enquiry into the deaths and surrounding circumstances. The two employees were photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40.

Saeed Chmagh (left) and Namir Noor-Eldeen (right)

Now to the messed-up part. A couple days ago, a friend pointed me to wikileaks.org. Apparently, the onboard video from a US apache tells a different story than news reports. In the video, decrypted by wikileaks after un-named sources leaked it, the viewer can clearly see two men carrying cameras...which the soldiers identify as weapons. A little later, one man (Noor-Eldeen) can be seen kneeling from behind a building, attempting to take pictures of something down the road. Soldiers in the helicopter mistake his camera for a weapon, and they claim they were taking RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire. However, it is obvious the apache was never fired upon. There are two men armed with guns in the video, but they do not pose an aggressive threat to the chopper. Still, all are gunned down, primarily by gunman "Crazy Horse 1-8." Commentary from soldiers reveals how eager they are to shoot something. One eerie detail of the video is how the crosshairs follow Chmagh.

Here, you can see the crosshairs on Chmagh, with Noor-Eldeen in the bottom-right corner (both have cameras).

Minutes later, a minivan pulls up along one of the journalists who is succumbing to his wounds on the side of the road. Two children can be seen in the front passenger side of the minivan. With unarmed samaritans picking up the barely-alive Reuters employee, command gives the choppers permission to fire. One of the shells hits the minivan and obliterates it. When it is realized that the US forces screwed up and shot kids, the two wounded children are deferred to Iraqi hospitals. One soldier remarks, "well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle." To which the commander replies, "that's right."

Whistleblowers make the world go 'round.

Other relevant websites:
cpj.org - Committee to Protect Journalists
Namir Noor-Eldeen - Tribute to photojournalist killed
collateralmurder.com - Website dedicated to the video

[NOTE: This line is meant only to separate my links from the automatic timestamp following the blog. This is the only way to keep them from blending together]

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