Martin C. Evans

Grim Video Shows Civilian Deaths By U.S. Hand

In Uncategorized on April 7, 2010 at 7:15 pm

A leaked 2007 video showing a Reuters journalist and his driver being shot dead by an Army helicopter crew in Baghdad has lit up the blogosphere.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is taking issue with the outcry, saying the video’s images may not convey the full story.

“Combat operations are complex and any attempt to summarize them risks taking things out of context,” said Maj. John Redfield, a spokesman for the United States Central Command. “It doesn’t show the entire picture of everything that happened.”

The Web site Wikileaks.com released what it describes as an 18-minute video shot from an Apache helicopter gun site. Redfield said the video, which shows more than a dozen men killed in a hail of 30mm cannon fire, appears to be authentic.

Several military related blogs, including VeteransToday.com, have been strongly critical of the shootings. And a spokesperson for the Committee to Protect Journalists said the organization planned to ask the Pentagon to reopen an investigation into the incident.

“News flash: picking up wounded bodies is not a hostile act,” wrote a self-described Black Hawk pilot and Iraq veteran on the blog “Wings over Iraq.”

The video, apparently taken as the flight crew monitored a group of insurgents on the ground, shows the gunner focusing on a journalist among them who was carrying a camera, then opening fire on the crowd. Later, as rescuers who arrive in a van try to pull a gravely-wounded Reuters employee inside, the gunner fires on the rescuers, wounding two children inside the van.

The Army’s 1st Cavalry Division, for which the helicopters flew, issued a July 20, 2007 report on the incident.

The report concluded that the crew, which was escorting a U.S. ground patrol, fired after seeing an individual near the Reuters journalist crouching to fire a rocket propelled grenade toward U.S. troops.

“There was neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces,” the report stated.

But reaction to the video has been sharp, with many objecting to  seemingly flippant comments made by the helicopter crew during and after the shootings.

“This highly disturbing video appears to show that after the initial attack, US troops opened fire on people seeking to assist a wounded man, injuring two children, and killing several more people,” Malcolm Smart, director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa program, said in a statement posted on the organization’s website.

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