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Apr 6, 2010

US Army "video game" killings tape goes viral

Internet outrage is growing after website Wikileaks exposed a ‘decrypted’ video from a US Apache helicopter that appears to show US forces in Iraq killing at least 11 unarmed civilians in 2007, reports Harley Dennett.


Whistleblower website Wikileaks.org has released ‘decrypted’ video from a US Apache helicopter that appeared to show US forces in Iraq firing upon and killing at least 11 unarmed civilians who stopped to inspect an injured insurgent in 2007. Two children, not visible in the video, were also injured.

Now uploaded to YouTube, the video’s audio includes: “Is that an RPG [Rocket Propelled Grenade]?”; “All right, we got a guy with an RPG”; “I’m gonna fire”; “Let me know when you’ve got them all”.

Then later: “Roger, I’ve got uh 11 Iraqi KIAs [Killed In Action]. One small child wounded. Over”; “Roger. Ah damn. Oh well”’; “Roger, we need, we need a uh to evac [evacuate] this child. Ah, she’s got a uh, she’s got a wound to the belly”; “Well it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.”

The US has not changed its rules of engagement since the attack. No Australian troops were involved.

Two Reuters employees, 22-year-old photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen and 40-year-old driver Saeed Chmagh, were among those killed. The video appears to show individuals carrying a camera and tripod. The video shows one of the media men injured and attempting to crawl away when a voice says: “All you gotta do is pick up a weapon.”

The Pentagon at first denied US forces were responsible for the deaths of the two Reuters employees, and repeatedly denied the media agency’s requests for access to the video.

Now, it seems, it will take action. Brandon Friedman, Director of New Media with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, tweeted: “Just to be clear about the #wikileaks video: The guy who decided to fire on the van should be facing a court martial.”

Crikey attended a press conference in DC early this morning Australian time, where Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange explained the video was leaked by an individual within the US Armed Services and corroborated by several others over a period of several months.

“The behavior of the pilots is like they’re playing a video game. It’s like they want to get high-scores in that computer game,” Assange said. But the leak of the video “sends a message within the US military that do not like what is going on”. “There are good people there.”

Wikileaks created a website at collateralmurder.com with additional information about the events, including Reuters’ failed Freedom of Information requests.

The release today was not unanticipated. Wikileaks announced last month via its Twitter account that it decrypted US military video of civilians and journalists being killed. It also claimed its employees have been subject to surveillance and intimidation by US and Icelandic officials for months, including an ambush by a “James Bond character in a Luxemburg car park”. The Icelandic government denied involvement, but the US has said nothing. A 32-page US counter-intelligence report from 2008 later appeared on Wikileaks describing risks the site poses to US security and describing ways to uncover its sources. Nonetheless, last week Wikileaks asked the CIA to stop spying on it.

In response to today’s Wikileaks press conference, the Pentagon released a statement that it was aware of the footage and that it appeared to relate to a previously investigated incident in 2007, but did not confirm its authenticity. Reuters appeared to need no further confirmation, releasing a statement in the name of editor-in-chief David Schlesinger:

“The deaths of Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh three years ago were tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones. We continue to work for journalist safety and call on all involved parties to recognise the important work that journalists do and the extreme danger that photographers and video journalists face in particular. The video released today via Wikileaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result.”

The US media did not respond at all in the hours after the announcement this morning. More than a dozen journalists from US media outlets attended the press conference, but it was Al Jazeera who first aired the footage, followed by the Huffington Post, The Guardian and then the BBC.

High interest on social media websites, including Twitter and reddit.com, and it’s accessibility via embeddable YouTube meant the story continued to spread on new media even without involvement of mainstream US media. The main story of the day was live coverage of Tiger Woods’ press conference at Augusta.

Seven hours after the release, MSNBC was the first US network to air ‘breaking news’ of the footage, a segment that quickly returned to coverage of domestic political matters.

More than half of Americans still use television as their only source of news according to the Pew Research Center.

At time of writing, many US news websites have picked up wire accounts of the video, but no other news network has aired the footage or mentioned its existence on air.


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26 thoughts on “US Army “video game” killings tape goes viral

  1. Greg Angelo

    I have just spent 17 minutes watching this absolutely revolting demonstration of the misuse of military power by the United States. Normally my sympathy is with the US, but in this case there is no justification whatsoever for machine-gunning unarmed people including children trapped in the car whilst adults were trying to help a wounded man. This is the sort of disgusting behaviour that was attributed to the Nazis in World War II, and subsequently the communists in the Cold War.

    If this is an example of what we are fighting for Iraq and Afghanistan God help us. The dispassionate misuse of power by a trigger happy idiots, and the laughter when one of the tracked vehicles ran over the body of one of the victims makes me want to vomit!

    What is worse is the facile comments made by military commanders in relation to these gross misuse of power is reminiscent of the body count bullshit which we had to endure in the Vietnam were by definition if you were killed by American you are a Vietcong without any consideration of evidence. TheUgly American is truly alive and well!

    If I was an Iraqi, my inclination would be to take revenge on Americans for their racist and callous lack of consideration consideration for the lives of others. If there is any justice the troops concerned should appear before a war crimes tribunal. Based on what is self-evident in the video there is no and I repeat absolutely no justification for the brutality displayed. These trigger-happy idiots and the equally incompetent military controllers should face independent justice.

  2. Sancho

    I’m already arguing about this on Little Green Footballs, so if anyone would like to lob in and claim that it’s okay for the US to murder civilians because the Islamists do it so much worse, I’ve got a steaming tub of copypasta ready to go.

  3. Richard Wilson

    You need to know something about Wikileaks.
    In January 2007, John Young who runs http://www.cryptome.org, a site that publishes a wealth of sensitive and classified information, left Wikileaks, claiming the operation was a CIA front. Young also published some 150 email messages sent by Wikileaks activists on cryptome.

    There is quite a bit of “mail” coming out of Asia and Russia about Wikileaks as a CIA co-intel operation so perhaps be a little cautious about motives behind some of the stuff you are getting upset about. It may be true but you need to question the possible purpose for its “leaking”.

    Check it out for yourself and make your own decision…

    BTW Here is the full uncut version of the Collateral Damage Apache movie from cryptome.org – no tricked up commentary here – just the footage and voices.
    It’s about 39 minutes but you get the full story (requires sign-in):


  4. Marcus Giles

    The cavalier attitude and vocally expressed joy in the gunning down of the obviously relaxed targets was the most disturbing thing for me.

    These guys didn’t know what they were looking at and should not have opened fired or even requested it.

    I want to know why the ABC didn’t so much as mention this video on the radio this morning…? Too busy opening their canned news to look and see what going on in the real time world of news?

  5. juzzy

    It’s disturbing and it’s tragic, and it happens all the time.

    One thing I find particularly interesting is that (according to this article at least – I’m at work and don’t have time to peruse every news channel in the US) the MSM aren’t running it, merely referring to its existence.
    This is the Media that was happy to be “embedded”, and therefore censored, from the start of the Iraq invasion.
    Worth noting that the one US media outlet that sued for reporters in Iraq to be able to actually report, not just rehash the military’s press releases, was Larry Flynt’s Hustler. Just sayin.
    Makes me wonder how many journalists had seen it and elected not to report on it, and makes me glad of the existence of Wikileaks and the internets in general.

  6. johana

    Thankfully, we here in Australia will shortly be shielded from being exposed to such horrible footage from sites such as wikileaks, which will almost certainly make the government’s ISP filter list.
    Lucky us. /sarcasm

  7. Sancho

    You need to know something about Wikileaks.

    Why would a CIA front leak something that tarnishes the US military?

  8. Bob the builder

    Given the CIA has been trying to discredit wikileaks (largely unsuccessfully) it would make sense for them to spread rumours about wikileaks being run by them. If they really wanted to leak stuff, there’s many more avenues than wikileaks. I’m happy to have an open mind about this, but given the abundant evidence about the undue influence of vested interests on much of the media, I think I know where I’ll direct my energies.

  9. Elan

    Agreed BtB. When I read Richard Wilson’s post, the first thing that occurred to me, was that this was a perfect way to discredit Wikileaks.

    Intelligence services have repeatedly used this tactic, and will continue to do so. The CIA is notorious for disinformation.

    I have c/p’d my post from an unrelated thread. I had put this up there, as an example:

    ………………… and very graphic video of a slaughter of innocent Iraqi’s by a bloody US gunship,- the gunner being congratulated on his shooting-the pilot calling the slaughter ‘nice’. …and the horror of watching the gunship closing in on a journalist who was very badly wounded desperately crawling to try to save his life. There were two journalists. Both carrying camera equipment which were taken for: I quote the curséd pilot “AK 47’s”.

    The Pentagon justified this 2007 murder.

    Someone had a conscience. The footage IS from the gunship. We see what they see. We hear the aircrew talking.

    And we see people simply walking down the street. They do not run. They do not hide. They were innocent, and thus felt no threat or fear when they heard the gunship.

    WE could see this clearly. That aircrew saw it too, and yet…

    Their innocent victims were sitting ducks.

    And of course, this is something that we have been made aware of. There is allegedly MUCH more of this type of behaviour.

    The chilling thing about such behaviour is that they saw this as sanctioned. They knew they could get away with it.

  10. Bob the builder

    Yes, clearly the people on the ground didn’t feel in danger or that they were doing anything that would make them a target of attack. In the longer, unedited version (http://www.youtube.com/user/sunshinepress#p/a/u/1/is9sxRfU-ik) you can see a later missile attack on a building and it goes ahead even though a civilian is casually walking past (and is presumably killed instantly).
    The utter bored, routine nature of the discussions and procedures would suggest that this sort of action is very much the norm. A quick laugh about running over one of the bodies in a tank and discussion moves on.
    Of course the odd western reporter like Robert Fisk has for years told us this, but for the most part the meedja is happy to keep to their script.
    Interesting point too about mainstream US news websites not picking up on this for ages; there’s also not a great deal of coverage on Australia media websites. And they wonder why they’re losing readers – it’s not because their primary platform is paper, it’s because their content is self-censored shit. People who care about news will pay for good news, people who don’t care about news won’t pay for shit news, they’ll either get it free or read something else.

  11. Richard Wilson

    More on who is telling the truth?

    According to Wayne Madsen’s blog http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread557541/pg1, today:
    “Wikileaks is running a disinformation campaign, crying persecution by U.S. intelligence- when it is U.S. intelligence itself. Its [Wikileaks’] activities in Iceland are totally suspect.” Wikileaks claims it is the victim of a new COINTELPRO [Counter Intelligence Program] operation directed by the Pentagon and various U.S. intelligence agencies. WMR’s sources believe that it is Wikileaks that is part and parcel of a cyber-COINTELPRO campaign, such as that proposed by President Obama’s “information czar,” Dr. Cass Sunstein. In January 2007, John Young, who runs cryptome.org, a site that publishes a wealth of sensitive and classified information, left Wikileaks, claiming the operation was a CIA front. Young also published some 150 email messages sent by Wikileaks activists on cryptome”.

    Trouble is it may be Madsen who is the covert operative, however after being jailed in the UK a year or so ago for his commentary on Iraq and Afghanistan, it is perhaps less likely. And Young, the former Wikileaks director who outed them on his new web site cryptome.org could also be I guess.

    One commentator at WMR made an interesting point about Hal Turner – a far right blogger who turned out to be an FBI operative set up by the FBI to suss out all of the neo nazis and good ole boys before things went pear shaped on him:

    “If it is fact that the US intelligence community uses people in this way, to be mouth-pieces to help them identify “radicals amongst us”, then bet your “pants” that they are using more then one “agent”. So… accepting this is true (if you do), the reasonable next step would be to “try and identify who is working for them in alternative media”.
    So…who else is unaware of the fact that their “highly dangerous fringe class” is being watched, studied and controlled through “clever tactics”?

    Maybe they only had enough money to purchase Hal and couldn’t afford Glenn, Alex, Dace, Steve and all the other pot stirring media stars who are so inclined to promote our little “conspiracy hobby” on every network (and radio) on earth.”

    Wikileaks has former Google internet security expert Ben Laurie on its board and Google are the guys that recently signed a cooperative agreement with the NSA (bigger and more powerful than the CIA in the US network of 17 affiliated intelligence organisations). Young’s contention is that Wikileaks has been set up primarily to hack into computers in China using a series of Chinese dissidents living in the US, some of whom are also on the Wikileaks advisory board. The suggestion is that after hacking the Chinese computers and rerouting the activity indirectly back into US hardware, the US announces through its friendly media that they have been subject to Chinese cyber attack. That is the general sense of what Young is saying.

    I don’t know who to believe but it pays to be cautious.
    I wish we could count on one reliable source of insider information. Imagine if it turned out to be a front. Think of all of that anonymous material from genuine whistleblowers that could then be tracked down. Ughhh!

  12. Bob the builder

    This isn’t about wikileaks – the point is the footage is genuine.

    I’d hate to get all bogged down into a US-style conspiracy theory thing, but…. : –

    If you go http://cryptome.org/ and page-search this phrase “Cryptome: Here are the 2007 Wikileaks emails” you’ll see a link to the emails and cryptome’s discussion – he does not say they are a front, he just says they are happy to use the desires of dodgy organisations like the CIA for their own ends. Dangerous, dubious, silly it may be, but a front not.

    Any group that threatens powerful people will come under threat and be targeted with smears if the bigger sticks fail to work. I saw if from state police when I was marginally involved in student politics – if they’re going to bother with a few students (including harassing phone calls to private residences, bugging phones, lying to the media) they’re sure as hell going to bother with people actually doing something effective.

    It’s par for the course and as either observers or participants we have to decide whether to be completely vigilant and suspicious or accept it happens and use common sense. Big flaws in both approaches, but either way, we should not lose sight of the main game, which in this case is the casual, wanton killing of innocent people in an illegal war and occupation.

  13. marty ross

    “I don’t know who to believe but it pays to be cautious.”

    You’re not being cautious, you’re being paranoid, and you’re giving unwarranted credence to loons.

  14. Elan

    To be honest with you Richard Wilson, I have absolutely NO illusion about the intelligence machinations of any country.

    What has that to do with this footage? Are you saying this footage is false?

    (That would be interesting, because the Pentagon has acknowledged it, and justified it. THAT says the footage is genuine).

    Now if this footage is true,-what bearing does the motivation of Wikileaks have?

    Are you suggesting that because they are allegedly a bunch of bad guys, that somehow sanitises the behaviour of the gutless yellow scum that were in that gunship?

    Surely not??

    Marty Ross: can you explain what/who you mean? Cheers.

  15. Elan

    It is saddening to see that we can put up so many posts on ‘illegals’/housing-foreign ownership/and even Kate Ellis’ dress code (incl of myself!) etc., yet we view footage of people being slaughtered in front of our eyes by our so-called allies,-and it generates minimum comment.

    WTF happened to common decency?

  16. Richard Wilson

    Well said Bob the Builder!
    It is true that endless no win wars for the profit of no more than a dozen military industrial complex corporations and oil companies (all ultimately owned or controlled by the global financial cabal) at the expense of the innocent people on both sides is sickening. But so is the silence from our gutless and mindless MSM which is little more than the propaganda arm of the State. There are now just six corporations who run media worldwide and they all source Associated Press for their international news position. AP is owned by Reuters which I am led to believe is owned by none other than the largest banking family in the world; so vanilla mind control is all that is likely to come out of 90% of the MSM. Thank heavens for Crikey – we 200 intrepid readers are at least spared the daily puke and bile emanating from every orifice of these witless zombie communication daijjals . My great dream is that these guys go out of business quick and 15% of the population wake from the deep sleep they have been placed in for the last 50 or so years. Even the polysyllabic emanations of Bernard Keane have gotta beat the
    sequential five word injunctions of the MSM.

  17. marty ross

    Elan, my post was directed at Richard Wilson. I don’t know the details of the internal spat at Wikileaks, and frankly I don’t care. I tried to read the Madsen blog, but it was clearly pointless, just a swamp of unsubstantiated and largely incomprehensible and ridiculously implausible innuendo.

    As you and other posters have pointed out, the accusations against Wikileaks are a complete red herring here. But, the herring is also very smelly.

    As it happens, I know Julian Assange. For anyone who knows Julian, the suggestion that he is in any sense a CIA stooge is absolutely preposterous. Of course that’s not evidence for anyone else, or of others in Wikileaks. But the work that Wikileaks has already done should be plenty evidence enough.

  18. Elan

    Got it, thanks Marty.


  19. Heliosphere

    I saw this yesterday and was disgusted by it. It’s depressing that it won’t get the coverage it deserves.. at least we have the internet to get the word out in some form I guess.

  20. Daniel

    Woah, check this out! I just read on http://www.illuminatisecrets.com that Wikileaks is actually run by the zombie corpse of JFK and Elvis’ ghost! I know this might sound suspect, but don’t worry because a random forum post on http://www.schizoravings.com/forum totally backs up this crucial information.

  21. Elan

    Yes Heliosphere also agree. This is where the ‘net is invaluable. We can communicate and highlight these things.

    For now…

  22. Alexander Berkman

    this is just the tip of the ice berg of the carnage unleashed upon civilians by the US military. estimates anywhere up to a million dead since 2003 not to mention the million more (mostly children) during the 12 yr ‘blockade’ . how ironic that the world’s largest terrorist organisation continues to claim the moral high ground, backed by the wrold media whilst murdering hundreds of thousands of people in their invasions to control world resources. Take a look at William Blum’s book, ROGUE STATE and see what the CIA / US military has done since 1947, and see how it is on par to the travesty that the Nazi’s did during the second world war but with a much larger ‘body’ count…… sickening stuff and NEVER questioned by corporate media…

  23. Bob the builder

    …whereas I would find it quite easy to believe this was fed to the media deliberately to muddy the waters (again, this does not invalidate the authenticity or horror of the contents) –

    The ABC has obtained a chilling new bomber’s-eye video of the Marriott hotel suicide bombing that killed five people, including three Australians, in Jakarta last year.

    Interestingly the uncut video seems unavailable and what was shown had no subtitles. I don’t believe there is any foul play at all here, but 1) it seems the mainstream media just can’t get it about openness and 2) I’ll bet (despite the much lower levels of openness) there are no insinuations about the ABC being a tool of the CIA, etc., etc., etc.

  24. Elan

    Weeeeelll,..the are the Government station. Tha’ never knows..?

    The footage is interesting, in what it is NOT showing,- though I also agree that this was vile.

    There is the release today of an American soldier held by the Taliban,-pleading for release. This is also timely in my view, though I feel compassion for that bloke and his family.

    I ALSO feel compassion for the countless victims of these ‘liberations’ by the so-called ‘good guys’.
    It is significant in my view, that every time there is an attempt to show this abuse of power,-footage is released of innocent victims (West) to counter it.

    Clearly those Iraqi’s and Afghan’s slaughtered in these invasions, are not innocent victims….

    I doubt that anything will change whilst we allow one country to think it has the right to dictate to the rest of the world. And without question, we HAVE allowed that. We have even assisted in that endeavour.

    I hope that time will show what a terrible mistake this was.

    The route unfortunately is soaked with the blood of (‘collateral damage’, a vile disgusting euphemism),-the innocent.

  25. Richard Wilson

    @Bob the Builder

    The ABC like all mainstream media is merely a mouthpiece for the State playing the same game as the others…feeding off Associated Press for its overseas content and govt. press releases and “leaks” for local content except for the requisite “man bites dog” and celebrity scandal stories. It won’t do anything to upset the officials who manage this satrap.

    I am sorry what I am about to say is a bit off topic but witness “toeing the party line” reporting on just about any issue these days from immigration to vaccination! No debates, just public notices on what to do or what to expect. Whatever, the Tax Exempt Foundations are floating for their global financier owners are being portrayed as fait accompli brave new directions in policy settings from education privatisation to any manner of public private partnerships (PPP’s). You know PPP’s, bankers love them for the fees they generate. But really all they are in my view is get rich quick scams where a government (local, state or federal) sells out the people’s assets i.e. resources or income producing utilities for cash to retire debt, while guaranteeing to the prospective purchaser that the public will pick up the tab if things go pear-shaped. PPP’s are businesses in which investment is subsidized, profits are privatised and losses are socialized. Show me one that has actually worked for the public – I defy you!

    By the way don’t fool yourselves into thinking we own anything here any more any way. Take a look at the top twenty shareholders in any of our top 500 companies and you will find 20%-50% of beneficial shareholding in the hands of three and sometimes four international banks through their nominee investment arms e.g.. JP Morgan Chase Nominees, HSBC Nominees, Citigroup Nominees and either NAB or ANZ (which are both effectively controlled by the preceding three). Where is the debate about who should own our resources? Newcrest Mining was owned two years ago by Australians but now, as potentially one of the largest precious metals producers around and with a threatening explosion in gold prices, it is beneficially controlled by the above investment groups leaving Australia and its people with minority shareholdings, peanut royalties and no control. This is happening across our entire resources base and it isn’t because of the Chinese. In turning Australia into a vast quarry for China and India at the expense of agriculture and manufacturing, Australia will be hollowed out just like America is being and we won’t even own the quarry. The owners of the quarry will be three or four international banks whom we are completely beholden to for our daily bread i.e. liquidity for our banking system which is driven by residential property prices. Why aren’t we debating this?

  26. Elan

    Because at the moment we are somewhat unimpressed with the latest, -discovered-,actions of our American ‘friends’.


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