Published on Wednesday, April 7, 2010 by TruthDig.com
Collateral Murder in
Two Reuters employees—a journalist and his driver—were killed in the attack, along with at least eight other people, and two children were injured. The radio transmissions show not only the utter callousness of the soldiers, laughing and swearing as they kill, but also the strict procedure they follow, ensuring that all of their attacks are clearly authorized by their chain of command. The leaked video is a grim depiction of how routine the killing of civilians has become, and is a stark reminder of how necessary journalism is, and how dangerous its practice has become.
After photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed, Reuters demanded a full investigation. Noor-Eldeen, despite his youth, had been described by colleagues as one of the pre-eminent war photographers in
The video shows a group of men in an open square in
“Have five to six individuals with AK-47s. Request permission to engage.”
“Roger that. Uh, we have no personnel east of our position. So, uh, you are free to engage. Over.”
The helicopter circles around, with the cross hairs squarely in the center of the group of about eight men. WikiLeaks and its partner for this story, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, added subtitles to the video, as well as arrows indicating the Reuters employees.
Sustained automatic-weapon fire erupts, and most of the men are killed instantly. Noor-Eldeen runs away, and the cross hairs follow him, shooting nonstop, until he falls, dead.
The radio transmission continues, “All right, hahaha, I hit ’em ...” and then, “Yeah, we got one guy crawling around down there. ...”
Chmagh, seriously wounded, was dragging himself away from the other bodies. A voice in the helicopter, seeking a rationale to shoot, said: “Come on, buddy. All you gotta do is pick up a weapon. ... If we see a weapon, we’re gonna engage.”
A van pulled up, and several men, clearly unarmed, came out and lifted Chmagh, ostensibly to carry him to medical care. The soldiers on the Apache sought and received permission to “engage” the van and opened fire, tearing apart the front of the van and killing the men. The weapon used was a 30-millimeter machine gun, used to pierce armor. With everyone in sight apparently dead,
WikiLeaks has broken numerous stories and has received awards. It and members of the Icelandic Parliament are working together to make Iceland a world center of investigative journalism, putting solid free speech and privacy protections into law. The words of legendary journalist I.F. Stone still hold true: “Governments lie.” Because of that, we need courageous journalists and media workers, like Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, and we need whistle-blowers and news organizations that will carefully protect whistle-blowers’ identities while bringing their exposés to public scrutiny.
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
© 2010 Amy Goodman
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 800 stations in
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/04/07-7
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs