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Collateral murder


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#1 Mahone

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 09:53 AM

WikiLeaks - look at the video under collateral murder. Make of it what you will. Personally I found some of the comments by military personnel pretty disgusting.

**Beware there are a couple of colourful words used** - there isn't really a lot I can do about that. You have been warned.

See another website regarding this here: Collateral Murder

Edited by Mahone, 07 April 2010 - 09:56 AM.


#2 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:21 AM

The attitudes expressed by the US forces are disturbing, but frankly are inevitable in wartime. I don't know if we can realistically expect our soldiers to not gloat over the killing of people they honestly believe to be bad guys, after they've spent the last five years getting shot at.

I wish Wikileaks had been more even-handed, though. Sending Iraqi civilians to an Iraqi hospital for treatment sounds pretty reasonable, and taking the kids back to base would have just given rise to accusations of "eliminating witnesses". And the latter half of the shortened video basically hints that because its editors, knowing what they were looking for, were able to identify kids inside a vehicle through highly magnified imagery after an undisclosed length of time spent in analysis; that the guys in the helicopter should have been able to do likewise immediately.

Ugh, all around.

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#3 rameumptom

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 12:48 PM

I just read a study, where they determined that those "innocent" people were walking with AK47s and RPGs in their group. WikiLeaks intentionally did not mention it, nor point them out, as they did the cameras. When you are being shot at, and you find a group of people that are carrying RPGs, you are going to automatically think that these people are part of the problem and need to be eliminated.

Isn't it amazing how video can be tainted? They show you what to look at, but expect you to ignore the man behind the curtain?

IOW, the military did their things. They admitted a couple of journalists were killed in the firefight. However, WikiLeaks is not being forthright with all the information, because they obviously have an agenda they wish to push.

Military: Brutal WikiLeaks video of shooting death of Reuters journalist in Iraq lacks context
:pope:

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#4 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 01:06 PM

Thanks, Rameumptom. Just came upon this, as well.

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#5 Mahone

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 03:32 PM

The attitudes expressed by the US forces are disturbing, but frankly are inevitable in wartime. I don't know if we can realistically expect our soldiers to not gloat over the killing of people they honestly believe to be bad guys, after they've spent the last five years getting shot at.


This is what I have issues with. Of course these things happen in war. I would expect soldiers to have the ability to desensitize themselves to what they have to do each day. But this team honestly seemed to find it fairly amusing, one of them laughed as they drove over one of the (presumably dead, but this was not confirmed) bodies (and they really didn't see the body before they drove over it?). They also laughed when they confirmed they had shot right through the windscreen. This should be something they have to do, not something they actually get some amusement out of doing. I just can't justify that in my own mind at all.

#6 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 04:18 PM

. . . one of them laughed as they drove over one of the (presumably dead, but this was not confirmed) bodies (and they really didn't see the body before they drove over it?).


Mahone, I agree with your sentiments, but let's keep this factual. Did the longer video have an audio feed from the guys in the tank? The short video, IIRC, only had audio from the helicopters several hundred yards away.

Painting American troops as demons who laugh as they drive tanks over dead bodies may be gratifying to certain individuals, but it's also horribly inaccurate.

Edited by Just_A_Guy, 07 April 2010 - 04:20 PM.

About half the practice of a decent lawyer consists in telling would-be clients that they are darned fools and should stop.
 

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#7 Mahone

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 04:59 PM

Mahone, I agree with your sentiments, but let's keep this factual. Did the longer video have an audio feed from the guys in the tank? The short video, IIRC, only had audio from the helicopters several hundred yards away.


Not that I could tell. I'm assuming some of the audio was from them, but at that particular point, no.

Painting American troops as demons who laugh as they drive tanks over dead bodies may be gratifying to certain individuals, but it's also horribly inaccurate.


That is inaccurate. However if you modify what you just said so it reads:

<snip> American troops as demons who laugh as their colleagues drive tanks over dead bodies <snip>


There is evidence to suggest that in this particular case, that is true.

#8 Wingnut

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 05:31 PM

I saw this video last summer, which is a different perspective. It's raw combat footage from an Apache.
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#9 Godless

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 08:56 PM

The video is taking forever to load, so I'm afraid I won't be watching it. I have some remarks based on what I've read so far though. Coping with the stress of a combat environment is tough. And yes, we as soldiers occasionally find humor in things that would make many people jump out of their skin. I've laughed after taking small arms fire and after having close encounters with roadside bombs. Panicking doesn't do you any good, so you might was well laugh about it (unless someone gets hurt, then the reaction is considerably different). Yes, we get desensitized to the horrors of war, and yes, it's a terrible thing. But that's what allows us to do our jobs without letting ourselves be hampered by stress and fear. Again, I haven't watched the video. It sounds like it has some anti-war bias. And based on what I've seen from pajamasmedia, I think it's a safe bet that JAG's link has some bias of its own (though it did seem to be the more reasonable of the two). This doesn't mean that there's no truth on either side, but it's important to distinguish truth from spin.

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 10:01 PM

"But this team honestly seemed to find it fairly amusing" Mahone Yes, that's the problem there. There will always be some situations in war that are criminal. For those cases there is military justice (as there is for the Navy Seals who went too far and will soon face a court martial in Iraq) but it doesn't mean that every soldier is a criminal. And there will from time to time also be these other cases where a court martial may not be warranted but its clear to (almost) everyone that its, at very minimum, immorally behavior. I certainly don't think that these situation will always be inevitable in wartime since most soldiers try to do the right thing.

#11 Traveler

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 10:06 PM

I have never known a person that has been in combat that was not affected by the experience. The human under such stress is capable of only one of two possibilities. Fight or flight. If they fight it becomes extremely vicious. If they turn and run they will suffer horrible guilt for those they left behind. In both cases there is guilt and anxiety afterwards.

We must understand that when we send someone into war – if they return they will never be the same and the change will not be for the good. This should not be laid at the feet of our service men but those that send them into war.

It is my belief that war is the last resort and when we come to the last resort we have no right to criticize those that must win the conflict to preserve our country. If the conflict is not worth unleashing the dogs of war then they should not be unleashed.

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#12 Moksha

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 10:19 PM


Again, I haven't watched the video. It sounds like it has some anti-war bias. This doesn't mean that there's no truth on either side, but it's important to distinguish truth from spin.


Good point, there is no reason to assume that these Apache cameras were acting in good faith. They could have been recording with a nefarious purpose in mind. Sort of filtering the world through their own lens.
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#13 Kawazu

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:33 PM

Hi guys,

I just thought I would add a little more detail to the discussion concerning the presence of AK-47s in the video. Apparently, they are fairly commonplace in Iraq:

From the Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2003 (no URL - print edition):

Surrounded By Chaos In Iraq, Middle Class Takes Up Arms

Alarmed by a sharp increase in street crime, professionals are joining those who are buying stolen weapons like there's no tomorrow.

By Laura King, Times Staff Writer

BAGHDAD - Hikmat, a retired Iraqi accountant, has a gentle, distracted, scholarly air. And a problem to resolve: Should he get himself a Kalashnikov assault rifle, or go with a Browning 9-millimeter pistol?

"I've pretty much settled on the Kalashnikov," said the balding 67-year-old, who has never owned a gun. "A pistol just isn't enough."

Alarmed by a sharp upsurge in street crime - brazen daylight robberies, continued looting and the relatively recent phenomenon of violent carjackings - Baghdad's professional class is rapidly arming itself, drawing on a vast pool of illicit weaponry that has flooded the capital since the fall of Saddam Hussein and his regime.

Hikmat, who did not want his full name made public, said he doesn't like the idea of having a gun in his home but feels he has to be able to defend himself and his family against the city's plague of thieves.

Like half a dozen newly gun-owning members of the middle class interviewed in recent days - doctors, lawyers, architects and professors - Hikmat expressed feelings of guilt over contributing to the climate of lawlessness by buying what was undoubtedly a stolen weapon.

But he said he doesn't believe that either the recently reassembled Iraqi police force or U.S. troops can provide citizens with any sense of security.

"When that day comes, I will throw out my Kalashnikov," he said. "But not until then."

The nervous well-to-do are not the only ones purchasing guns in this country where the streets, at least, were safe under Hussein. Ad hoc militias, criminal gangs, ethnic Kurds and rural tribesman also are all on a weapons-buying binge - a development that is worrying to the U.S. forces that are trying to restore some semblance of order in both the capital and the countryside.

Thriving weapons bazaars have sprung up all over Baghdad, ranging from small, surreptitious knots of dealers operating out of their cars to sprawling, semipermanent markets where the gun merchants helpfully organize themselves by specialty, price range and degree of firepower. Just about everything is on offer, from scope-fitted sniper rifles to rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

No one has tried to publicly estimate the number of light weapons and handguns that have made their way onto the open market - other than to say that the quantity is enormous, even for a country with an established gun culture.

Weapons stocks at abandoned Iraqi military bases, together with formidable arsenals at neighborhood and district headquarters of Hussein's Baath Party, were picked clean by looters in the days after U.S. troops moved into Baghdad. And that doesn't even include the weapons the Baath Party handed out to residents before the war for their country's defense. Many of these guns are up for grabs.

"This whole country was an armed camp," Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. ground forces in Iraq, told reporters last week. "There were weapons and ammunition storage sites everywhere in Iraq."

U.S. troops policing the capital have made weapons seizures a high priority, but it is a Sisyphean task.

A gun dealer who gave his name as Ali, with close-cropped hair and a cigarette drooping from his lips, was doing a brisk business on a recent day in central Baghdad out of the trunk of his beat-up Datsun. Around him, other vendors leaned merchandise against their cars or used old refrigerators as display cases.

"It's very easy to hide - we see the tanks and Humvees coming, and we do this," he said, closing his trunk as he spotted a small contingent of U.S. troops approaching. "You just have to stay calm and not panic. If you run, they'll catch you."

A gun-market customer, 27-year-old Amer Janabi, said U.S. troops had confiscated his pistol a few days earlier after seeing it stuck in his waistband.

"No problem," he said, fanning out half a dozen $100 bills. "I'm going to buy another. Maybe two."

In the first weeks after the major combat ended, gun prices fluctuated because the sellers, some of them only teenagers, didn't know what they could charge for their wares. The price of a Kalashnikov dipped to as low as $20 before stabilizing at between $50 and $100, depending on its condition, dealers said.

Bullets can be had for as little as a penny apiece.

Although the sheer volume of weaponry for sale these days may be unprecedented, Iraqis are no strangers to gun ownership, particularly in the countryside.

"Guns have been a part of the culture for a long, long time," said Johan Sohlberg of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who is a regional advisor on land-mine clearance. "That didn't begin with the war, and it won't end with it."

During the Hussein years, it wasn't difficult to obtain a gun license, even without any connection to the ruling elite. As privations caused by a dozen years of economic sanctions took hold, the main obstacle for most would-be buyers was the price - about $150 for the license alone.

Licensed dealers, whose prices are generally higher than in the cutthroat milieu of the bazaars, are now feeling pinched by their illicit competition - and are wondering whether they will be able to continue to operate once an interim Iraqi government is in place.

They also grumble that the U.S. authorities seem to have trouble distinguishing between legitimate businesses and the bazaars that deal in stolen weapons.

"Some of them came here, and I showed them all the papers to show that my guns are not stolen, but they didn't have anyone with them who could read the documents," said gun merchant Eymad Chalabi, who has done business for five years out of the same downtown storefront.

"I was afraid they were going to confiscate everything, but in the end they brought someone who could explain to them that I could show proof of purchase on all my stock."

One byproduct of Hussein's feared security apparatus was that street crime was almost unheard of. Now, many Baghdad residents talk of little but their newfound sense of insecurity.

Widow Rose Razafian, 70, whose husband was a bank executive, lives in a well-appointed house shaded by palm trees.

She has hired an armed watchman and keeps a generator roaring away all night to keep the outside lights on and deter thieves.

Before she goes to shop for bread for breakfast, she takes off her jewelry and then carries only the $2 or $3 she intends to spend.

"We never felt this way before. There is no one in charge, no government," she said. "You hear gunfire all night long, there are looters everywhere you turn - it makes us frightened."

Even some of those doing well in the nascent weapons economy are taken aback by the degree of violence associated with it. Ali, the car-trunk gun dealer, named several weapons bazaars in poorer districts of the capital that he said he would be afraid to frequent, either as a seller or a buyer.

"Even we don't dare to go to some of these places," he said.

In some quarters, U.S. efforts to crack down on gun merchants are meeting with solid approval. Rafid Soudani, a 34-year-old father of three, looked on approvingly as U.S. troops from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment arrested a gun dealer who had been doing business on his doorstep.

"How can I raise a family here?" Soudani said. "It went on at all hours of the night, people buying guns and then firing them off to show they work. Crazy. Crazy."

But the soldiers acknowledged that they could contain only a fraction of the illegal trade.

"We just can't keep up with it," 1st Lt. Travis Shain of Killeen, Texas, said as two Iraqis were cuffed with plastic ties and loaded into a Humvee in the wake of the U.S. raid.

Some Iraqis were determined to take the long view, even while acknowledging a sense of fear and uncertainty.

"Change is good for us, for every Iraqi," said Abdul Kamal Din, a
mathematics professor who keeps a rifle in the house. "But our future still isn't clear. And it can't be, because there's no feeling of safety."


I can't say I have read very much information to have about the RPG is, however. This is all very troubling...

Just speaking in general terms about post-Saddam Iraq, this video was informative, to me:

YouTube - Talk to an Iraqi - This American Life - Showtime: PART 1/2
YouTube - Talk to an Iraqi - This American Life - Showtime: PART 2/2
Occasional colorful language warning.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Have a great day.

Sincerely,
Kawazu

Edited by Kawazu, 07 April 2010 - 11:37 PM.

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#14 Intrigued

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Posted 07 April 2010 - 11:43 PM

Better safe than sorry imo. It's tragic that people have to die over a senseless 'war' that has more to do with asserting ourselves and profit than it does with freedom.. but our soldiers certainly are not the ones at fault (usually).

Tragic that they were supposedly innocents and it's horrible that the daughter was killed.. but I understand where the soldiers priorities are..

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#15 Godless

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 05:33 AM

Hi guys,

I just thought I would add a little more detail to the discussion concerning the presence of AK-47s in the video. Apparently, they are fairly commonplace in Iraq:


I can't say I have read very much information to have about the RPG is, however. This is all very troubling...


That is absolutely correct. You see AKs everywhere over there, and we're told not to do anything about it unless they're pointed at us. RPGs are a different matter. Unless things have changed, I believe soldiers are still authorized to arrest or engage anyone carrying an RPG.

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#16 rameumptom

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 06:04 AM

Video doesn't lie, but the interpretation of video can be deceiving. The way this video was played, showing the cameras, but intentionally not showing the RPGs and AK47s at play, is irresponsible journalism. Or as we called it back in the day, Yellow Journalism. We don't have to agree with the war (I don't), but in this case the soldiers are being maligned. As for the laughing, that would be the helicopter pilots. War is brutal. Anyone who watched the TV series MASH knows that in war one of the common coping mechanisms is to use laughter and sarcasm. If you don't, you would go crazy.
:pope:

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#17 NeuroTypical

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 08:49 AM

This should be something they have to do, not something they actually get some amusement out of doing. I just can't justify that in my own mind at all.

I know a handful of people I respect immensely who have been in combat and seen and caused death. They are stalwarts, righteous and honorable people. They come from diverse backgrounds, but they are unanimous in two opinions:
1- Killing is a horrible thing that traumatizes the killer in various ways.
2- Unless you've experienced a taste of what it's like, you have no basis from which to judge those who have.

The brain reacts to traumatic events in diverse ways. Inappropriate laughter is one way. Distancing onesself from the tragedy is another. Often, folks will need a little guidance and help in order to find the good coping mechanisms and avoid the bad ones. I'm buddies with a vietnam vet who still suffers from PTSD symptoms over what he experienced and did. Such things can change you and leave permanent scars.

Instead of sitting in our safe chairs surrounded by freedom and liberty and unrighteously judging these soldier's reactions from our position of ignorance, maybe we should take a moment and thank them for being willing to risk life, limb, and mental health in our country's service.

LM
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#18 gabelpa

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:15 AM

For me, it was the attempted cover-up that was the worst part of this all.

#19 Just_A_Guy

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:26 AM

What, precisely, was covered up? AFAIK, the military's position was that it was attacking belligerents (which it apparently was), that civilians were caught in the crossfire (which they were), and that the rules of engagement and laws of war, such as they are, were followed (and I've yet to see a compelling case to the contrary).

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#20 talisyn

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Posted 08 April 2010 - 09:50 AM

What bothers me is reportedly the military lost their footage of what happened. How???

I have multiple family who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. I hate seeing in them what Mormon saw with his own troops- a casualness, a hardness that develops to protect the softer emotions in most people. I don't know how we'd prevent more 'mistakes' from happening. Some of our soldiers have been over there 4 out of 7 years! That's way too long. We need to get this Iraq/Afghanistan problem solved before we get more people like the helicopter pilots, and more 'lost' footage.

I found this page while randomly looking around the Internet. I hope y'all find it interesting, too Joan Smith: Now we see what war does to those who wage it - Joan Smith, Commentators - The Independent

Edited by talisyn, 08 April 2010 - 10:08 AM.





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