Captain Jack Hanzlik a spokesman for the U.S. Central Command says that the military has not been able to locate the video of alleged indiscriminate killing in Baghdad in 2007 within its files after being asked to authenticate the version that is available online after being release through WikiLeaks.
Capt. Hanslik said” We had no reason to hold the video at Central Command, nor did the higher headquarters in Iraq. We’re attempting to retrieve the video from the unit who did the investigation.”
Following the internet leak of the graphic Iraq shooting from a US Apache helicopter, during which more than a dozen people and possibly 2 Reuters employees were gunned down there have been several questions raised about the rules of engagement, the behavior of U.S. soldiers and the safety of journalists covering the war.
Many advocates for government transparency are questioning why the military did not release this video to the public back in 2007 when Reuters requested a copy through the Freedom of Information Act. There was an investigation into the incident, the result of which was that the troops had acted appropriately even though they had mistakenly thought that camera equipment was weaponry.
The audio of the video includes US soldiers calling to “light ‘em up!” and referring to the victims as “dead bastards”. While this is unflattering to the military an expert on government secrecy with the Federation of American Scientists, Steven Aftergood says “that is not justification for withholding it.”
There have been reports of the July 12, 2007 attack before, but when WikiLeaks posted the video on the collateralmurder.com site citizens were finally able to see what really happened and watchdog groups began calling for verification of the video. This gritty footage renews questions about the attack and has led to many to claim that U.S. soldiers are playing a video game with human lives, and shooting indiscriminately. Military officials said that they do believe the video is authentic, but needed to compare the images and audio with their own copy before making an official confirmation. Yet for some reason the military cannot locate its copy of the video. For nearly 3 years there have been requests in place to locate and release this video.
When asked today why the military did not release the video when the other documents pertaining to the investigation of the incident were made public, officials claimed that they were still looking for it and were not sure where it was.
The video was taken by the tactical unit operating the Apache helicopters which has been identified only as a 1st Air Cavalry Brigade reporting to the Multinational Division in Baghdad. Clearly providing everyone with a firsthand knowledge of what happened that day in Baghdad and how so many people ended up dead this video if verified will enlighten many to the actual activities that take place in a war zone, when cameras are mistaken for weapons and civilians are mingling with insurgents.