A video released on Monday April 5, 2010 through WikiLeaks has drawn the attention of Americans, government officials and the military. This gritty war video from July 12, 2007 shows U.S. forces repeatedly firing on people along a Baghdad street in what appears to be the indiscriminate slaying of over a dozen people. A senior U.S. Military official said that this video is authentic; however the Pentagon will not confirm the authenticity.
The day the video was shot is also the same day and apparently in the same area where a Reuter’s photographer and his driver were killed, and two children wounded. The Military official said he cannot confirm the identities of the Reuters employees in the film, which was shot from an Apache helicopter at the scene.
The U.S. military headquarters in Iraq has released the following information concerning this video:
“At this time, we are working to verify the source of the video, its veracity and when or where it was recorded.”
At the time the shooting occurred an investigation determined that the crews of the two Apache helicopters may have mistakenly identified photographers’ cameras as weapons NBC News Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski has reported. In a summary of the investigation released July 19, U.S. troops were declared to have acted appropriately. The document states that the Reuters employees were likely “intermixed among the insurgents” making them difficult to distinguish because of their equipment.
Based upon reports from U.S. officials the helicopter crews arrived to find several men approaching the area of a battle with what appeared to be AK-47s over their shoulders and a rocket propelled grenade. It was only later determined that the Ak-47s and the RPG were nothing more than long range lenses and cameras.
WikiLeaks claims to have obtained the video “as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers.” They have released both the 38 minute original video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Both versions of this video have subtitles added from radio transmissions.
Reuters said Monday that it could not verify either whether the video was of its employees dying despite the camera slung over the shoulder of one of the men killed. But that the video is “graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result.” Says David Schlesinger, editor-in-chief- of Reuter’s news.
The video “shows the debasement and moral corruption of soldiers as a result of war. It seems like they are playing video games with people’s lives” according to Julian Assange a WikiLeaks spokesman. This comment is in response to the subtitled audio portion of the video where soldiers are discussing the events as they unfold.
Soldiers are heard asking for permission to engage and one says “Light ‘em all up”, then other comments following the shooting include “Ah yeah, look at those dead bastards. Nice” and “Well it’s their fault bringing their kids into the battle.”
This video has just come to light although Reuters has been trying to obtain access to it through the Freedom of Information Act since the time of the attack.