Sickening. Incredibly sickening.
WikiLeaks has set up a site with video which appears to show the attack in 2007 in Iraq by USA military helicopters which killed several people including two employees of the Reuters news agency. From the reports I have seen the USA military is not disputing the authenticity of the video. In addition to the many dead adults two children were seriously injured. As is too often happens in cases such as this there was obfuscation and coverup by the government.
There is a lot of discussion on the blogs about if and to what extend some of the individuals may have been armed when the attack began. But consider what happened later. There is one individual still alive but wounded. A van pulls up and two individuals jump out to load this person into the van. They are clearly not a threat to the USA forces. They are loading the wounded individual into the van when the helicopter attacks the van. The van contained two children. The price of stopping to aid a wounded person in this case was the two persons giving aid as well as the wounded person were all killed. The two children were seriously wounded.
Many people have already commented on the videos; some blogs have been more widely read that others; a couple of blogs with interesting things to say:
Jacob Hornberger at FFF
Glenn Greenwald at Salon
I suggest everyone consider this episode seriously from as many different points of view as they can find that are well researched and reasoned. The Iraq fiasco started with lies and deception from Bush, Cheney and their cronies. It continued with torture and abuse in Abu Ghraib. Now we have this. And the common thread has been deception and obfuscation. Certainly not everything has been as bad as Abu Ghraib or the attack on the van. But there is also likely similar events that have not yet been reported. And it is quite possible that they never will be reported since deception and obfuscation appear to be the current method of operation.
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Let me note the most important thing here.
Horrible atrocities happen in a war, even an arguably justified one. (I don't argue this war is justified, bear me out for a moment.)
However, we rely on a well functioning system of justice to assure that these instances are minimized by punishing people for committing war crimes.
In the current instance, the Pentagon has been complicit in a wholesale coverup of the incident. In particular, they produced an investigation of the incident after Reuters made a stink that turned out, in the light of the leaked video, to be not merely positive spin but a whole cloth fabrication, claiming among other things that the US forces were actively attacked by "insurgents" (a lie), that the reporters "failed to identify themselves" to coalition forces (how they were supposed to do this in the fraction of a second between the moment that the helicopter began firing and the moment they were shot by automatic cannon we're not told), that the military had no idea how the children in the van were injured (a lie), that all the people shot other than the reporters and children were insurgents (upon minimal investigation by Icelandic reporters, a demonstrated lie), etc.
The government also claims that weapons were found with the bodies. There is no way to know for sure whether that is true, but I see no more reason to believe it than anything else that was claimed.
The fact that the military investigation was such a full-scale fabrication, and not merely an attempt at favorable spin leads one to worry both that many other crimes have been covered up and that many more will happen in the future because of the development of a culture of impunity within the military.
It is important that people spreading the word on this incident emphasize that regardless of how one interprets the incident in the tape, the coverup was both the cold blooded work of months and an invitation to more such incidents. It is clearly a crime in itself and worthy of the most vigorous possible prosecution.
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