Leaked Video of US Troops Firing on Civilians in Iraq Raises Questions

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A non-profit website called WikiLeaks has released footage of an incident in Iraq from July, 2007 that shows the death of two employees of Reuters News Agency at the hands of American troops. 

Because the men worked for Reuters, their deaths were no secret, but the circumstances had remained so until WikiLeaks released their footage. The Pentagon maintained that the two men were killed during a firefight between insurgents and U.S. forces who hovered above in an Apache helicopter, but the video shows something different. The Americans, believing they have spotted insurgents, stalk the two Reuters employees from the air before firing on and killing them. That mistake, and a callous reaction to the injury of two children, also caught on the same video, has sparked debate about whether the Americans were justified - or out of control.

For more, we're joined by BBC Baghdad correspondent Jim Muir and Josh Ray Person, who was in the Marines from 1999-2003, serving both in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Below, the video, as captured by a gun-sight camera from the Apache helicopter which fired on the group of men. WARNING: THE VIDEO SHOWS GRAPHIC VIOLENCE.


Jim Muir and Josh Ray Person

Produced by:

Noel King

Comments [14]


This was not 'raw' footage. It has obviously been edited. Look at the scene of the car with the two white spots in the front right window. You know that those are two kids because 1) the narrator tells you they are and 2) the video is shown again enlarged which is not a luxury the AH pilot/gunner had. I didn't see an AK or an RPG. What I did see was several men with black straps that look like rifle slings and one man with what looks like an unloaded RPG or a U.S. AT-4 Light Anti-tank Weapon checking the street. Now, if you have an enlarged view or the time to go back over the video (probably not something that could be done on the helicopter?) and you have been told by the narrator what the men are carrying you can tell one of the men has a camera with a very large lens. As for the man on the phone, a cell phone hooked to an IED is the SOP now to set off the weapon. Calling on a cell phone is what someone setting an IED off would do Yes, the chopper crews sound a bit "blood thirst" but all pilots tend to be aggressive. It keeps them alive. Propaganda.

May. 08 2010 09:35 PM
Jo from NYC

This was a sad course of events and feel empathy for the families, that have lost loved ones. However I do understand, that the soldiers are in a war zone. They are trained to kill and trained to make judgments w/o investigating.

If this is going to be shown, then everything should be shown as well.
Before we make judgments without anything to base it on.

Apr. 08 2010 03:24 PM
Bill from Oklahoma

It is said that war is a break down of all humanity. This clip provides irrefutable evidence of this principal.

Apr. 08 2010 01:52 PM
Carolyn Dalbow from Kingfisher, OK

Every war related death is a tragedy which causes grief beyond what words can express. At some point we must accept the fact that war involves risk, sacrafice and killing that results from soldiers doing their job. Invading Afghanistan was unavoidable, invading Iraq was; yet 8 years of war cost us more than the dollars it has consumed. I would say that PEACE would be a better investment for our future.

Apr. 08 2010 12:05 PM
Matt Caruso from Salem MA

You really can't make a judgment by looking at one isolated video. You need context and you need to understand all that took place leading up to and even after this event. Read the Newsweek article called "The Moral Weight of War-
Marines deserve to know the truth."


The article interviews a soldier who not only journaled his experiences, but documented it all on video. He in fact made a documentary with his films and it truly gives you a broader perspective, not just a snapshot in time.

Apr. 08 2010 09:42 AM
Mark smith from Jersey City, NJ

I have no problem with Wiki leaks. If we all believe that everything the US Armed forces are doing in a battle is above reproach we would be incredibly stupid. If you look around- Live leak and other sites-what you will learn is that we're making "war at a distance". This is where people in helicopter gunships or remote piloting drones, looking at black and white infrared images taken from above are acting as judge, jury and executioner for insurgents and innocents alike on the ground. Its tragic that a group of innocent people got murdered by some gung ho attack helicopter pilots, but I'll tell you its the tip of the iceberg. Situations like this have repeatedly happened in Iraq and Afghanistan and this particular incident is just one that got out. Equally tragic is the 'war at a distance" model where people peering through scopes from a distance make decisions *thinking* they know what is happening on the ground below them which results in the death of innocent people, when they don't really have a clue.

Apr. 07 2010 08:50 PM
Chuck Thompson

Tragic and uncomfortable to watch. And the language was unprofessional but soldiers talk this way and worse. I'm not excusing the mistakes but context has been left out of this story. There actually were armed men in the group and the camerman on the corner could easily have been mistaken for a person aiming a weapon. This incident occurred during a time when there was ongoing fighting between US troops and combatants. The investigating report reveals nearby (300 meters away) ground forces were taking fire at that time (if you listen carefully, the radio reports from forces on the ground confirm this). Weapons, including RPGs were recovered at the scene.

Apr. 07 2010 03:44 PM
Adriana from Brooklyn NY

this is too sad, all are losers, the human being are the main losers, what is the point of evolution?
how can Bush and Cheney sleep after they created that mess??

Apr. 07 2010 02:11 PM
Andrea T. from Oklahoma City, OK

If people want a complete, uncensored view of the war they are welcome to that - all they need to do is enlist or receive a commission in the US Military. For people to view a 17 minute clip of a battle without considering it within its larger context is irresponsible. It is also not fair to judge people based on this clip without having ever been in that situation. I have seen the video and my heart goes out to every single person that suffered on that day and all the days within this war. The Iraqis and Americans alike were traumatized within that moment. War is hell, and there is not a single person involved that does not suffer from these actions.

Apr. 07 2010 11:11 AM
Maurice from Westchester NY

I agree that we need to be constantly made aware of the hell that war is. The mistake is placing exagerated focus on one particular event and the blame a small handful of combatants may or may not have. The overarching, hugely more important issue is why are we there in the first place, is our involvment there justified and if not where is the media outcry for accountability on that issue?

Apr. 07 2010 10:25 AM
Mauro from Miami

Yesterday on NPR this same topic was discussed and the guest agreed that the journalists were there and that they were considered armed because of the straps on their shoulders, but it was also said that at least one RPG was found on one of the casualties and it is shown (but not highlighted) in the video that another of the victims did have an AK-47. Watchdogs are necessary, but they must also be impartial, this video is showing this situation from a very biased viewpoint, all of the editing and the intro are geared towards showing all involved as innocent victims, which is not the complete truth and we have to be fair if we are going to critique.

Apr. 07 2010 09:23 AM
Paul Guay from Boston

The media is as important a part of democracy as any other "branch". I am pleased to see site like wikileaks taking the watchdog role; something many feared would be missing, as the major investagative units in conventional media loose funding. This video gives us a raw example of war; something the public should understand. We are too quick to use military action, which is supposed to be a last resort. If Americans really understood the nature of war, its faults, effects, and brutallity, we might be more likely to use every diplomatic means at our disposal before military conflict. The majority of our veterans were against going into Iraq. Now we have some understanding as to why.

Apr. 07 2010 07:54 AM
Peg from Finger Lakes NY

When it's the tax payers money at work, we should see it - good or bad.

Apr. 07 2010 07:09 AM
Mike from NJ

If this is a democracy we not only have to right to see this war video but a responsibility. If we are going to send Americans into war we need to know what war is and it's ramifications.

Apr. 07 2010 07:04 AM

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