Smear campaign, entitled "Collateral Murder"
WikiLeaks’ Theories Are Full of Holes
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On April 5, 2010, a video was released by WikiLeaks which they allege shows US Army aviation units indiscriminately murdering over a dozen innocent Iraqis, including an Iraqi stringer and his driver who were employed by Reuters. Their smear campaign, entitled “Collateral Murder” is a biased hit piece lacking any evidence whatsoever.
A detailed examination of the entire 40-minute video, including the blatantly biased analysis and commentary by WikiLeaks betrays a woeful lack of knowledge of military aviation. The video also clearly shows that despite the opinions of Code Pink and the Europeans who run this website, the pilot and gunner of the Apache element known as Crazy Horse did nothing wrong and in fact acted within the Laws of Armed Conflict and their Rules of Engagement when they opened fire on hostile Iraqis.
The Apache pilots, who were flying close air support for several ground elements were responding to calls for help by soldiers on the ground who had taken small arms fire. The video, which was taken from the gun camera of the attack helicopter shows three separate engagements in 39 minutes.
In the first engagement, the two Reuters stringers were walking in the vicinity of a group of men that WikiLeaks characterized as “innocent civilians”. Thanks to Fox News’ enhanced video complete with spot shadow, at least two of these men were shown to be carrying weapons. At 2:42 into the video, you can see one of the targets crouching behind a building with what appears to be a weapon, possibly an RPG. At 2:49, ground elements confirmed the guy was shooting. After coming around for a clearer shot and having obtained permission to fire, the pilots engaged the large group of men that had been gathering, including the two Reuters stringers, who were also were killed.
In the second engagement, which comes at 8:35, the pilots killed several individuals who showed up in a black van to retrieve the weapons and bodies of the Iraqis killed in the first engagement, a favorite tactic of al Qaeda to distort body counts or booby-trap the bodies for later attacks. Two children who had been riding in the van were also wounded.
In the final engagement, Crazy Horse followed and engaged about half a dozen individuals who were clearly armed and had entered a building, firing three Hellfire missiles, which destroyed the building.
As unfortunate as this entire incident was, what it showed was not indiscriminate murder, but a textbook close air support operation. There were clearly men with weapons who had engaged ground forces and it appears the two stringers were either in contact with, or breaking contact with those men when the Apache’s chain gun opened up.
WikiLeaks never disputed the fact that ground units requested close air support. Their transcript of the radio chatter was riddled with errors. Many words they transcribed were unintelligible and therefore, assumed. Their commentary was riddled with bias:
“Some of the people killed were journalists that were simply doing their jobs: putting their lives at risk in order to report on war. Iraq is a very dangerous place for journalists: from 2003- 2009, 139 journalists were killed while doing their work.”
Iraq is dangerous and these men knew that. The key phrase is “putting their lives at risk”. This risk is compounded when you cavort with the enemy.
They also claimed that Reuters “demanded an investigation”. They did not say that the military complied with those demands and investigated, only that the military “concluded” the pilots had done nothing wrong, a blatant bias of omission and an attempt to portray the military as obstructing. Their overview of the incident was even more preposterous:
“The video from a helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.”
Men with weapons, firing on US soldiers provoked that response. And, what the hell were his “rescuers” doing arriving at the site of a military engagement in an unmarked, black vehicle with two children, also called “rescuers” by WikiLeaks?
When you strip away all of the emotion, this was an entirely normal military engagement. Many of these people were confirmed to have weapons and our ground forces reported taking fire from that vicinity. Any innocent deaths are the unfortunate result of people being in the wrong place at the wrong time or bringing their kids along for a ride in a war zone.
So what we’re left with is zero evidence to support charges of murder, but a bunch of anti-war activists are still trying to frame US combat pilots because they object to their language or the “relaxed” way in which these professionals engaged their targets. Any sane person would be comforted to know that the pilots charged with protecting our ground forces aren’t a bunch of stressed-out, trigger-happy maniacs, but this drives the committed, anti-war leftists like Medea Benjamin nuts. It just goes to show you how truly sick these people are.