Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldiers Killing Civilians in Cold Blood

At the same time that we read of another recent cover up by U.S. forces in Afghanistan, involving the murder of pregnant women (and then mutilating their bodies with knives to remove the bullets), Wikileaks releases this shocking video of a U.S. massacre in Iraq from July 2007. Listen to the pleasure which the killers take in doing their “job”, the rash decisions, the lack of “precision” of which the criminals boast so often, the headlong rush and expressed urge to start killing as quickly as possible (rather than taking time to prevent unnecessary civilian casualties). The result? Dead journalists and wounded girls.

The second, extended version of the video, shows hellfire missiles being fired at civilians, for example one who is unarmed and merely walking in the street. There is no evidence of any precautions taken not to kill civilians, as required by international law. These are not the actions of a mere minority: this is a repeated pattern of indiscriminate killing as testified in the accounts of returning vets, especially those who spoke out at Winter Soldier 2008 (see here also).

For more, see Collateral Murder on Wikileaks.

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30 thoughts on “Collateral Murder: U.S. Soldiers Killing Civilians in Cold Blood

    1. James

      Wellcome to the hell that is our world.I am willing to bet blood that this is the sort of travesty that occours on a daily basis in every nation invaded by armed forces.You would have to be beyond naieve to think that this incident was the exception to the rule ! This is what war brings to humanity;this is why we must learn that those who call for war,espeacialy preimtive war,. intend only evil.

      Warfare will never bring peace,nor freedom,only the most faithfull diplomacy can bring such good things to humanity.A peace won by war is only a lull untill the next conflict,”freedom ”fought for,paid for with blood is hardly freedom ! It has been said that truth is the first casualty of war;remember that we are set free only by the truth,thus it is a falsehood that freedom can come from war !

      The most disturbing aspect concerning the events I have wittnessed,is the fact that I personaly have allowed the fear of reprisal and ridicule from my fellow Americans prevent me from speaking up publicaly and demanding that these military invasions be curtailed.I deserve to suffer the same retribution that even the most blood thirsty sociopath with a gun is due,for I know the truth and yet have allowed myself to rest,even recreate while innocent human beings are slaughtered in my name !

  1. BTEasterly

    Weird. This piece is getting diggs by readers but no comments. So I’ll break the ice. I clicked the links you have and read more and, yeah, this is not an isolated case. It doesn’t even appear to be the worst that was done. We just happen to have a video for this one. It’s shocking. I am totally disgusted. We turned their whole countries into war zones and butchered their people. If this doesn’t come back and bite us on the ass big time, that’ll be even more shocking.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      They are possibly doing some damage control to their momentarily tarnished sense of superiority and patriotism. They may also be avoiding the subject, or do not want to state the obvious, or find themselves locking horns with others elsewhere. I myself have commented on other blogs rather than this one.

      The curious feature, in terms of this blog, is that this post elicited no end of complaint –>, including from vets…while the videos from Wikileaks which show actual killing receive absolute silence (until you posted, and thanks again for your visit). I found it quite funny how hopeful and charmed the “liberal” (right wing, middle class) onlookers were when they thought I was achieving a common understanding with soldiers posting their alibis here.

      I imagine they assume that there will be no such luck this time. They’re right.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        I forgot: the other post which got all sorts of complaints, not to mention lots of mud thrown around on other sites, was this one:

        We Are Protecting Afghan Civilians…from Ourselves

        As I remained undaunted by the flock of turd troopers and patriotic pricks, I continued:

        Afghan Vignette 3: Protecting Civilians, Winning Hearts and Minds

        Speaking of turd troopers, you can watch how a Pentagon officer came to the defense of this howling abuse of Iraqi police trainees by an American soldier, who if anything was clearly inciting them to engage in sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing:

        The Teacher is Not Your Friend: An American Teaches Iraqi Police About Loyalty to Iraq

  2. Pingback: Time Travelling Pit Stops #1 « time travelling

  3. Donald S.

    Thanks BTEasterly for breaking the ice. I normally don’t like commenting on blogs, except for this one, either because they don’t interest me or there are too many comments and thus posting another seems pointless.

    Max, I am not convinced. I am not convinced that there is pure “pleasure” in killing in evidence here. These folks might be using a mechanism to deal with the routine, enforced brutality that trained them and that they have to impose. It sounds more like they’re trying to mutually reassure each other that their actions are normal and good, because they know otherwise. This did not sound to me like the euphoria shown by warriors in battle, cheering as they give back a good pounding to an awesome enemy.
    The full version is the one I watched and I think – I guess – why the Pentagon didn’t want this leaked. It’s not because of any “pleasure in killing” issue. IMHO it has to do with the incompetence and the time spent/wasted lining up those shots for the hellfire missiles. Did you see that? You can take notes on the time it takes to set up a shot; you can see how awkward the system is; and the mistakes that happen. This was nothing like the smooth, fast, automatic firing process that I pictured. From a tactical point of view, it’s useful. Also, it shows how just ducking behind walls can really frustrate helicopters when you’d think they can see all and there is no hiding from them or no defense against them in an open urban setting.

  4. JG

    Max, thanks for adding this story to zeroanthropology. The MSNBC coverage of this is absurd, but I’m sure that I don’t need to comment on the impotent role of news media, particularly American news media, in the ‘discussion’ of ongoing wars launched by the US. I would like to add a couple comments to the short list already here.

    To start with, I concur with Donald S that it is probably incorrect to describe these soldiers’ actions as primarily ‘pleasurable’ to them (though, I honestly cannot find where you used that word). There are two problems with casting this kind of slaughter in such light: one, doing so obscures something more horrible-namely, an outlook amongst many soldiers that views killing as a kind of custodial activity; and two, it plays into the kind of theater that typifies political action in the US, one in which liberal society (whatever that means) is sated by the excision of ‘villains’ from what is seen as an otherwise workable system. I recall umpteen Hollywood films about government corruption, in which ‘rogue’ officials or agents perpetrate heinous acts, only to be deposed by the overall greatness of American values.

    The fact is that this kind of thing happens all of the time. Of course it does, and not because of the ‘fog of war’ but because of a whole range of pathologies/mythologies that dominate American political and/or cultural dialogue. Being an American myself, I have a good number of friends and acquaintances that served time in the armed forces, and any of these guys (they are all men) that have spent time in actually combat have stories that rival the above footage in terms of amorality. One of these men, a former Marine Recon sniper, has told me that he has shot a number of children, all armed, because “that was [his] job.” The guy may or may not harbor some hidden remorse, but as in the case of the helicopter crew, his social expression is almost identical to that of anyone having successfully carried out their job. Indeed, the disdain for human life expressed by the crew recalls more the disdain expressed by a janitor for an especially dirty restroom, and their mutual congratulations seemed like an office team that had made a deadline, with some uncertainty as to the quality of their work.

    Now, I don’t put any stock in ‘rules of engagement’, which seem to me to be PR fodder at its best, and at worst, a mechanism for scapegoating soldiers when the heat is turned up on command or the White House. This is exactly what’s going on in the MSNBC story. After the military acted to suppress, its apologists now trot out this ‘bad apples’ routine: “oh boo hoo, after all of our hard work to provide security to the Iraqi people (who, with the clear intent to destroy infrastructure, we bombed for twelve years before invading…keep that on the down-low would you?), a few rotten apples are spoiling our barrel! We’re outraged, really!.”

    Finally, to my (admittedly underinformed) mind, carrying a weapon in Baghdad is equivalent to wearing a raincoat in the pacific northwest, and the fact that soldiers are allowed to subject random armed (and unarmed!!) persons to the death penalty is both a naked immorality and nauseatingly hypocritical.

    In this case and many others, and without offering up any attempt to initiate combat or fight back, human beings were slaughtered. I don’t expect anything to change policy, or even cause the average American to start empathizing with anyone than themselves, but it sure would be nice if someone could just say “this is horrible, this is totally horrific and an affront to all that is good in humanity, and we are sorry” without then qualifying it.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      Thanks to you both Donald S and JG for your great commentaries.

      I think Donald is reacting to my line at the top of the post, “Listen to the pleasure which the killers take in doing their ‘job’,” which in hindsight seems far too flat, and am very grateful for the comments both of you have posted here.

      This part of your commentary, JG, really struck me as the perfect way to express the routine, taken-for-granted, banal violence:

      “Indeed, the disdain for human life expressed by the crew recalls more the disdain expressed by a janitor for an especially dirty restroom, and their mutual congratulations seemed like an office team that had made a deadline, with some uncertainty as to the quality of their work.”

      In addition to what you say at the end of your post, I would very much like to hear from these pilots and gunners. They are in the spotlight, and unless their courage fails them whenever they exit the helicopter, and unless their sense of fearlessness is tied to a 30mm cannon, I cannot see the harm in their stepping up and giving an account of their actions and statements. It would seem to be the honorable thing to do, not so? It would also allow them to prevent us from doing all their speaking for them.

      In the meantime, we have your great comments, “killing as custodial activity,” and “killing as theater.”

      Many thanks.

  5. Left Unity

    This video affords another lamentable opportunity to reflect on the inherent ambiguities and tensions of releasing and circulating such materials. Their visceral impact and evidential status have to be carefully weighed up against the potential dangers of a retreat into what has been called the ‘pornography of horror’. Needless to say, a ghoulish interest in such material does not equate to political engagement, but neither does a blind unwillingness to engage with the brutal realities of armed conflict in general and the Iraq War in particular.

    However, what seems particularly chilling about this video is not the sheer visceral horror of the images or even the simple fact of the massacre (one need not be a conspiracy theorist to accept that this is probably the tip of the iceberg), but rather the details, revealed as much through the transcribed commentary as through the unflinching visuals. Two aspects in particular stand out as especially disturbing. The first is the realization that behind the unthinking bigotry and bravado of the pilots’ interactions, there lies a paranoid fantasia that conjures RPGs out of camera bags and security threats out of collective behavior. Through such a filter, all strikes are pre-emptive, potential threats are everywhere and lives are extinguished at the touch of a button. What is truly frightening here is not simply the sheer fact of death, but the cold weighing up of life and death in one arbitrary instant of human decision-making. This is the stuff of Philip K. Dick’s nightmares, and it is not a surprise that such an approach is neither surgically accurate – as if often claimed – nor effective in eradicating the immediate threat of insurgency or the future tide of recruitment.

    The second striking aspect of the video is how this callous disregard for human life is further enabled by careful physical and psychological training, offensively clinical euphemisms (‘engaging the target’, ‘collateral damage’, etc.) and a heavily technologically mediated style of warfare. This latter point is nothing new in itself, of course; such technological mediation has always been part of warfare in some shape or form. However, since the First World War, it has acquired an energetic dynamism that, to put it bluntly, makes killing easier in both practical and psychological terms. Whatever else American soldiers might be, for the most part they are not psychopaths, and thus an extra layer of de-humanizing, de-individualizing mediation is required in order to kill with such abandon. One can’t help thinking here of Harry Lime’s (Orson Welles’) famous Ferris Wheel speech in The Third Man in which he looks down on the mass of humans below and asks whether or not we would really feel pity or concern if one of those ‘dots’ stopped moving. Warfare on this scale is simply not the same as hand to hand combat. Indeed, in this light, it is interesting to note that WikiLeaks have made an attempt to juxtapose the cold, anonymous distancing of the cockpit view with an added prologue of texts and photos that – in part at least – tries to re-humanize and re-individualize.

    It does seem clear though that the cockpit perspective of such videos – which, in a more sanitized form, became a PR staple of the first Gulf War – plays no small part in maintaining such distance, and much has been written about this fact and about the resemblance of these videos to films and video games. Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to tell in which direction the lines of resemblance are going, if recent video game production and soldiers’ testimonies are anything to go by. However, one might also point to the way in which the cockpit view uncomfortably positions any viewer of such videos. To what extent does our viewing render us ethically complicit and to what extent does it undermine documented actions? These questions should not be taken lightly or treated as mere pedantry. However much the lines between video games, films and war have become blurred, we should not need to be reminded that this video documents an all too visceral and an all too singular form of human suffering and horror. Without reminding ourselves of this, we run the risk of repeating the de-humanizing distance of the video, albeit for very different reasons. So, by all means, now that this video has been released, let it exert as much evidential pressure as possible to bring culpable parties to account, but let us not forget that each and every death is a singular death, and proceed with all due caution and respect when it comes to circulating and viewing such material.

  6. Bob Bateman


    A few things leap out at me on this topic. I watched, (and recommend watching to all), the full 37 minute uncut video. That one is not getting a lot of attention. Instead the heavily edited 7 minute, with commentary, video is getting the most hits. Max, we’ve talked about the nature of “propaganda” in the past. I submit this as a textbook case study of that art form. For others, I suggest watching the unedited, full, video for context. It’s a sad context, to be sure, but context nonetheless. (As a historian, I’m all about the context, right?)

    As we’ve discussed before: Yes, war sucks. Not just this war, all wars. It doesn’t matter if it was the “Greatest Generation” or the American Revolutionary War, or WWI, or the Seven Years War. War sucks. Full stop. I believe that we all agree upon that point, although I cede that only one of us here in your community has ever experienced war, so far as I can tell.

    But the thing about this video, and the reason it seems to be attracting so much attention, is not the actual action, but the voices of the pilot and co-pilot (gun operator).

    I’ve not seen here, or in most places, statements of outrage about their shooting of armed men, 150 meters away from a US ground combat patrol which occurred in an area of active combat operations. (You can see, fairly easily, in the full video, that at least two of the men were openly carrying AK-47s, on the street, and if you understand the context, you understand that this was occurring one block from where a small American patrol was in a defensive perimeter at that time, during a combat operation.) Most people also, when looking at the full video, acknowledge that the long-lens cameras, when viewed from 2 KM away (as the helicopter was) look very much like weapons. Particularly when somebody puts one on their shoulder (as you do with a Rocket Propelled Grenade) and, while crouching, points it from around the corner of a wall directly towards US troops. An RPG is about 1 meter long. A long-lens video camera is about .75 meters long. Put either on your shoulder, crouch, and point it towards US ground troops in a combat situation, and it is not surprising what might follow. Most of your readers seem to grok that point.

    So, in other words, most of that makes the initial “engagement” (I hate that word, but it’s common usage now) of the group of men understandable.

    What seems to inflame people is the apparently casual and seemingly callous commentary of the pilot-copilot. To which I offer no defense, only an explanation. War makes men callous about death. This, of course, should not come as a surprise to any thinking person. But I would offer a minor clarification: As a historian, I would suggest that it is not just the “psychological distance” from the killing (as suggested in Dave Grossman’s book, “On Killing”) that leads to this, but instead the repetition. I like Dave, and think that he’s probably a damned fine psychologist, but his use of history is not thorough, and indeed is misleading. I agree, there MAY be a link between the “psychological distance” one acquires with the use of technologies (the Norden bomb-sight in WWII for example), but that’s really beside the point, in the end.

    Reading accounts from, for example, the American Civil War, or for that matter, the French Revolution, one can see the same psychological numbing occurring. It is not “inhumane” that men in war talk like this. It is War that is inhumane. What you are seeing here is just the normal human reaction to sustained exposure to an inhumane situation. In short, “callousness.” The operative word, therefore, is not “technology,” as Grossman would have it, it is “sustained.”

    Some of your more hyperbolic posters might be well served by reading some historical first-person accounts of war, and then comparing the “voices” they “hear” in these things with the full 37 minute video. As I said, context matters. I enjoin your other readers to learn more about war, and it’s effects upon personalities, before they post.

    On a related note: Remember when I told you that we (the US military) were just not that competent in media relations to be able to actually manipulate a storyline? Yea, this is an object example thereof. The US military is getting the shit kicked out of it on this story, and still has yet to craft or publicize anything even remotely understandable on the topic.


    1. Maximilian Forte

      Sorry Bob, I don’t buy it. At no point did I mistake the cameras for weapons, and certainly not RPGs. Moreover, you omitted one very critical point: nobody was firing at U.S. forces. Therefore the “threat” was what exactly? The threat that if you turn other people’s homes into a war zone, that there is a chance that some might dare to fight back to regain control of their neighbourhoods and lives? In any event, as others have said, much worse happens, and has been revealed through the testimonies of returning vets. As for targeting journalists, we all remember the early days of the Iraq and Afghanistan invasions, when U.S. forces targeted Al Jazeera, and when they fired a shell from a tank as international journalists in the Palestine Hotel were broadcasting the event live. That was a hotel, not a military target, and the tank was not under fire. A number of journalists were killed then too:

      As for “experiencing” war, I take it you meant as a combatant. That is just one experience of war, and not a standpoint from which to monopolize all claims to validity, understanding, or insight. But nice try. Well, at least your competency in media relations is improving. The other experiences of war are those of the civilians at the receiving end, the onlookers, and those of us who involuntarily pay the taxes that support the war. All are experiences, and all pertain to war. (In my case, I have never been a combatant, but I have been to countries wracked by civil war, another the target of a U.S. mercenary war, and I had a rather unpleasant close encounter with a death squad in the highlands of Guatemala. I don’t wear those facts as badges — or as medals, as is your case — and the fact that this is the first time I even utter a slight hint of these experiences is that I never intended, nor intend, to use them as the techno-militarist equivalent of the moral high ground, using my grunts and groans as a substitute for wisdom.)

      However, I think the best way to handle the media relations issue on this is probably to say nothing at all. The military is getting, as you say, the “shit kicked out of it on this story,” because there is no acceptable defense, no way of mollifying the impact of the images or the accompanying words, without seeming too desperate about regaining ground that is permanently lost, without seeming defensive, and without further aggravating the situation.

      For example, in your post, you softly-softly proffer alibis, but somewhat like a person on trial, or in an interrogation. It suggests something is wrong, maybe a little wound somewhere, and tells us the rest of us to stop digging around that wound with our fingers, and start getting our elbows in there too, until you hemorrhage. That’s why sometimes it’s best to be silent — the complicity is already confirmed and is thus a non-issue, but at least someone might mistake your silence for mournful respect.

      1. Jack Burton

        How absolutely absurd. You didn’t mistake their camera for a weapon? Good for you, except you weren’t there. You’ve had the benefit of watching the video over and over again from the comfort of some office or your home. The apache pilots have been in a war zone, probably for an extended period of time. They have seen fellow soldiers get blown up, shot, limbs blown off, etc. They had seconds to make a determination over what they were seeing. And what did they see? A group of people, at least one with an RPG and one with an AK less than two hundred yards from American soldiers peering around corners looking at the US soliders. The pictures on their camera absolutely validate my point. I don’t care if there were journalists in the group, you carry weapons in the area of US soldiers and act in a manner that the pilots believed to be a threat to their fellow soldiers, all bets are off.

        As for your comment about nobody firing at US forces, would you prefer that in all cases we get a few soldiers dead just to be sure the group of people with weapons were really the enemy? Unfortunately, I think I know the answer.

        I came across your name in regards to the RYP and Blue issue and at first I believed you to be an honest broker just looking for the truth. But you’re not, your political beliefs are horribly evident in all that you write, and your follow up comments. You don’t like the military, and that’s putting it lightly. In your travels you see the worst in the US, and it actually sounds like you attribute things to the US regardless of our involvement.

        Of course, this is all your right as paid for my the sacrifices of those who you hold in so low esteem. And though you are probably loath to admit it, without our military our history, and freedoms, would be very much different than they are today. Imagine that in following your commentary in actually questioned the conclusion you would reach with regards to Blue and RYP.

      2. Maximilian Forte

        Thank you for this welcome entertainment, an enjoyable diversion. Now let’s have some fun pulling apart your tripe, since you volunteered yourself for vivisection.

        “You didn’t mistake their camera for a weapon?”

        No. Nor did I see any the first time. I certainly did not mistake anything for a RPG. So the answer remains: no. Your retort is totally unconvincing, which is why your side got the shit kicked out of it, globally, across the whole Internet…and a member of the very ground team in that video has not supplied a version that squares with your trumpeted validation:

        “As for your comment about nobody firing at US forces, would you prefer that in all cases we get a few soldiers dead just to be sure the group of people with weapons were really the enemy?”

        No–just kill everyone, you know, just in case.

        “I came across your name in regards to the RYP and Blue issue and at first I believed you to be an honest broker just looking for the truth”

        Well, now you are just plain lying, and lying stupidly too. If you came here from Old Blue’s rabid smear blog, and that is where you first encountered my name, and given your obvious sympathies toward your fellow mercenary, then clearly you came here with your judgments well formed in advance, and they could not have been so generous in my regards. So, you’re a liar. By comparison, yes, that therefore makes me the honest broker here, since I have outright lied about nothing at all. Not only that, I find Old Blue and RYP to be equally despicable, but Old Blue rants uncontrollably, like his little head was imploding and firing out his anus, and little that he says is even remotely competent analysis.

        “your political beliefs are horribly evident”

        Says Mr. Neutral Mercenary. Would you prefer that the beliefs were only “pleasantly evident” or “charmingly evident”? Horribly evident merely testifies to the fact that you are shocked anyone could have an opinion very different from yours, which means you are sheltered and accustomed to an echo chamber. The fact that I engage you, on the other hand, proves the contrary about myself.

        “this is all your right as paid for my the sacrifices of those who you hold in so low esteem”

        Good one. In a way, you are right: I live in a system and under a state that came into being and maintain themselves through great violence, including violence against the domestic population, against striking workers, protesters, and against people’s rebellions. I don’t “owe” you anything for that, I have no choice in the matter, except to exercise my civic duty to think freely and be critical. But if you meant that the military upholds democracy, then you are just an ignorant fool, since nowhere in the world has that ever been true.

  7. Bob Bateman


    No, I didn’t mean purely as a combatant. A civilian experiencing war knows the same things. (Sorry Max, your post-war voyeurism, and experience within murderous kleptocrocies doesn’t really count. We’re talking about actual war.) People, civilians and military, who have experienced war understand these points as you apparently do not. What frustrates is that you *could*, but choose not to.

    Just to be clear, exactly how many RPGs have you seen in a combat situation?

    It *does* matter Max. It’s not “waving the bloody shirt” (a 19th C American political expression) if we’re talking about an actual event captured on video. You really do need to have seen other RPGs in a combat situation in the past to evaluate this video. Which was my point. I have, and even to me, it wasn’t apparent those were cameras at first glance. (Aside from the point that the reporters were moving and working with the Mahdi Militia which was, at that time, fighting against the Iraqi Govt/US Forces.)

    In reference to the Palestine Hotel (two Reuters, or maybe one?) deaths in 2003, that was another case along almost the same lines. The fact that the Palestine Hotel was “civilian” was moot at that time and that place. US forces were being shot at, during the fighting in Baghdad, EXCLUSIVELY from “civilian buildings” Max. You know that. It is not incumbant upon a combatant to await fire before shooting at what appears to be a legitimate target. Those tankers saw somebody put something that appeared to be an RPG on his shoulder and aim it at their tank. So they shot. It’s that simple.

    There are plenty of tragedies in war Max. Few of them are crimes. They’re just tragic. Let’s find some that were (or are) crimes and do something about those. You’re wasting your time with this one.

    By the by, I disagree with your assessment about the media side on this. I think it’s incompetence on the part of the US military public-affairs structures. They were blindsided by the story, and even before that, it was stupid of the US military not to have responded (as they apparently did not) to the Reuter’s legitimate FOIA (Freedom Of Information Act) request of two years standing.

    The bottom line is that the video was taken from, roughly, 2km away, and the slung cameras *do* look like RPGs, especially when somebody kneels, and puts it on his shoulder, and points it towards US troops from around a corner.

    1. Maximilian Forte

      I really wonder from where you pull these ridiculous statements sometimes…there are so many of them, that they can’t be just from the one orifice I suspected.

      “your post-war voyeurism, and experience within murderous kleptocrocies doesn’t really count”

      POST-war? Not quite, right in the middle of it. And civil wars really do count as wars, as well as proxy wars fought by your pals in the Pentagon and the CIA. As I said, your experience, whatever it was, does not permit you to monopolize all claims to knowledge and experience, precisely as you are doing here. You really don’t pay attention very well, not a good sign for someone boasting of their learning.

      How many RPGs have I seen? Actually, quite a few: they were used by the Sandinista army, and I carried a telephoto lens…nothing at all similar between them, especially not in length (as you claimed), and there is no tube projecting back behind the person holding a camera. I am also by no means as detached from the military as you like to imagine, nor am I unfamiliar with the use of a lot of weaponry, but I will supply you with no further information. And sorry, those cameras do not look like RPGs to me, or pretty well anyone else who has watched these videos. What the gunners saw, they saw better than we did using this video…and at no point did I think I saw RPGs, and even the two rifles in evidence only became apparent when I paused the video repeatedly. In fact, my repeated verbal reaction when watching the video was: “WHAT WEAPONS?”

      What’s the justification for firing on a van, where NO weapons were present at all??? Why fire indiscriminately on unarmed civilians trying to aid the injured? The answer has already been provided by the more thoughtful commentators above.

      The bigger point is that war is about more than just your war stories Bob, your experiences, and your claims. Fortunately, a lot more. When I want to hear war stories from credible stories, I listen to vets who are not in the employ of the Pentagon, like you.

      So U.S. tanks regularly fire on civilian buildings, and do not have to wait to be shot at. Thanks for that admission — and as it comes from the Pentagon, I will quote you on that:

      “The fact that the Palestine Hotel was “civilian” was moot at that time…It is not incumbant [sic] upon a combatant to await fire before shooting at what appears to be a legitimate target”

      That is essentially an argument for blanket murder, with justifications coming ex post facto, if at all.

      As for the poor little military being blindsided by the Wikileaks release…I wonder: are you just uninformed, or do you think you can get away with such a brazen lie here? The Pentagon knew about it in advance, and apparently looked for ways to shut up Wikileaks…you know, the same way you people kill journalists.

      Click to access us-intel-wikileaks.pdf

  8. Maximilian Forte

    Anyway, let’s be clear Bob: in no way was I suggesting that my little experience in countries in the middle of civil war is in any way comparable to yours. I was most definitely a voyeurI wouldn’t have it any other way: I do not insert myself as some mercenary combatant, to boast of “participant observation.” I have no such intention. Your experiences and mine could never be commensurate: you are a paid killer, and I go to bed every night without the burden of knowledge of the lives that I helped to destroy and terminate. You have the military high ground here, and that’s the only high ground you can claim.

    Going back to LeftUnity, this statement stands out even more now:

    “The first is the realization that behind the unthinking bigotry and bravado of the pilots’ interactions, there lies a paranoid fantasia that conjures RPGs out of camera bags and security threats out of collective behavior. Through such a filter, all strikes are pre-emptive, potential threats are everywhere and lives are extinguished at the touch of a button. What is truly frightening here is not simply the sheer fact of death, but the cold weighing up of life and death in one arbitrary instant of human decision-making.”

    You’re the military expert here Bob, and how appropriate that your own words validate those of this commentator, especially when you say: “It is not incumbant [sic] upon a combatant to await fire before shooting at what appears to be a legitimate target,” even when it is an unarmed civilian target.

    All war situations, like any social situation, cannot be defined by one actor or group of actors alone (as hard as they might try). In this war, we are all participants, and the definition of the situation does not rest, with any legitimacy or credibility, solely in the hands of one of the guilty parties. Not here anyway.

  9. Maximilian Forte

    …And in other “news,” U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is still a liar:

    Wikileaks say Robert Gates is Lying in his Defense of Iraq Slaying Video

    Defense chief backs troops on Apache attack video

    Gates has followed the standard checklist:

    * Fog of War ✔
    * split-second decisions ✔
    * it’s unfortunate ✔
    * no harm to America’s image ✔

    But this is the crowning glory of this CIA-Pentagon-Academic:

    “They’re — they’re in a combat situation. The video doesn’t show the broader picture of the — of the firing that was going on at American troops.”

    That comment of his doesn’t show the even broader picture…of an unprovoked act of naked aggression by the U.S. against Iraq, an invasion and occupation, and storming of civilian neighbourhoods…the firing that was going on at Iraqis, to borrow Gates’ phrasing.

  10. ishtar enana

    Mr. Bateman,

    In my Arabic Heritage, we describe your comments as “a justification that is uglier than guilt”, The story of this is really a folktale that tells of a Caliph in Baghdad who asked his jester to illustrate to him this saying, i.e. how a justification could be uglier than guilt. The jester asked to be given some time. One day, the Caliph and his wife were walking in the garden of the palace and the jester was behind them. Suddenly the latter pinched the Caliph’s butt. The Caliph was very angry, vowing all kinds of punishment , when the jester apologized saying ” Sorry, I thought it was your wife’s”.

    So All I have to say to you is that you must be jesting , with your justifications for murdering Iraqi people who were walking , not in war zones, but in their own streets, going about their daily miserable life, thanks to you, and even if they were carrying weapons, which is not unusual in Iraq (and they were not carrying them) but they were not threatening either Iraqis or Americans.

    I have read many of the troops blogs and articles which tell us of the kind of the racist training which they had before deploying to Iraq, least but not last, is the understanding that Iraqis were responsible for 11 Sept. Most of the young soldiers and marines went there to revenge the Sept. events.

  11. Maximilian Forte

    “Our” resident expert on military matters, LTC Bateman, quick to proclaim his “war experience” because he makes the mistake of thinking we have some inferiority complex when it comes to killers-for-hire in state-issued uniforms, was unfortunately too preoccupied with selling us more bullshit to be able to objectively assess his own statements. Luckily, he gives us more ammunition, and this is why the Pentagon has not opened its mouth too much about this video, not to risk having more shit come out.

    Bateman wrote above:

    “Most people also, when looking at the full video, acknowledge that the long-lens cameras, when viewed from 2 KM away (as the helicopter was) look very much like weapons.”

    We already said that what we see, the people inside the helicopter saw (of course, with even greater clarity). But here is where Bateman slips. He says the helicopter was 2 km away. Others have estimated it was even closer, 1.6 km away:

    “given that the M230 chain gun carried by the Apache has a muzzle velocity of 805 m/s (2,641 ft/s), that puts the helicopter about 1.6 KM, or one mile, from the target. That’s right at the edge of the cannon’s 1500m (1640 yd) effective range.” [if one estimates the traveling time for the rounds to have been about 2 seconds, as shown in the delay between the firing of the rounds and their impact on bodies of civilians] (link)

    Here’s the rub: “The absolute maximum range of an RPG 7 is 920m (1000 yards)” (ibid).

    The helicopter was never in any danger from any real, but in this case imagined RPG, no matter what.

    Thanks LTC Bateman.

    But then again, this is the same Bateman who said there doesn’t need to be any sign of threat, or any hostile fire, for the U.S. military (a.k.a. mercenaries on the lower pay grade) to begin firing on civilians:

    “The fact that the Palestine Hotel was “civilian” was moot at that time…It is not incumbant [sic] upon a combatant to await fire before shooting at what appears to be a legitimate target”

    You don’t need war experience to detect rank bullshit. However, it does seem to be a prerequisite for lying at point blank range with a straight face. Next time military people make an appearance on this site, we should ask them to begin their comments with profuse apologies for having enlisted, dumb bloody bastards.

    1. Jack Burton

      Killers for hire in state issued uniforms? Really? How anyone in the military would ever waste their time with someone who would utter such nonsense is beyond me. And as my family is full of killers for hire, goodbye to you. I find your writings to be repulsive, probably just as repulsive as you find my existence and what I believe in. I just hope that you are not able to infect the minds of the younger crowd who may come across you in their journeys.

      The fact that you paint the military in the broad, hateful brush that you do is just disgusting. There are many dedicated, kind, thoughtful and brave men and women in the military, and the fact that you smear them so readily is a testament to your intolerance and ignorance.

      It’s people like you that make me wish that the next time the crap hits the fan, like in Haiti, that our armed forces say no thanks, you are on your own.

      1. Maximilian Forte

        Ah, the gifts keep on coming! Thanks again for volunteering yourself as one of the latest exotic specimens in my ethnographic freakshow. I wonder how many pennies will be thrown at you in approval.

        “Killers for hire in state issued uniforms? Really?”

        No, not really. I was just kidding. What I really meant to say was: “Unpaid volunteer nurses, working for an independent charitable organization.”

        “How anyone in the military would ever waste their time with someone who would utter such nonsense is beyond me”

        Ah-ha! Now you are onto something. So why don’t you ask yourself that question again, because balking is just a little too easy. Don’t balk, or bark, think. What is going on?

        “I just hope that you are not able to infect the minds of the younger crowd who may come across you in their journeys.”

        No, only you should be allowed to “infect” their minds. Interesting that you regard difference in views as equivalent to “infection”–you rather prove my point of the danger posed by mindless, patriotic militarists, so thanks. Also, I don’t know what American students are like…but ours have their own brains, they are not empty sponges, and they are not easily convinced by anything. That being said, the wonderful fact is that three quarters of Quebec teenagers allegedly rank the good ole USA as the number one threat to world peace, far above Al Qaeda…and appropriately so. So if anything, to the extent that my students might read my public writings, I am largely preaching to the converted.

        “I find your writings to be repulsive”

        Well that’s a relief! If I ever appealed to your mob, I would be seriously depressed.

        “There are many dedicated, kind, thoughtful and brave men and women in the military”

        Saints. You forgot to mention that they are like saints. Tell me though, if I take one of my guns, and stick it in your face…will it reassure you to know that I do so kindly, thoughtfully, and bravely…and with dedication? Or might you be just a little worried that I am a fucking nut who is about to take your life? Can you answer that honestly…no, because honest self-reflection is one of the qualities that you yourself excluded from that list. Good on ya.

        “It’s people like you that make me wish that the next time the crap hits the fan, like in Haiti, that our armed forces say no thanks, you are on your own.”

        YOU INVITED YOURSELVES INTO HAITI. You are the crap that hit the fan, and yes, stay home. Please.

        Oh wait, did you say “goodbye”? Goodbye then, but I will remain here.

    2. CjBombaYe

      I agree that the camera didn’t look like an RPG. Whether or not “the RPG” was within effective range of the AH is irrelevant. However, I DID SEE 2 assault rifles and making the assumption that the camera was an RPG seems more understandable.
      War is shit, and this is what you get in a war.

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  13. Maximilian Forte


    “RPG. Whether or not “the RPG” was within effective range of the AH is irrelevant”

    –No, instead it is very relevant, especially as a counter to those who argued that the helicopter was under threat from the RPG. Clearly, that is false, and the pilots would have known that.

    “However, I DID SEE 2 assault rifles”

    –I didn’t. Many others didn’t. At what exact point do you see them in the video?

    “making the assumption that the camera was an RPG seems more understandable.”

    –There is nothing understandable about it, if you have ever seen a camera, and ever seen a RPG. What about them do you find similar?

    “War is shit, and this is what you get in a war.”

    –Alright, just remember to repeat that after the next 9/11.

    NOTE also the routine editing done by commentators, even those who complain that Wikileaks edited the video–those who find no fault with the pilots, usually restrict their comments just to the first part of the video, never referring to the second part, with an unarmed civilian, in a van, trying to aid injured civilians, and getting torn to shreds by the helicopter gunfire. What did the van look like…a mobile missile launcher? Or did it look like the real threat was civilians who would live to tell the story? Judging from the hysterical response of the Pentagon to the leak of this video, it seems that the latter is the more likely.

    1. CJBombaYe

      Whether or not “the RPG” was within effective range of the AH is only relevant to said arguement, which so happens to be irrelevant; and of course the pilots knew.

      From 00:51-00:55 in the full version of the video, a message comes in, “Ok we got a target 15 coming at you. It’s a guy with a weapon.”
      From 01:03-01:15; a message from the same source in the video, “There’s about 4 or 5… this location and there’s more that keep walking by and one of them has a weapon.”

      From 02:03-02:30, two of the men look like they’re carrying weapons. At first glance they look like rifles. I’ve been reviewing the video many times(a benefit the pilots didn’t have) and I still can’t make out what else those two men would have been carrying, in fact the guy in the cross-hairs at 02:23 looks like he’s holding an RPG.

      From 02:34-02:45 the camera’s lens could be mistaken for the flared rear end of an RPG. Not to mention the camera man’s actions. Let’s not overlook the pilots’ psychological state, as they’re looking for insurgents not a camera crew.

      What happens from 03:16 onwards is ultimately a war crime, since most of the targets are clearly unarmed.

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