Leaked video shows soldiers killing civilians

WikiLeaks has just published a classified military video of soldiers killing unarmed civilians in Iraq.  Twelve civilians, including at least one Reuters journalist, were killed, and several more people were injured including two children.  The attack took place in July of 2007.

Here is how Democracy Now! covered the story.  And compare that to how Talk of the Nation on NPR covered the story.  Democracy Now! played clips of the video while talking to Julian Assange, co-founder of WikiLeaks and Glenn Greenwald, the wonderful blogger and former constitutional lawyer, while Talk of the Nation played parts of the video while talking to David Finkel who wrote a book called The Good Soldiers.  Finkel is really just an apologist for the military.  He argues that soldiers thought that some of the people they were firing at had weapons.  Also, he says that the soldiers in that particular area of Iraq (eastern Baghdad) had been taking a lot of fire around the time of the video and it was a bad time for the soldiers involved.

It seems very clear from the video that the individuals on the ground were not armed, and even if they were, they were not engaging with anyone.  No one was firing any weapons at anyone else.  No one was trying to shoot the helicopter that kept flying in circles around the individuals.  I really don’t understand how the soldiers could think that these were legitimate targets.

Another thing that is hard to understand is the indifference of the soldiers when they are “engaging” the people on the ground.  They seem all too happy to kill people.  They request permission to shoot, and then get irritated when it doesn’t come fast enough.  They joke about running someone over.  And then blame the people who have been shot and killed for bringing their children. It is simply amazing to me how callous these guys can be.

Everything about this is just tragic.

Of course, some will ask, could this tragedy have been avoided?

The answer is an unequivocal yes.  Yes, this tragedy could have been avoided.  If we weren’t there, then we wouldn’t be killing civilians.  It’s as simple as that.

When the US government sent its armed forces into Iraq under what we all know now was false pretenses, we decided that things like this were going to happen.  The US says that they try to avoid killing civilians, and even if we take them at their word, there are still tens or even hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis that would say that it doesn’t matter what one intends.  Dead is still dead.

And it is very hard to take them at their word when we can clearly see in the video what is going on (no one is shooting or doing anything that could be construed as menacing) and the military says (after their investigation) that the soldiers were engaging with the enemy.  And one commander says that he doesn’t know how the children got hurt.  Well, it is clear that the soldiers didn’t care if they hit the children or not.  They even seemed to be joking about it.  I certainly hope that this is not indicative of most soldiers, but I think that when we train people to kill, we are all worse off for it.

And the only way that a tragedy like this will be avoided in the future is by getting all of our troops out of Iraq now.

If we hadn’t attacked Iraq, we wouldn’t have to worry about killing civilians, and if we hadn’t occupied the country we wouldn’t have to keep worrying about this sad state of affairs.

On Democracy Now! Amy Goodman made this statement when transitioning from one story to the next, “we now move from a story of the US killing civilians in Iraq to a story of the US killing civilians in Afghanistan.”  This is not a story that we will hear everyday, but it could be.  Civilians are dying every day in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The only reason we are hearing about this particular incident is because we have (leaked) video footage of it.  The military tried to keep this under wraps, even after they had done an “investigation” and concluded that everyone involved did what they were supposed to do.  The military did the shooting, and others did the dying… everyone did just what they were supposed to do.

These are war crimes.  And they are happening every day.  Until all of our troops are out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we will continue to have incidents like this, whether we hear about them or not is another story.

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One Response to “Leaked video shows soldiers killing civilians”

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