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Old 04-06-2010   #1
Schmedlap
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Default The Wikileaks collection

Moderator's Note

Today I have merged three threads on Wikileaks and re-named the thread accordingly. I have not merged the thread on Bardley Manning's (alleged) torture (ends).

WikiLeaks has posted a 17-minute clip shot from an Apache helicopter in July 2007. I just watched it and, frankly, was amazed. I cannot rationalize any justification for the actions of this Apache crew.

The link is here: http://collateralmurder.com/

If anybody can figure out a way to explain this, please weigh in. It appears, to me, that some guys with a 30mm wanted to shoot something so badly that they were able to convince themselves that no more than three individuals with items that kind of, maybe, resembled weapons somehow justified firing into a group of people with 30mm. As for their justification for shooting the unarmed individuals who arrived on scene to evacuate a wounded individual who clearly posed no threat to anybody - wow. If this is as bad as it looks, I hope these guys don't get away with this.

Added: fast forward to about the 2-minute mark to go directly to the video shot from the Apache.

Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-01-2013 at 12:11 PM. Reason: Add note
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Old 04-06-2010   #2
stanleywinthrop
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
WikiLeaks has posted a 17-minute clip shot from an Apache helicopter in July 2007. I just watched it and, frankly, was amazed. I cannot rationalize any justification for the actions of this Apache crew.

The link is here: http://collateralmurder.com/

If anybody can figure out a way to explain this, please weigh in. It appears, to me, that some guys with a 30mm wanted to shoot something so badly that they were able to convince themselves that no more than three individuals with items that kind of, maybe, resembled weapons somehow justified firing into a group of people with 30mm. As for their justification for shooting the unarmed individuals who arrived on scene to evacuate a wounded individual who clearly posed no threat to anybody - wow. If this is as bad as it looks, I hope these guys don't get away with this.

Added: fast forward to about the 2-minute mark to go directly to the video shot from the Apache.
If you look closely you will see some guys who LOOK like they have AK-47s. Specifically look at 3:44 to 3:50 in the video. The two guys standing next to the pole in the upper/middle part of the screen. I'm about 95% sure that the objects they are holding are not cameras. Too long. The two people identified in the video as journalists both have something slung over their shoulders....probably cameras. However the aircrew believe that they have weapons slung over a shoulder. A critical point is where the guy is peering around the corner with what might be a camera; the aircrew identify it as a RPG. They also claim that he is shooting...it is possible that they saw muzzle flashes with the naked eye that were blocked in the sensor. To be honest, things like this are going to happen when aircraft are allowed to make the PID of hostile forces. You just can't see enough detail in the air to make extremely close distinctions between big ass cameras and RPGs. So to me the biggest culprit if one must be identified is the decision maker who gave PID power to aircraft over dense urban terrain. Things like this were bound to happen to be frank.

The most damning thing about the video was the decision to engage the van picking up bodies and wounded. The JTAC Bushmaster 7 shares full responsiblity for that; the aircrew saw no weapons associated with the van nor did they relay to Bushmaster 7 that any weapons were present. Couple that with the fact that ground troops were apparently moments away and I question very strongly the decision to engage the van.

Three more points:
1. Dont read the subtitles alot of them are wrong, just listen to the radio.
2. There are obviously some missing portions of the video: I want to know what was cut, there could be some critical dialouge missing.
3. I also want to know whether the patrol that arrived on scene actually found weapons.

I want to know those last two points before fully making up my mind whether anything criminal took place.
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Old 04-06-2010   #3
Schmedlap
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanleywinthrop View Post
To be honest, things like this are going to happen when aircraft are allowed to make the PID of hostile forces. You just can't see enough detail in the air to make extremely close distinctions between big ass cameras and RPGs. So to me the biggest culprit if one must be identified is the decision maker who gave PID power to aircraft over dense urban terrain. Things like this were bound to happen to be frank.
For the most part, I agree. But I would just add that if I'm given the power to PID and engage, then I'm not going to blame the guy who gave me that authority when I don't PID. But, yes, that certainly is a problem. I learned it the hard way a few years ago when an Apache pilot asked permission to 30mm a "suspected VBIED" after he had just fired hellfires for us at a target that we directed him to. The "suspected VBIED" that he spotted was not within our view but when he asked to shoot at something that he said he thought was a VBIED when we're under fire - yeah, kill it. I later saw the video and was furious. The vehicle was clearly not a VBIED (though it thankfully had nobody inside - so no civilian casualties). To make matters worse, the 30mm badly damaged a newly paved road that we had spent months trying to get repaired. It's tough to step back in the heat of the moment and say, "wait a minute - I have no idea what this pilot is looking at" but, as you observed, it is problematic if you don't.

Agree with all other points, too.

Added: Good comments here: http://blog.ajmartinez.com/2010/04/0...ateral-murder/

Added: 15-6 and supporting documents: http://bit.ly/bLlCEi

Added: Not great comments, but handy still photos here: http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/201878.php

Last edited by Schmedlap; 04-06-2010 at 02:27 AM. Reason: Links
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Old 04-06-2010   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stanleywinthrop View Post
2. There are obviously some missing portions of the video: I want to know what was cut, there could be some critical dialouge missing.
Good eye! I'm not sure I would have noticed without reading Wikileak's documentation.

This video is about 14 minutes @ YouTube resolution of a 38 minute high-resolution video. Wikileaks created a Torrent for the full 616 megabyte (purportedly) unedited file. If you are set up to download Torrent files, click here.

To get a program to let you download Torrent files, click here. Note: many corporate/institutional firewalls block the use of this file type.
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Old 04-06-2010   #5
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I don't have a lot to say about this video; I don't have the background to contribute.

It turned my stomach to see it, and I'm kind of ashamed by that. I didn't feel the same way when I've watched similar videos on LiveLeak and other sites, wherein I 'knew' that the targets were legitimate. Statistically speaking, this probably wasn't the first time I watched an American gunship fire on a civilian.
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Old 04-06-2010   #6
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The (reasonably) complete video is available here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is9sxRfU-ik&aia=true

It cuts to the "triangular building" towards the end.
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Old 04-06-2010   #7
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I put my thoughts up at my blog, but there's so much in here that's completely wrong. Do the Apache pilots not even acknowledge the figures walking in front of the triangle-shaped building that are clearly unarmed? Why do they shoot a second missile into the building, especially when they see more unarmed figures running into the burning building? Did they pose a threat?
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Old 04-06-2010   #8
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Default Read the 5-16 Investigation

The 5-16 investigation and the pictures enclosed in it give the most complete picture, providing context you can't see in the video.
First, the ground unit had declared TIC and the Apaches were on station to support them. The guy peering around the corner was actually one of the journalists taking pictures of a HMMWV just 100 meters down the alley. Given the TIC, his actions, and the close proximity to the TIC unit, you can see why the pilots were spring loaded to attack. They felt they were defending the ground unit that was already taking fire.

I won't get into the engagement of the van, but would be interested to hear from people who actually know the legal aspect as to whether that was a bad shoot or not.
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Old 04-06-2010   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pjmunson View Post
The 5-16 investigation and the pictures enclosed in it give the most complete picture, providing context you can't see in the video.
First, the ground unit had declared TIC and the Apaches were on station to support them. The guy peering around the corner was actually one of the journalists taking pictures of a HMMWV just 100 meters down the alley. Given the TIC, his actions, and the close proximity to the TIC unit, you can see why the pilots were spring loaded to attack. They felt they were defending the ground unit that was already taking fire.

I won't get into the engagement of the van, but would be interested to hear from people who actually know the legal aspect as to whether that was a bad shoot or not.
Thanks for that additional information. I don't know what to make of this incident yet (and I have no legal knowledge to speak of) but I sure don't trust the video by itself.

Regardless of what was happening on the ground, the effects of this video on public perceptions in the west and on the perceptions held by Muslim populations targeted as audiences by radicals will be detrimental. Information like this is a weapon.

LOW violations in COIN are obviously extremely harmful. Video and photography magnify the effects and often lack complete context. As a result, leaking something like this is not a trivial act and should not dealt with as such. This leak is essentially an attack. It might or might not have been intended as such, but that's what it ends up being.
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Old 04-06-2010   #10
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Was giving benefit of the doubt on the initial engagement, given the TIC and info coming from the ground, and the inability to distinguish weapons from cameras clearly. The second half is what bothers me and others. Couldn't see how to justify engaging the van providing CASEVAC and the Hellfire strike.

On the mitigation side, if a journalist decides to embed w/an insurgent group during an attack, he is placing himself in jeopardy, so some of the outrage is overstated. Also noteworthy is the lack of anyone else on the streets - clearly a fight was going on and the locals knew it. I also haven't figured out why a van with kids in it would be picking up wounded insurgents given the fight nearby. Still doesn't justify the latter half of the video, but is curious.
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Old 04-06-2010   #11
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My cynical side says that these pilots know that their conversations are recorded, thus the verbal observations that clearly establish an issue of fact as to whether they thought they were shooting at individuals who were armed and continuing, by some means, to resist.
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Old 04-06-2010   #12
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Is anyone else having difficulty downloading the 15-6 from the CENTCOM site?
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Old 04-06-2010   #13
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Default Bill Roggio has his explanation also.

It may be found here.
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Old 04-06-2010   #14
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Ignoring all facts, photos and runups....

IMHO the excited tone of the gunner says it all... he had tasted blood and would have fired on the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders if they had been there...

I observed this in soldiers (myself included) when they had attacks of frustration and fury when someone else "got one" and they did not... insane jeasousy of those who did not, "I'mtheman-I'mthe man-I'mtheman" playing in the back of the head of the guy who did....

This guy probably high fived himself menatally.

I suspect when he is older, married and has kids of his own he will see the light, especially as far as the kids are concerned....
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Old 04-06-2010   #15
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Discipline is supposed to keep such phenomena sufficiently in check.
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Old 04-06-2010   #16
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Default Monday Morning Quarterbacks?

I am a little surprised by the general comments on this one. I think most of you should go back and read the Rules of War (FM27-10) and then the ROEs. (You might also want to get jmm99 involved in this one.) If I am a civilian and pickup a weapon on the battle field I become a combatant and btw, if I drop the weapon, I do not become a non-combatant again. This group of Iraqi "civilians" engaged our troops with AK-47s and RPGs. They were then treated like insurgents. They were tracked down and they were killed. If they are not tracked down and killed, they will reture to kill you (or Iraqi civilians, usually the ones on our side) later. The war crime was not US soldiers killing civilians but the war crime was insurgents using civilians as shields.
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Old 04-06-2010   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Polarbear1605 View Post
The war crime was not US soldiers killing civilians but the war crime was insurgents using civilians as shields.
Maybe you should go read the GC IV and the additional protocol I.


You better not argue that the GC is applicable, for article 51 and 57 of the additional protocol I pretty much declare the Apache gunners to be war criminals while articles 28, 34 and 35 of GC IV and article 51 GC IV additional protocol I could teach you what illegal human shields are in reality (and there were none in the video).

The popular understanding of "human shields" is badly blurred because the topic has been used too often for (often wrong) accusations in IO/propaganda since Desert Storm.


So better leave out the international law; it damns only the uniformed side of that video.

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/385ec082b509e76c41256739003e636d/6756482d86146898c125641e004aa3c5

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/470?OpenDocument

Finally the GC III text for completeness' sake (only relevant to POW "human shields")
http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/7c4d08d9...25641e004a9e68

(I happened to have a closer look at the topic last year, that's why I have these links and articles that readily.)
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Old 04-06-2010   #18
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First let me commend Small Wars Journal for having the guts to post a thread about this.

Glen Greenwald at Salon.com has made the obvious deduction; this is how America makes war; all the time. Each time an incident of this nature makes it into the media, we are first asked to believe that what happened was unfortunate but completely justified and when that excuse is shredded, we are told that the event was an "isolated incident".

It is quite obvious that these incidents are not "isolated"; there have been too many of them for that. They are a direct result of policy, training and culture. The suppression of the video by the military, the refusal of the Obama Administration to release photographs of torture victims, the deliberate targeting of journalists, the "whitewash" investigations and trials that always seem to lead to acquittal, all point to the same thing; this is standard operating procedure.

I know at some stage someone will explain the rigorous rules of engagement and controls in place that are supposed to prevent these incidents, however it is quite obvious that they are honoured in the breach. The military don't give a damn about brown people getting killed, they just don't want it to get into the media, and if it does, they want a defence to limit career damage. There is no technical (in the widest sense) solution to this problem. To put it another way, the military would not have suppressed this video if it did not show a shameful act.

The heart of the American problem is the basic hypocrisy at it's core; when challenged over an incident like this, the ultimate fall back position is; "Well, these are little brown people, and we don't live here, so we do what we have to do." This is the same attitude that gave all of us the banking crisis and numerous other disasters; "Yeah, I know we said we were trustworthy, but we gotta make a buck". "Yeah, I know we have a Constitution, but waterboarding works".

Let me ask the obvious question. What is the point of "Hearts and Minds" campaigning at all when you also do this? How much goodwill has just been lost? How many recruits to jihad has this and similar incidents created?

To borrow a quote; ""Aiding the enemy? If the truth aids the enemy then we are in the wrong war."



http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/

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Old 04-06-2010   #19
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Default GC??? Who said anything about GC?

I love the military mind, it automatically fires before it is aimed by turning doctrine into dogma.
Hey Fuchs, FM 27-10 is a US Army Field Manual that applies to all US Militray personnel and I agree you need to stay away from the GC because it is basically setup for state-on-state affairs and therefore rewards treachery. Like it or not combat is always governed by rules of war and they are clear on insurgents and combatants. If you want to debate GC and treachery go back and read the Lieber Code...no reward for treachery there..and you might want to read up on "strategic legalism".

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Old 04-06-2010   #20
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Who cares about a field manual? It's been approved by soldiers (at most "by order of the secretary of the army"), not by a parliament.
The GC ranks much higher than any FM. It's been signed by the POTUS and ratified by congress. It has the force of a law.

FM 27-10 is pretty much an interpretation guidance booklet, not the rule book itself.


We can stay away from the (usually highly unpleasant, for various reasons) GC in this discussion.
It's not legal to ignore it in a war zone, though.



By the way; the GC III is relevant to the Iraq War 2003-201x:

Quote:
Art 3. In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following
provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria. To this end the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
(...)
(Iraq ratified.)
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