Video of Journalists’ Death Answer Some Questions, but Raise Others
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 7, 2010
by Marian Wang, ProPublica T Christian Miller contributed to this story
April 7: This post has been corrected.
On Monday, WikiLeaks made a big splash when it released a still-classified military video  from 2007 that shows a U.S. helicopter gunship shooting down a group of men in a suburb of Baghdad.
Reactions to the video range  widely: Some believe it betrays a possible war crime; others find it completely justifiable. Interestingly enough, many commentators fail to mention that, in recent weeks, the military itself has made some serious admissions about shooting civilians.
During a videoconference to answer soldiers’ questions in March, military officials said that U.S and allied forces had killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others during shooting incidents at Afghan checkpoints and during convoy runs, the New York Times reported in a little noticed story . Gen. Stanley McChrystal said that military inquiries into the incidents revealed that none of civilians had turned out to be threats.
“We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” McChrystal said during the videoconference, the Times reported.
Earlier this week the U.S. military did an about-face and admitted that American forces killed three Afghan women  during a nighttime raid in February. The military had previously denied involvement in their deaths.
Same Video, Different Interpretations
The aerial footage of the attack begins with several men walking down a street in Baghdad. The audio of transmissions between the helicopter pilots and gunners indicate that they believe some of the men in the group are armed, but it’s unclear from the video whether they are. The military personnel request permission to engage, and it is granted. They fire on the men, most of whom are struck down immediately. One in the group is wounded and proceeds to slowly crawl away. An unmarked rescue van pulls up, and two men get out of the vehicle to help the wounded man and transport him elsewhere, but the personnel in the helicopter request permission to shoot the van, and when it is granted, they fire on it. Later, ground reconnaissance reveals that two Iraqi children are in the van and are wounded. Both the man who had been crawling and another man who was killed in the first round of fire were later identified as journalists working for Reuters .