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Collateral Murder – Video of US mistaken killing of Reuters journalists and civilians 5, April 2010

Posted by thegulfblog.com in American ME Relations.
Tags: , , , , ,

The following is a harrowing video showing the wrongful killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq. The video is taken from the gun camera of a US attack helicopter.

This incident shows the killing of two Reuters journalists and numerous civilians. Reuters have been demanding the release of this footage for sometime. Yet the US DOD have been obfuscating. Enter Wikileaks.

A few points to note:

  • This tragedy is essentially the story of a simple misidentification. The cameras of the Reuters reporters are taken for AK-47s and RPGs.
  • Whilst there are pertinent and important questions regarding the apparent ease with which this mistake was made and the resulting horrific consequences, I think that the video clearly shows that it was the result of a simple yet inordinately costly mistake.
  • The US DOD are embarrassed by this video. They obviously did not want it to be released. Yet, by now they ought to know that it is exceedingly difficult to keep such things under-wraps. Had they come out with it immediately with a full and frank mea culpa, they at least would have retained some notion of credibility and honesty.
  • This is a war. Mistakes happen. I would only say that there is a great rhetorical difference between one side that attempts to avoid the killing of innocent civilians versus another which willfully and openly targets anyone and everyone as a tactic. At the same time, however, a dead body is a dead body.
  • This video is called ‘Collateral Murder’. This is unfair. Murder is a premeditated act, willfully and knowingly carried out. Neither is the case here. Whilst the result is the same (see last point) this is a key difference.


1. joz - 6, April 2010

excellent points! It shows the importance of transparency. Wiki Leaks does a good job publishing the video, but sadly is not impartial and has a wrongfully biased position on the incident.

2. Peter - 6, April 2010

I disagree. This video did show murder. Where in the Geneva Convention are you allowed to kill people attempting to evacuate the wounded? You are not supposed to shoot medics. The civilians in the van were clearly attempting to assist the sole survivor of the attack. The chopper gunner was literally begging for an excuse to kill the survivor and those that attempted to rescue him. Murder is entirely appropriate.

davidbroberts - 6, April 2010

You raise a very good point. I have little argument with that. As far as the US forces were concerned this was an example of insurgents taking away an injured insurgent, so I suppose your substantive point remains. I have no desire to quibble about whether they were in uniform etc etc and the Geneva conventions therefore applied to them or not.

I still think, however, that the fact that all this was done in error – crass, horrific error, for sure – means that, for me, murder is probably not a suitable term.

Thanks for posting.

3. JP - 7, April 2010

I am a very pro military person, but this disgusts. I can see how they thought these men were carrying weapons, but in know way were they engaging anyone. These chopper pilots should not be allowed to shoot unless they see an engagement taking place, or if there are eyes on the ground calling in the air strike. This is ridiculous. I feel terrible for everyone involved including the pilots. They have to live with this the rest of their lives.

4. Anonymous - 10, April 2010


Watch the entire clip, it clearly shows the men having RPGs and AK47s.

5. On the Wikileaks cables « The Gulf blog - 29, November 2010

[…] has a quasi-anti-U.S. stand point and is specifically anti the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Calling a video ‘Collateral Murder’ shows no signs of seeking […]

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