By David Walsh in the USA:
The New York Times fingers whistleblower WikiLeaks
8 April 2010
The release of video footage Monday showing cold-blooded murder committed by US military forces on the streets of eastern Baghdad in July 2007 has evoked widespread outrage and horror. The video has been viewed more than 4 million times since its posting, offering a worldwide audience a first-hand glimpse of the real character of the US occupation of Iraq.
It has also provoked the liberal newspaper of record in the US, the New York Times, to zero in on WikiLeaks, the web site that exposed the crime, as a dangerous source of opposition that should, if things worked out to the Times’ liking, be put out of business.
The chilling July 2007 video, made available to and posted on WikiLeaks, records an attack by US helicopter gunships on a crowd of a dozen or so men, including, as it would become known, two Reuters news agency employees, Namir Noor-Eldeen and his assistant Saeed Chmagh. The two Iraqi journalists were among 10 to 15 Iraqis killed in the massacre, which is no doubt typical of innumerable such incidents. (See “Leaked video shows US military killing of two Iraqi journalists”)
The video footage posted by WikiLeaks reveals that—without making any attempt to determine the identities of the individuals—the helicopter gunners receive permission to kill everyone in the group and set about their murderous work with enthusiasm. When a local man stops to aid the wounded, his van is fired on, wounding two children. The helicopter pilots gloat about the carnage.
One or two of the Iraqis in the group appear to be carrying weapons. Civilians are permitted to own firearms in Iraq, and many do. Neither the gunship nor any other US forces are in danger at any point.
According to reporters present nearby, the American forces were firing on everything that moved that day. This is the nature of a colonial war. The occupiers, confronted with a hostile population, come to view everyone as the enemy. In the present conflict, the extraordinary firepower available to US forces increases the likelihood of fatalities. As many as one million Iraqis have died as the result of the illegal US-led invasion launched in March 2003. The video in question makes the immense death toll somewhat easier to comprehend.
The Pentagon attempted to prevent Reuters from obtaining the video of the 2007 murders and covered them up. All the troops involved in the killings were exonerated, and the army declared that the incident was conducted according to its rules of engagement. Various experts have demonstrated that this is false, even on the military’s own terms.
The New Yorker posted a piece April 5 by Raffi Khatchadourian which points out that the operation contravened the army’s rules of engagement on at least four grounds: proportionality; positive identification of the targets as combatants; “command culture” (the helicopter crew falsified the situation on the ground, exaggerating or inventing threats, and their commander accepted their claims without question); and the firing on the wounded.
All this may be very well, but the New York Times has other concerns. Its article is headlined, rather ominously, “Iraq Video Brings Notice to a Web Site.” It might be entitled, “New York Times Fingers a Web Site.”
The piece begins by identifying WikiLeaks as a web site “that posts classified and sensitive documents.” It notes that “Somehow—it will not say how—WikiLeaks found the necessary computer time to decrypt” the video in question. All in all, the article suggests, this was clearly a dubious or illegitimate undertaking.
Massacre Caught on Tape: US Military Confirms Authenticity of Their Own Chilling Video Showing Killing of Journalists: here.
Non-Citizen US War Vets Facing Deportation Despite Military Promises of Citizenship: here.
Iraq: Seven Years of Occupation, by Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar: here.