War crime – reaction

Some reaction to yesterday’s Wikileak disclosure of horrific footage from an American helicopter gunship mowing down unarmed* civilians, as crewmen gloated over the killings.

James Fallows:

I can’t pretend to know the full truth or circumstances of this. But at face value it is the most damaging documentation of abuse since the Abu Ghraib prison-torture photos. As you watch, imagine the reaction in the US if the people on the ground had been Americans and the people on the machine guns had been Iraqi, Russian, Chinese, or any other nationality. As with Abu Ghraib, and again assuming this is what it seems to be, the temptation will be to blame the operations-level people who were, in this case, chuckling as they mowed people down. That’s not where the real responsibility lies.

Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin:

Reporters working for WikiLeaks determined that the driver of the van [that arrived on the scene after the initial carnage and tried to rescue an injured man, only to be destroyed by the gunship] was a Good Samaritan on his way to take his small children to a tutoring session. He was killed and his two children were badly injured.

A New York Times dispatch from Mosul, Iraq, reports that the family of 22-year-old Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, who was killed in the incident, burst into tears as they watched the video.

“At last the truth has been revealed, and I’m satisfied God revealed the truth,” said Noor Eldeen, the father of the photographer… “If such an incident took place in America, even if an animal were killed like this, what would they do?”

Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald notes that the Pentagon was forced to admit Sunday that its initial whitewash of a similar war crime in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, February 12 was false.

[A]fter surrounding a home where a celebration of a new birth was taking place, [US soldiers] shot dead two male civilians (government officials) who exited the house in order to inquire why they had been surrounded, and then shot and killed three female relatives (a pregnant mother of ten, a pregnant mother of six, and a teenager).

WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange on MSNBC:

In this case, we really have unique material that shows how modern aerial warfare is done… [It] shows the debasement and moral corruption of soldiers as a result of war. It seems like they are playing video games with people’s lives.

Assange and Greenwald joined Iraq expert and surge architect Brett McGurck and Lt. Col Anthony Shaffer on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan show to discuss the incident. I have embedded the conversation below, but the video does not show up on some browsers. You can link to it here.

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* Several sources say at least one person in the video appears to have a rifle dangling off his shoulder. I didn’t notice it. However, the people from the passing van who happened on the scene and attempted to remove the man injured in the first assault man were the clearly unarmed.