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Wikileaks Video

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Maltob14, Apr 6, 2010.

  1. Maltob14

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    There is the video incase you haven't seen it. The basic story is: This footage comes from an apache in Iraq in 2007. The military thought they were engaging insurgents when it turned out they were innocent civilians and the story was covered up. This video was sent to wikileaks by a whistleblower and has deemed authentic by unnamed military brass.

    Having watched this video yes it is appalling and tragic that this happened, but this is the nature of war where nothing is certain. Based on the intel they had and what they saw, American forces decided the best course of action was to take out the targets. On the other hand critics are calling for new rules of engagement to minimize the occurrences of these types of situations. Personally, and this is based on what little I know about that exact situation, if I was shown this video and was only told this was taken in an Iraqi hot spot without the arrows or labels, I probably wouldn't have guessed those were cameras.

    Focus: Discuss the video.
     
    #1 Maltob14, Apr 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  2. Kubla Kahn

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    What do these critics think terrorist and insurgents should do about their tactics of dressing as and murdering civilians? Why isn't that focused on to death in the media? Somehow in our fucked up world it is easier and more fashionable to paint the US as the big bad war criminals.
     
    #2 Kubla Kahn, Apr 6, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  3. Solaris

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    Well the videos certainly very shocking. It did appear that the guys had weapons, but it wasn't 100% and clearly this kind of mistake shows that using helicopters in that role just isn't acceptable. If they could make a mistake like that so easily, it makes me wonder how often it occurs and we don't get to hear about it.

    However, it is war and mistakes like this will always be made. However, what really sets this apart is that they fire on the Van, which is presumably just trying to help the wounded people. This is where, in my mind, the incident changes from an honest mistake into something much more sinister. They effectively fired on a makeshift ambulance and were jubilant about racking up a few kills.
     
  4. toddus

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    See the problem with this statement is that your second point is reliant on the first holding false. If as you said the chopper pilots were right to decide the targets had weapons then to do anything other than flame the van would be careless.

    I don't want to comment on the overall issue because I just think there is a right or wrong. It just happened. But to say one event in the series is independent of the others is false. Once the initial action was decided all subsequent action had to be in line with this. To act otherwise would have been negligent at the time.

    Edit: To the issue of helicopters being unsuitable for this type of action, an engaged soldier from 50+ yards out would not have been able to make a more informed decision. I dare say the ability to take accurate action would be less.
     
  5. Solaris

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    The point I'm trying to make is that even if they guys had weapons, it would still have been wrong to fire on the van as it was doing nothing but aiding the wounded. What threat did it pose to anybody? It was clear they were doing nothing other than collecting the dying/dead. Surely it's a war crime to fire on enemy medical personnel like that?
     
  6. toddus

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    This isn't a traditional war with black and white. If the individuals were identified as insurgent in this particular war than anyone coming to their aide would also fall into this category and become hostile.
     
  7. Misanthropic

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    I'm not going to comment on how these soldiers handled themselves. I have never been shot at, or been in a combat situation. Without actually hearing soldiers say they are intentionally going to shoot a bunch of civilians and children for the fun of it, it is difficult to pass judgement in this situation.

    I am surprised that there has been so little discussion of how our modern fighting tactics contribute to incidents such as this. Even when you are on the ground, in so called "face-to-face"armed combat, when you can see the enemy running around with weapons and trying to kill you, these types of mistakes are made, as Solaris pointed out. When you start fighting wars from a distance as we currently do, using drones, missiles, etc. it would have to be extraordinarily difficult to accurately identify who exactly you're shooting at.
     
  8. toddus

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    Back to my point before, unless you were within 50 yards if you were sitting in that street and you saw someone reach around the corner like the cameraman in a hostile area leading with his camera, the odds are most would engage. This isn't an issue of remote warfare. The issue is the role of journalism and its ability to interact with neutrality without the need to be embeded.
     
  9. hawkeyenick

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    It is not a war crime to fire on enemy medical personnel unless they are properly identified. Proper identification essentially means having the Red Cross (or the other few accepted symbols) clearly displayed by the medical personnel. If that identification is not there, then the enemy personnel are soldiers, and are considered fair targets on the battlefield.

    I'm not arguing the morality of what was done. However, given the actions taken, toddus is correct when he says that the proper course of action after taking the first steps would be to see it through to the end. This war is one unlike those seen by the US before, the way to win is to eliminate resources for the enemy. The van is just as likely to be picking up resources (guns, ammunition, and the like) as it is to be providing medical assistance (from the military members point-of-view) - at least in this context where there are no markings implying medical personnel. The correct course of action is to continue to eliminate the enemy if you believe you have them identified.
     
  10. Allord

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    Thanks for putting this up, Maltob. I saw this last night and was considering putting it up myself, but hadn't yet figured out what I wanted to say in the ensuing post.

    My thoughts were similar to Solaris.

    The problem here is that the soldiers were FAAAR too gung ho to get on with the killing (the guy on the radio shouting "Come on! LET US SHOOT!") They spent far too little time identifying whether or not the force posed a threat, and were far too eager to just gun them down and get it over with. This is a case in point of "Shoot first, ask questions later", and in a situation where identifying hostiles from civilians is so fuzzy and difficult the call should be made only when the identification is absolutely certain.

    In my mind this is the equivalent of seeing a guy walking down the street and saying "He looks like he could rob a bank. Oh, he's got a briefcase in his hand, he could possibly use that to take money. There's something in his pocket, it might be a gun. Oh! He's walking into a bank! He's a bank robber! I need to kill him before he robs the bank!"

    I'm not going to make a judgment call on whether this was right or wrong, but I do believe the intelligence gathering was really sloppy in this situation, the soldiers didn't care about picking the right target they just wanted to shoot something, and quite frankly it seems unacceptable for this to be the case.

    I've seen another video of a gunship watching a group plant an IED by the side of the road and then blow them to shit, that was a lot more cut and dry. Unfortunately such simplicity is rare.

    And it's important to remember, even if the people have AK-47s, that doesn't necissarily make them hostile. I've heard several voices say non-hostile civilians carry high caliber weaponry simply for survival purposes in this environment.
     
  11. TheCapn

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    Mistakes are made all the time and collateral damage is something that is always going to go hand in hand with war.

    I think the moral issue lies with the military trying to cover the incident up and lie about it.

    If you fuck up, admit it.
     
  12. ghettoastronaut

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    Because the insurgents are the enemy and the soldiers are on our side (I say "our" even though I'm not American). I don't understand the relativism that excuses anything as long as the other side is worse. The other side in Afghanistan goes into villages at night and punishes the locals who support us by, for example, cutting out the eyeballs of their targets. We don't do that, and we shouldn't have to (in fact, don't need to) prop ourselves up as the superior society by comparing ourselves to their brutal tactics. Sure, the other side violates and abuses the Geneva convention. The fact that we don't is what makes us better.

    That said, I saw the video. Not quite sure what to think of it - I saw the part where the reporters carrying cameras are identified as insurgents carrying AK-47s; I really don't know what an AK-47 would look like in those circumstances. Then, the part where a guy is seen crouching around the corner of a building and identified as carrying an RPG; that part really did look to me like he was shouldering an RPG and his behaviour looked like he was set to fire on the helicopter. What follows is tragic but, it seems, consistent with the first observation. There was constant radio chatter going up and down requesting permission to engage as well as waiting for permission. It seems a foregone conclusion that if the guys in the chopper had known what was going down on the ground they wouldn't have opened up and, chances are, they aren't sleeping too well knowing what they've done. The responsible thing would be for the military to admit what happened, issue an apology (as well as whatever compensation funds are typically handed out for like incidents like these) and send the video to the folks who do lessons learned to see what could be done to prevent it in the future.
     
  13. Maltob14

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    An important detail that I've heard come up when discussing this with others was that there was an American patrol set to pass through the area - which you can see near the end of the video - and that the gunship therefore had to prevent a possible ambush/IED attack. From the chatter, it seems to me like the pilot was pressed for time as he circled around to get a clear shot. Just something to consider.
     
  14. toddus

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    This is an utterly disingenous analogy. This was individuals in a hostile environment who shortly after an area witnessing a firefight were seen carrying what looked like a weapon and acting in a suspicious way.

    I am not for a second supporting nor condeming the actions that followed but given the situation your analogy is uttlerly unfair.
     
  15. toddus

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    I may very well be corrected by I am under the impression the patrol you are mentioning were under attack shortly before this incident.
     
  16. pincinelly

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    I think this is the most important issue. The soldiers made a mistake in shooting civilians, which many people on here seem to agree was understandable, because it was easy to confuse the camera with an RPG. So the question is, why cover up a mistake? The military could have come out and said "These guys made a horrible mistake that resulted in several civilians being killed, they will be punished appropriately blah blah blah" and this would have blown over by now.
     
  17. toddus

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    You are totally right in this statement; however lacking cultural understanding. The military never admits fault. Ever. Again I don't express personal feelings am simply stating the facts.
     
  18. Crazy Wolf

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    The first items identified as "RPGs" by the chopper pilots had me doubting their eyesight, but I was watching that on a 17" screen, which I think is a bit larger than the Apache's display. They seemed a bit trigger-happy, but people fuck up. It does make me want to upgrade the optical systems, situations like this would be far clearer.
     
  19. MoreCowbell

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    I'm not entirely sure where they got the firm idea that the men were carrying guns from. They seemed pretty damn sure of it. Maybe some more familiar with weaponry than I am can comment on whether or not that looked like a gun to them. It certainly didn't to me, let alone a specific model of weapon. I think this might be a case of "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
     
  20. Maltob14

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    The way they had their cameras slung I guess you can make the mistake of thinking they were carrying an AKS.