Collateral Murder

Firstly, I’m  deeply sorry to the victims in Collateral Murder, my heart goes out to their families and friends. There’s something very despicable about watching someones life being taken from them, it’s wrong on so many levels. I didn’t want to watch it,  and I found it so distressing that I cried most of the way through, but unfortunately the video is too important to ignore and I can’t write about it without having seen it.

A brief run down for those who don’t want to watch: A helicopter spots a group of  about 15 people walking through the streets, somewhere in Iraq, one of which is carrying something that looks like a rocket launcher. It is in fact a camera, held by one of two journalists for Reuters who are walking with the group. The helicopter requests permission to fire, then does and kills all but a couple who try to crawl away. Both happen to be the journalists. One of them is shot at again until he is dead, the other crawls for a while until a van arrives to try and rescue him. They are also shot and all are killed. In the van are two children who were wounded, the van was completely destroyed. A tank then runs over one of the bodies.

They were acting on orders. They took a look at what was going on and came up with the viable solution that they are trained to find in this situation. They are in a hostile zone, someone looks to be carrying an RPG, others look to hold guns. But this shocking play out of events finds them realising in the last scene that they killed innocent people, even injured children. “Well its their fault for bringing kids into a battle,” says one soldier. “That’s right,” another replies. They have to alleviate themselves from the guilt of the situation or else they can’t do the task at hand. They’re rash, they’re afraid, they’re jumpy.

I can’t completely blame the soldiers who think they are just doing their job, saving the rest of the world. They weren’t the ones who pushed for this fake war where innocent people die for trying to take photos of atrocities they would ultimately become a part of. But I can question their procedures. Why can they kill before they have accurate and verified sightings of weapons? Why do they keep shooting until everyone is dead, instead of just wounding them so that they are out of action? Why can they shoot at any vehicle no matter who may be inside? Why are they allowed to shoot people trying to rescue the wounded? Why are any of these innocent deaths justifiable by the US Army?

Break it down. Why are these 15 people dead? Not because of any real or valid reason I can find. They are dead because the US wanted to invade, to get some oil, to establish a Middle Eastern stronghold, to avoid righting the class imbalance in their own society by allocating funds to the latest “threat” to national security. Iraq had no WMD’s, nor was there the intelligence to suggest there was any. They weren’t connected to 9/11. There were no terrorists. We simply went into a country, tore apart their government and businesses and destroyed the whole lot. We left them with nothing but bombed rubble piles that were once homes and dead family members. Over a hundred thousand civillians have died for this reasonless war.

And we only find out because in this group of civillians, two journalists died. Reuters fought for the footage via the Freedom of Information Act for three years. This was held back from the public for three years. I first saw the story at 5am this morning on wikileaks, Al Jazeera ran it immediately, The Age took six hours after realising it wasn’t just going to blow over, Fox News took 9 and CNN finally ran it almost 12 hours after the fact. Still, till now, they would prefer to sweep this under the carpet than expose the world to the truth. That is where our media stands. Biased, controlled, ruthless, frustratingly mute on the most important stories. How many more videos are there like this one?

Again, I’m gravely sorry for what has happened to these poor souls. But I am thankful that this has come to the surface, for the sake of democracy and transparency and truth. We need to see our leaders for what they really are, the system for what it is. It is corrupt and it cheats and it lies and it kills. This story is a step on the path of righting the injustice of many at the hands of the rich, elite few. Hopefully soon the trickle will become a flood and there will be nowhere left for them to hide.

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10 Responses to “Collateral Murder”

  1. Wendy Voltaire Says:

    Wow, that’s horrible.

    I hate the “I was just following orders!” excuse. Where did their moral compass go? Reminds me too much of the Nuremburg Defense.

  2. Lil Says:

    How did one so young, Become so wise?
    I’m an Army veteran and I know that these actions have violated many of the laws of land warfare. I know that we are not supposed to attack the wounded or those who are merely coming to their aid. It was plain to see that the wounded were no longer a threat, and the people in the van were only intent on rescuing them.
    Even if they had done everything right, Laughing about it is crass and unforgivable.
    I watched it and I cried because it hurt on too many levels to see what had happened. We should never have gone into Iraq. We should have finished up in Afghanistan and left when Osama Bin Ladin was brought to justice, and any damage repaired and the country strengthened so that there would be no more Talibans. President Asshole Bush should have that smirk wiped off of his face with a war crime trial.
    Please, Don’t judge us all by looking at this bunch. There are more of us who are decent than there are who would do murder.

  3. LuLi Says:

    Wendy – Yeah I’ve heard a few people liken it to Nuremburg. I guess there comes a point where you have to either follow your ethics or save your own ass by following orders, and theres no excuses for the personal choice you make.

    Lil – I’m chuffed to be called wise, thank you 🙂 I thought it was against international laws to shoot medics/rescuers myself, even if they’re not wearing the medic vest.. It just seems very very wrong. In the opposite situation, if north korea or somewhere invaded us and their soldiers killed our civillians because they thought the bags they carried were bombs from far away, I doubt that we would accept it as just the rules of engagement.
    I’m never going to judge soldiers as a whole by the bad example of a few, but I can’t condone or agree with joining the army & entering a war. Its my personal belief that war is not worth the casualties & damage it creates. Thanks for explaining your side to us.

  4. Butch McBride Says:

    Does anyone remember what happened March of 1968? I’ll help you, My Lai happened or as some of us call it “Pink Ville”. The bad guys were a Platoon of US Army draftees and volunteers. Lead by a young Platoon Leader by the name of Lt Calley and a CO by the name of Captain Medina. The Hero was CWO Hugh Thompson. If you want to know the whole story, to the research.
    Crazyhorse one-eight had a two man crew and so did Crazyhorse one-nine.
    All four men should receive a General Court Martial asap. And don’t forget to charge Lt Col Ralph Kauzlarich with artical 134 of the UCMJ for starters.
    There must be a Congressional inquiry / investigation of “Kyle” his buddy and the other two trigger happy cowboys & the cover-up & the malfeasance & misfeasance etc. There has to be a “wrongful death” lawsuit here too!

  5. Andy Says:

    I’m the first one to advocate remaining pragmatic when it comes to viewing acts committed on the battlefield through the prism of their environment, but this is just an awful, evil act. Once someone ceases to be a threat, killing them is murder, plain and simple.

    The reality is, though, that no one who is truly responsible for this (and many other) unnecessary deaths will ever face any consequences for their actions. Instead, millions of people- and a complicit media- will revere them as heroes.

    It’s been said many times by many people, but if this war was waged to protect our values and beliefs it is undeniable that we have lost. A massive section of our people will now happily excuse, ignore, condone or even celebrate acts that thirteen years ago would have almost universally seen as abhorrent and barbaric.

    I hope you’re keeping well, Luli.

  6. LuLi Says:

    Butch – I don’t think much action will be taken sadly, and I’m sure there are many many worse infringements than this one. Just from hearing stories of Iraq veterans it sounds like this is mediocre compared with a lot of other incidents. It seems like unless you are unlucky enough to have yourself exposed to the media, then you will escape any judgment for killing civillians.

    Andy – I agree with all your points. Nothing will be done, and it is murder. I can’t understand how anyone could sanction murdering others and feel that it is a fine way to get anything accomplished in the world. Its such a ridiculous idea that the destroying of another humans life will take you one step closer to your goals. I’m disgusted by the way we’ve turned out. How bloodthirsty and reckless we are with the human population.

    Thanks Andy, I hope you and your family are all very happy and healthy 🙂

  7. JB Says:

    I’d like to answer your questions:

    <>

    Several of the people do have weapons. An RPG can take out a helicopter or any of those personnel carriers. Soldiers are allowed to defend themselves against perceived threats, just like a police officer or a private citizen. No one has offered an excuse for why the reporters were embedded with armed insurgents.

    <>

    There is no such thing. Not even police officers “shoot to wound.” Any bullet can be fatal, and aiming for a limb increases the chance of a miss. Also, a wounded person can continue to fight and can still fire a weapon. They remain a valid target unless they stop moving and surrender.

    <>

    Because the vehicle was not marked as an ambulance. Ambulances are prohibited targets, and this vehicle was not marked. Also, if an armed person gets inside such a vehicle, it is a lawful target. By aiding the wounded without wearing a Red Cross / Red Crescent, they violated their neutrality and became participants.

    <>

    Same as above. If you are a combatant, and you are attempting to rescue another combatant, you are still a valid target. If you are neutral, then you must wear a Red Cross or Red Crescent that shows everyone you are neutral medical personnel. By not identifying themselves with a distinguishing badge, they are in violation of the Geneva Conventions and have become what the Conventions call an “unlawful combatant.”

    <>

    They are in the company of armed insurgents, taking part in a battle, aiding the enemy wounded, and are not wearing any kind of identification that marks them as neutral medical personnel. They violated their claim to “innocence” by becoming participants.

    Here is how to avoid this in the future:

    1) If you are not taking part in the battle, don’t show up. Running around on a battlefield puts you in danger.

    2) If you are not medical personnel, don’t help the enemy wounded. Helping a combatant violates your neutrality.

    3) If you are neutral, wear a Red Cross or Red Crescent like you are supposed to. If you don’t have a Red Cross or Red Crescent, don’t participate in the battle.

    4) For the love of God, don’t bring your kids. Why would anyone allow their child to run around while people are being shot at?

    This incident is the result of the fact that they stopped being reporters and became participants. They deserved what they got.

  8. LuLi Says:

    Thanks for your comment! If people I knew were being attacked, I probably wouldn’t waste time looking for my red crescent vest, I’d just try to save them. And the kids weren’t running around, they were in the van. I don’t think anyone deserves to die. Have a good one, buddy.

  9. John Samford Says:

    “I don’t think anyone deserves to die. Have a good one, buddy.”

    Yet EVERYONE does. Nobody gets out of life alive. Anyone with a weapon is a legitimate target in a firefight. The crew of that Apache did nothing wrong. BTW, those were not journalists. Journalists, by the laws of war have to be imbedded, If they are not imbedded, they are spies. That is why Journalists die like flies in a combat zone. If they are imbedded, the troops they are with will keep them alive. Most of the time.
    LuLi, if you did, you would die, just as the fool in the video did. And if they had not stopped to pick up a wounded terrorist, they would not have been killed.
    War is brutal. It is the ultimate Darwin environment. You watch out for yourself and your buddies. Everyone else takes their own chances.
    I notice Assflange doesn’t go after the KGB, China or N. Korea. That proves Wikileaks is nothing but propaganda.

  10. John Samford Says:

    “Once someone ceases to be a threat, killing them is murder, plain and simple.”

    Andy, that is utter nonsense. Who decides when they are no longer a threat? You, 10,000 Km’s away watching a video or the man right there with a weapon who will die or be wounded if he guesses wrong?
    Did you ever hear the expression “All is fair in love or War.” While in theory that is no longer true, in practice it still is. Which is how it should be. If war wasn’t horrible, there would be many many more.
    Did you know that it is NOT a war crime to intentionally wound someone so you can kill those that come to his aid? Only when a medic shows up does that game end. You are pretty much clueless.
    My advice to you is surrender the first chance you get. Our enemy doesn’t take prisoners other then to behead on camera but who knows, you might get lucky.

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