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.