I'm an American. Today Wikileaks has released a video that is difficult to watch. It raises my blood pressure. Emotionally it's infuriating. I'm trying to hold a rational position to understand how this could happen and consequently what is wrong and how do we fix it. I'm not a soldier. I've never been a soldier. So my questions are clearly from ignorance, and that's part of why I want to discuss it. So if you are a soldier, or have been and can explain, please engage. For those whom would want to react, please allow the discussion to happen. I'm in shock myself, I'd just like to make sense of this.

The story can be found here along with a 17 minute video. The basics are Reuters has some journalists gathering and about to go out on assignment in "New Baghdad". They are assembled and the camera bags strike some attack helicopter pilots as AK-47's. They only see the shoulder straps and clearly no weapon, but identification is swift. The immediately request permission to engage and fire upon the group. As they are getting permission one photographer leans around a corner kneeling down and is snapping pictures. They identify it as an RPG. As they circle back around they unload killing everyone. The sole reason is the shoulder straps look like AK-47's. 

Again, not a soldier, I don't know how it is. But is this really the level of interaction that is needed for our Rules of Engagement to permit firing on a unknown group? Would we be better off with a stricter standard or would that endanger our soldiers? It strikes me that we are there to free the Iraqi's but if a shoulder strap is worthy of the death penalty, what have we freed them from? Can't we do better? 

There is much more to this story. I don't want to blather on while you can see it in the video. How can you reconcile this video with what you would have us doing over there? Who isn't bothered by this and why? I'm not looking to judge you. I'm asking in hopes of understanding and not over-reacting. It's been a while since I could feel my blood pressure raise due to a video. At minute 10, I was flush and angry, and saddened, and embarrassed. I need help to understand this..

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I think the "shock" of this video is a little out of control. I mean it is WAR and people die. I am by no means agreeing that innocent people should die at war but they do. Watch any documentry on WWII and it is horrible! Berlin, fucking horrible, not this. It may have been an accident or not but just because our technology allows us to "see it all" does it seem so wrong. War is dirty and it isn't gonna get better. if Wikileaks showed the Russians raping 10,000 women in Berlin would you have said we shouldn't have fought that war?
Whoa not excusing it is just hard to judge people in a situation like that without being there. If it were you what would you have done? You can not say cause you have not spent years fighting a war with civilians firing at you out of nowhere who turn out to be insurgents. I am just not one to judge, that is all.
WWII was very well documented but that kind of stuff was not shown to the mass public for decades, You just had no way of really knowing what was going on at the present time, you only knew what they told you. Now in our era of technology with the click of a mouse you can see almost anything. It has always been like this at war and the saddest part is that that can not change. I am all for reasonable talking and negotiating but when the people you are fighting are NOT reasonable (islam radicals) this is what it comes down to. Shit happens and we all pay the price for war, you want to drive your car on their oil this is the price we pay, You want the land you live on? Ask the native americans about how you got it. Someone always pays a terrible price at war usually both sides. I wander how many videos there are of innocent American troops getting mowed down out of nowhere? Everyone acts like they didn't know war is war. America does bad stuff also! Sorry it took this video for America to relise this.
I don't think that any of us denied that there were things out there we wouldn't approve of. I assumed that the rules were stricter than he has a black line on his shoulder, shoot him. To make matters worse, the clear and obvious attempts to sweep it under the rug is not our open policy. We are to be an open government. If the policy of the gov is to shoot people for black lines on their shoulders, anywhere in the world, you will not find a majority of Americans supporting that.
As for getting the oil, they want to sell it and we are the number one customer. The only issue is do we want American Corporations reaping the largess of the profits. My gut reaction is not this way. We as a citizenry are responsible for the action of our government. That's why this makes my stomach turn.
Reminds me a little of this video.

Can you imagine the horror of the pilot of an AH-64 Longbow who unloads a Maverick into an M1A1 Abrams thinking its an enemy tank?

There's no rationalization for this. It just happens. Soldiers are taught to identify and shoot or risk not coming home at all. All this talk about joint movements and soldiers of the future and hi tech intel gathering is just a crock of crap. These things will continue to happen even with the best technology.
These guys are way too eager to kill people that are of no immediate threat to them. And when people are that eager to kill, they will find a reason to do it. Mistakes are one thing, or reacting erroneously in the face of a threat, but this is neither. The vehicle moving bodies and weapons was moving an injured person only, as far as I can tell. These guys saw what they wanted to see, reported that, and were cleared to engage.

"it's their fault for bringing their kids to a battle". Classy quote.
I am ex-military and thought I'd chime in.

I can't speak to whether these guys were "way too eager to kill people..." and in all honesty neither can you. I do agree with most of your last sentence though. These guys saw what they thought they saw (whether intentional or not), reported that, and were cleared to engage. This is all part of the "fog of war". In this fog perceptions get altered, communication can break down, ...you name it and it can go wrong; and in this case it did, badly.

Given that, I did know people in the Army that definitely had a screw loose and actively wanted to kill...anything. These people are a danger to everybody and for the most part were removed (not always).

War is government sanctioned murder. Everyone needs to very clear about that. It cannot be entered into lightly...which is why I hate Bush with all my heart. I do feel there are times when it is necessary, but Iraq was definitely not one of those. The worst thing you can do to a soldier is to send them into battle for nothing, absolutely nothing like Iraq. All those lives; soldiers, soldiers families, Iraqis...it breaks my heart.
Thanks for your perspective.

My comment that they were "way too eager to kill" stems from a culmination of events on the tape, but is really puncuated by the earnestness in the pleading of the gunner to be granted permission to engage.

Granted, there is much we don't know about this whole situation, but there are definitely parts of it that need no context to be understood. Especially the part where the van stopped to help a wounded man. That was wholly deplorable.

War is government sanctioned murder. Everyone needs to very clear about that. It cannot be entered into lightly...which is why I hate Bush with all my heart. I do feel there are times when it is necessary, but Iraq was definitely not one of those. The worst thing you can do to a soldier is to send them into battle for nothing, absolutely nothing like Iraq. All those lives; soldiers, soldiers families, Iraqis...it breaks my heart.

I agree with this completely.
Did anyone see any decent coverage of this on TV tonight? I didn't catch it anywhere on TV. Maddow covered a Afghanistan Special Forces shooting but I didn't see this anywhere.
I saw an NPR story on a news aggregator. Don't watch TV much.
I didn't see it. It might not be on any of the 24 hr. news networks until tomorrow because of the whole Tiger Woods thing. Apparently, Tiger Woods coming back to golf is considered newsworthy.




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