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Media should focus more on war-crimes

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Posted: Thursday, April 15, 2010 12:05 am

Recently, a video was released by WikiLeaks from an unknown source showing the killing of Iraqi civilians by American troops from an Apache helicopter July 12, 2007.

Their excuse for firing the shots was they “mistook” a journalist’s camera for either an AK-47 or a rocket launcher, and they “thought” they might be insurgents. The horrendous 17-minute video shows real footage of the heinous crime that makes anybody with a true moral conscious question whether these “soldiers” were in a sane state of mind.

While watching the horrific video, I kept thinking these troops were acting like they were playing a video game. They were basically shooting at anything that moves.

According to more than one news source, the Apache helicopter killed 12 Iraqis and was equipped with Hellfire missiles and .30-caliber machine guns. Even when a minivan showed up to rescue the victims, shots were fired at the driver from the Apache helicopter.

I was outraged by the video — not necessarily shocked — because the U.S. Army has a history of slaying innocents and has always labeled it as “collateral damage.” Since the war started in Iraq, civilians — including journalists, farmers, doctors and children, to name a few — have been ambushed and caught in the line of fire by military forces.

Among the 12 Iraqis killed on that tragic day was Namir Noor-Eldeen, a prominent photojournalist who worked for Reuters.

Though he was only 22 when he was killed, friends and coworkers describe him as a well-respected, brave human being who left behind an incredible body of work that documents the reality of war in Iraq. Another victim was Saeed Chmagh, a Reuters driver and assistant. He was 40 years old and left behind a wife and four children. Along with the dozen deceased Iraqis, two children were wounded.

I could not help but think about these two human beings who had nothing to do with insurgency and did not even have weapons.

They were normal, hardworking men with families, values and passion for their profession. How come these acts of murder are not covered by the U.S. media? Why do so many Iraqi victims get killed this way and their stories go untold?

Don’t they deserve to be recognized and known for who they were, rather than be lumped together and become just a statistic?

Nobody can deny that these war crimes are serious violations of the Geneva Convention, and I defy anyone who says otherwise. These violators need to be put on trial; justice must be served. They owe it to the families of the deceased.

I am not surprised this did not get enough media coverage. When it was shown on the news, the footage was covered by a black box across the screen.

News reporters claimed it was out of respect for the victims’ families. I am sure their families want the world to see this shameful atrocity that led to the loss of their loved ones forever, but typical American media gives precedence to celebrity news over exposed government cover-ups and war crimes.

Teba Mohammad is a bilingual education graduate student.

Welcome to the discussion.

5 comments:

  • OldGator posted at 1:29 am on Tue, Apr 20, 2010.

    OldGator Posts: 36

    Teba my man, I'm quoting the New York Times in my comment. Even if we discount the quotes from the New York Times about Reuters embedding with insurgents you're still left with the fact that these two innocent people were tagging along with someone carrying an RPG. When you're walking around with someone with a rocket launcher bells should be going off in your head that you may not be picking the right people to follow and that you aren't putting yourself in the safest situation there is. As I said before, it's a tragedy that the journalist was killed, but you can't expect the Apache pilots to ignore the threat that someone with an RPG poses both to them and the ground forces in the area just because there's someone with a camera with him and it certainly doesn't amount to murder.

     
  • CavScout posted at 6:04 pm on Fri, Apr 16, 2010.

    CavScout Posts: 6

    Teba though your reply was passionate, it was far to emotional. It seems to me that you have a obvious hatred for the military and those who serve in it which, sadly, only discredits your point of view even more. Just because a select few soldiers have committed crimes in Iraq doesn't change the fact that most people in the military serve with distinction and honor. Has the US military committed war crimes yes, but most crimes are reported and people are put to justice. Of course everything America has done to the Iraqis is only a drop in the bucket compared to what Iraqis have done and continue to do to each other.

    As you mentioned, Abu Ghraib was definitely a stain on our militaries reputation. I for one was happy to see those soldiers go to jail for what they did. If you look at the broader picture though who really suffered? Yes some Iraqis there suffered and perhaps a few who were treated that way were innocent of their crimes but most I believe they were not in the wrong place at the wrong time but exactly where they needed to be. In the grand scope of things the amount of American soldiers lost because of a couple Jackasses with a camera is absolutely heavier on the scale.

    "Was this also by “mistake” or were they also “in the wrong place at the wrong time?” I can go on forever about this topic and show you facts and figures and put you in touch with Iraqis who can give you personal accounts about this as well as provide you with countless blogs of Iraqis who blogged about the war from 2003 on a daily basis."

    I'd like to take you up on your offer. Please, I'd love to meet you at a public and calm place here in Gainesville where we can discuss the political problems of Iraq and the War on Terror. I'll send my email to the editor if you want and hopefully they will pass it on to you. I hope you can find peace within all that hatred that is carried in you.

     
  • TebaGator posted at 4:34 pm on Fri, Apr 16, 2010.

    TebaGator Posts: 1

    To the first: Saying that Reuters embeds journalists with insurgency is absurd. There is no evidence that these 2 guys who worked for Reuters and were killed had any connection to insurgency. One was a Photojournalist and the other was his assistant/driver. Namir Noor-Eldeen had a mission of documenting what was really happening in Iraq to get the truth out so we can see through his lens what the American military was really doing. So don't try to cover this crime up and pretend those guys in the Apache were peaceful and did not "mean" to shoot the 12 Iraqis.

    How do you explain the fact that they kept shooting at a man who was crawling on the ground because he was shot and couldn't walk? Are you seriously trying to tell me these Iraqis were armed? Clearly the guys in the Apache were treating the situation like they were playing X-Box, hoping to shoot the target!

    To the second comment: first, maybe I should mention to you that I am I
    raqi, and have followed the war since the very beginning until now through many contacts who are actually in Iraq, I think this makes me very knowledgeable about the military and war, I am not "pretending" to be an expert. My mission as a human, an Iraqi and a writer, is to expose the truth, to inform and educate as much as I can because this is something I feel strongly about and feel the media does not give full honest converge that is even close to the truth. The problem with commentators like yourself is you are so close-minded and unwilling to acknowledge the other side. Just admit the American military is responsible for a big chunk of war crimes. I know this as a fact and so many Americans I have met and talked to admit it too. When the war started, I protested, gave talks against the war and was very active in speaking out and educating people about Iraq. You know how many Americans applauded me and agreed with me and actually told me that they are ashamed to be American? Some even apologized to me for what their government has done to Iraq!

    So please, don't try to sugar coat what the reality is and give excuses, because there are plenty more cases that happened in Iraq where Iraq civilians were purposely targeted, humiliated, forced out of their homes, raped, murdered and abused by American military, a perfect example is Abu Ghraib, which I can write a book about because of the amount of degrading abuse and humiliation Iraqis endured at the hands of the American military. Was this also by “mistake” or were they also “in the wrong place at the wrong time?” I can go on forever about this topic and show you facts and figures and put you in touch with Iraqis who can give you personal accounts about this as well as provide you with countless blogs of Iraqis who blogged about the war from 2003 on a daily basis. Even some American soldiers who were based in Iraq couldn’t do it anymore and have blogged about wanting out because they couldn’t take it anymore. If you really want to know the truth, I am sure you can use your computer skills and look for it, but maybe you don't want to expose yourself to the truth and instead choose to stay brainwashed. Either way, I wish you peace and hope you will be open to the truth.

     
  • CavScout posted at 12:45 pm on Fri, Apr 16, 2010.

    CavScout Posts: 6

    Rules of Engagement or ROE is depicted mostly around the threats that a certain Area of Operations (AO) present. Being the fact that prior to the beginning of the video that coalition forces had been engaged the ROE changes. Understand this, if Coalition forces had not been engaged prior and the Apaches had seen this group of arm individuals (minus the Journalists and collaborators that were also present) that most likely the ground unit would of been sent to cautiously investigate rather than the Apaches just engaging. Secondly camera men are used extensively by the enemy to document there attacks on coalition forces, even if the pilots had recognized the journalists holding cameras instead of AKs it wouldn't have changed the ROE. They would've been engaged regardless as still apart of an insurgent group.

    What happened is tragic but to accuse these Army pilots of murder is ridiculous. The Reuters journalists where killed by mistaken identity and even more so of just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There's no way the Apache pilots could've known who they where looking at.

    Lets look at it from the pilots view, this is what they know:

    1. They been called to support a US unit thats been engaged and is currently looking for the enemy combatants in New Baghdad, which by the way is one of the few AOs in Iraq that is still consistently hostile to coalition forces.

    2. They see armed individuals gathering near the described location of the attack.

    3. They are given clearance by the ground commander to engage.

    So now because they did there murders? Hardly, this is war Teba and before you decide to pretend to be a military/war expert because you saw a 40 minute video, maybe you should bite your tongue and get an idea of what your talking about first, instead of asking the world to punish justified soldiers.

     
  • OldGator posted at 1:10 am on Thu, Apr 15, 2010.

    OldGator Posts: 36

    Reuters embeds some of their journalists in Iraq with insurgents. That's how they get that "great documentation". If you're going to follow around terrorists you have to realize that you are putting yourself in danger because the pilots can't ignore the very real risk posed to them by someone with an RPG just because someone with a camera happens to be following them. And they were tagging along with someone with an RPG. To quote from a former soldier with extensive experience analyzing aerial footage (by way of the New York Times): "At 3:39, the men central to the frame are armed, the one on the far left with some AK variant, and the one in the center with an RPG. The RPG is crystal clear even in the downsized, very low-resolution, video between 3:40 and 3:45 when the man carrying it turns counter-clockwise and then back to the direction of the Apache."

    The Times quotes another former officer as not just accusing Reuters of embedding with insurgents but stating that "Reuters was notorious for hiring insurgents to obtain 'news' for them."

    Find the quotes for yourself here: http://atwar.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/04/07/reaction-on-military-blogs-to-the-wikileaks-video/