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Wikileaks, the website devoted to publishing classified documents on the Internet, made a splash today with a video claiming to show that the U.S. military "murdered" a Reuters cameraman and other Iraqi "civilians" in Baghdad on July 12, 2007. But a careful watching of the video shows that the U.S. helicopter gun crews that attacked a group of armed men in the then Mahdi Army stronghold of New Baghdad was anything but "Collateral Murder," as Wikileaks describes the incident.
The release of the Iraq video is drawing attention to the once-fringe Web site, which aims to bring to light hidden information about governments and multinational corporations — putting secrets in plain sight and protecting the identity of those who help do so. Accordingly, the site has become a thorn in the side of authorities in the United States and abroad. With the Iraq attack video, the clearinghouse for sensitive documents is edging closer toward a form of investigative journalism and to advocacy.
“That’s arguably what spy agencies do — high-tech investigative journalism," Julian Assange, one of the site’s founders, said in an interview on Tuesday. “It’s time that the media upgraded its capabilities along those lines.”
Mr. Assange, an Australian activist and journalist, founded the site three years ago along with a group of like-minded activists and computer experts. Since then, WikiLeaks has published documents about toxic dumping in Africa, protocols from Guantánamo Bay, e-mail messages from Sarah Palin’s personal account and 9/11 pager messages.
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A 2008 report by the US Army suggests that WikiLeaks, which on Tuesday published a video that shows US forces apparently killing two Iraqi journalists, could be a threat to national security. The website has released sensitive information in the past, the report notes.
So what's the truth of this event? Investigations will follow. Still capitated heads may roll. Truth will be elusive, as always.
I've seen a fair number of people killed in countries at war, including combatants, journalists and civilians. Even at ground level, though, in the midst of bone and blood spray, sorting things out is near impossible.
I am sure of one thing: tragedy aside, this is all good for us in the bigger sense, starting with the video release. Transparency is the victor here. More information and even more yelling back and forth gives everyone more data and opportunity to make up their own minds. And it keeps life-and-death topics like war fully in the bull's-eye heat of aggressive social interaction.
That's what's really changed since my war correspondent days. No one today has to be a passive non-combatant in the important moments of our culture.
Good account here ... too long and good to pick and paste ... read it.
On Tuesday, the Pentagon made public a partially redacted report on the incident that concluded the Apache attackers had no way of knowing the journalists were among suspected insurgents on the street.
"It must be noted that details which are readily apparent when viewed on a large video monitor are not necessarily apparent to the Apache pilots during a live-fire engagement," the report said, adding that the pilots viewed the scene on a much smaller screen while trying to fly safely and look for enemy insurgents.
From that perspective, the journalists' cameras looked like weapons carried by the suspected insurgents, including rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles, according to the report. In addition, the journalists lacked any distinctive clothing or markings to distinguish themselves from the combatants, the report said.
You know that disturbing video of U.S. helicopters shooting civilians and journalists in Iraq leaked by Wikileaks? Turns out the Pentagon couldn't have released it even if they wanted to. They have no idea where their copy is. According to an AP report:
Capt. Jack Hanzlik, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said that the military has not been able to locate the video within its files after being asked to authenticate the version available online.
"We had no reason to hold the video at (Central Command), nor did the higher headquarters in Iraq," Hanzlik said in an e-mailed statement. "We're attempting to retrieve the video from the unit who did the investigation."
And on Tuesday, when questions were raised about why the Pentagon didn't release the video itself at the time it issued its official report, "officials said they were still looking for it and weren't entirely sure where it was."
An investigation into the 2007 killing in Baghdad of 12 civilians -- including two employed by the Reuters news agency -- by soldiers firing from a U.S. Army helicopter revealed that there were some weapons with the group, NPR's Tom Bowman reported today on Morning Edition. Investigators said there was an assault rifle, rocket propelled grenades and an RPG launcher, Tom says.
But a video of the incident, which was leaked yesterday, still shows the "horrific" nature of war and the danger to civilians, Tom adds. At one point, a van that turned out to have at least two children inside was fired on by the helicopter crew.
Re: Wikileaks - Editing Murder? Shaping Media Coverage?
As much as I find all today's journalism, i.e. we try people in the press and not in a court of law.. the pentagon admitted the video was authentic. Not sure how they define authentic, either that the video was actual footage or the innocents were killed.
It is comparable to the Breitbard/O'Keefe highly edited videos, that many believed...
Reminds me of the naked girl running down the street in Viet Nam, after her home was bombed... unfortunately for the victims, that type of press can mobilize folks into action... it is the collateral damage thing.
WASHINGTON — A gritty war video circulating on the Internet that shows U.S. troops firing repeatedly on a group of men — some of whom were unarmed — walking down a Baghdad street is authentic, a senior U.S. military official confirmed Monday.
The official said the video posted at Wikileaks.org was of a July 12, 2007, firefight involving Army helicopters in the New Baghdad District of eastern Baghdad.
“We like to say that dependability is more important than ability,” Bill Belichickism....