Gates assails Internet group over attack video

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:00pm EDT

This image captured from a classified U.S. military video footage shows a van being attacked by U.S. Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff on July 12, 2007 and released to Reuters on April 5, 2010 by WikiLeaks, a group that promotes leaking to fight government and corporate corruption. REUTERS/WikiLeaks/Handout

This image captured from a classified U.S. military video footage shows a van being attacked by U.S. Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff on July 12, 2007 and released to Reuters on April 5, 2010 by WikiLeaks, a group that promotes leaking to fight government and corporate corruption.

Credit: Reuters/WikiLeaks/Handout

Related Topics

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates criticized the Internet group Wikileaks on Tuesday over its release of a video showing a 2007 U.S. helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff.

The group, which says it promotes leaks to fight government and corporate corruption, released the video without providing any context explaining the situation, Gates said.

"These people can put out anything they want, and they're never held accountable for it. There's no before and there's no after," Gates said.

The stark helicopter gunsight video of the July 12, 2007, attack has been widely viewed around the world on the Internet since its release on April 5.

Some international law and human rights experts say the Apache helicopter crew in the footage may have acted illegally. The video includes an audio track of a helicopter crew conversation. Many have been shocked by the images and some of the fliers' comments.

The U.S. military said an investigation shortly after the incident found U.S. forces were unaware of the presence of news staff and thought they were engaging armed insurgents, mistaking a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

"We take these things seriously," Gates said, in reference to civilian casualties.

The Reuters staff killed in the attack were photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chamagh, 40.

Wikileaks disputed Gates' contention the video failed to provide context. In an e-mail, it accused the U.S. military of making "numerous false or misleading statements," including the contention there was an active firefight between U.S. forces and those killed.

"Classified records which we will shortly release show that there was a report of small arms fire at 9:50 a.m., somewhere in the suburb of New Baghdad, shooter and location UNIDENTIFIED. There is no reference to U.S. forces having been hit by the fire. The same records report that at 10:18, 28 minutes later, the crowd was seen and the killing commenced."

The e-mail was unsigned but was sent from the press office e-mail of Wikileaks.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart and Deborah Zabarenko, Editing by Howard Goller and Peter Cooney)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (18)
Groovester wrote:
I think it important for people to see what kinds of things the US Military is up to in the “War”. When people see something like this, it brings home why, exactly, the rest of the world is starting to hate the US…

Apr 13, 2010 5:59pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Majick1 wrote:
Shocking! War isn’t a prom dance, it’s KILL or DIE. War is about death and the loser quits when they decide they don’t want anymore of their own to die. The Apache crew was doing the job they were ordered to do and found themselves staring down the barrel of a weapon they thought could end their lives. Don’t put any blame on them, it rests on the person who gave them the OK to fire. Start with him/her and find out why they were not notified of a camera crew being in the area. Gates is pissed off because he couldn’t put his spin on it and lead the cover up.
Wake up people, our military personnel in the thick of the fight, are willing to give their lives for us at home so don’t blame them if their boss screws up. The soldier with his/her finger on the trigger keeps us safe and free, not the officers tucked safely away polishing their medals, issuing orders and taking credit for winning the war.
I am sorry to hear that innocent lives were lost but that shows the terrible communication our soldiers need to put up with each day.
I say Thank you and come home safe.

Apr 13, 2010 6:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
KampungCowboy wrote:
Its rather disconcerting that the US Defence Secretary is more concerned about having the cover up blown, than he is about the War Crimes shown in the video.

To paraphrase Mr. Gates “These people (The US Military) can kill who ever they want, and they’re never held accountable for it. There’s no before and there’s no after”

Apr 13, 2010 6:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.