Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh Killings Video

A few years ago, Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, working for Reuters in Iraq, were killed along with several other non-military personnel in a very badly botched US military operation. Much more recently, Wikileaks has released the half hour long video taken from one of the US helicopters involved in the massacre.

You need to go here and read the story, and watch the long version of the video (pasted below). Especially if you are a tax-paying US citizen, because this is your war. This is you pulling the trigger.

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No, it is not my war. Obama had more than a year to withdraw the troops.

Counting the time between the initial burst - when the video from the gun cam blurs - and the arrival of the bullets as noted by the dust at impact and the peoples reaction, the Apache gunship would have been approximately 1 Kilometer distant when engaged.

Caliber: 30x113mm Action: Chain gun Rate of fire: 625 rpm Muzzle velocity: 805 m/s (2,641 ft/s) Effective range: 1,500 m (1,640 yd) Maximum range: 4,500 m (4,920 yd)

High Explosive, Dual Purpose M789. The M789 HEDP is an antimateriel and antipersonnel round. The projectile body is steel and is loaded with a 340 grain (.76 ounce) explosive charge and a spin compensated shaped charge liner that has a PD (M759) fuze. The cartridge case is aluminum. The fuze arms while the projectile is in flight and initiates the projectile's explosive filler upon impact. The shaped charge liner collapses with detonation that creates an armor piercing jet. Fragmentation of the projectile body also occurs that can produce antipersonnel effects within a 4-meter radius. Estimated penetration performance was interpolated from a graph contained in a gun system effectiveness report. This report reflected penetration in excess of 2.0 inches (50 mm) RHA at 2,500 meters.

By Bill James (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

Alex, sorry, but you don't get off with your political and social responsibility being the casting of a single vote. Do you avoid benefiting from all that one benefits from in the way of petroleum products from the near east? Do you actively protest against the war? Do you refuse to pay your tax?

Your war, Alex.

Bill, your point being what exactly? And is all that italics intended? That despite having as much time as they needed and outstanding optical equipment they could not tell what they were shooting at so it was OK?

So, what am I supposed to do to "refuse to pay my tax", subscribe to teabaggers? Obama was supposed to be different, but in fact he is the same puppet of big oil companies as Bush was. (by the way, we do not "benefit" in the form of cheap oil products; the oil companies do, and we pay arm and leg).

Bill, your point being what exactly?

Informative.

And is all that italics intended?

I'm quoting another source. The italics differentiate those words from my own. As do the block quotes.

That despite having as much time as they needed and outstanding optical equipment they could not tell what they were shooting at so it was OK?

I have made no statements in opinion, nor by passing along this observation including ballistic and other information on background, have implied either approval or disapproval.

That said, I was curious about the Iraqi general lack of concern while completely oblivious to their targeting. They were milling around as people often do when something happens in the distance. In this instance either unaware or dismissive of a helicopter gunship on station approximately 1 Kilometer away. Something that is most probably a familiar sight for them.

Secondly, I was also curious about the capability of the weapon. Effectiveness was apparent, but therein the number of rounds expended at that distance in conjunction with accuracy, the amount of dust created and the number of kills that were not direct hits or how anyone could be wounded without missing entire body parts. We now know the projectiles used were of an exploding type with an effective kill or wound radius of 4 meters.

Having looked for this information, I decided to share since it answers some questions while raising others. It also tends to fill gaps in understanding and thus our frames of reference.

You may take it for what it's worth to you.

By Bill James (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

Bill: Interesting, I had some of the same questions in mind. There are points in the video when they scan back and you can see that the choppers are way far away.

I did spend a week under the watchful eyes of a group of Cobra attack helicopters ranging about a kilometer or two away, and you dod tend to go about your business at some point.

Jennings:

Unless I'm mistaken, and as has been observed at Pharyngula, the point is that those troops weren't in any danger, even if the now long dead individual human beings were indeed carrying RPG's rather than long lens camera's. Apparently, RPG's have a maximum range of 800m and they are notoriously inaccurate (roughly 4% at that range).

So, even in the "best case scenario" for the military â the people on the ground were in possession of guns, as well as RPG's, and they were aiming the RPG at someone/something (which is all contested, and certainly not entirely clear from the video) â there was absolutely no justification for gunning them down without a lot more investigation and a level of certainty that they were a real danger (and even then I would say that they would need to be actually shooting at people).

Of course, I don't even need to mention that shooting up the van which contained two children (which, to be fair, the military probably didn't know about at the time, but that is all the more reason to be as certain as possible that you know what you are shooting at) and the adult driver who had stopped because he wanted to take the injured to hospital (he was originally taking his two children to see a tutor) is absolutely unjustifiable no matter what the first group had been up to.

As I've said, I could be wrong, but that would be the reason that I would highlight how far away the helicopter was.

Actually, when the man with the "RPG" launcher pointed his "launcher" around the corner it was obviously a video camera. It was impossible for these flyboys to have made a mistake like this. They knew they were shooting unarmed civilians and did not care at all.

Bevy:

I agree. When the helicopter pans back round, just before they opened fire, you could see that no-one was holding an RPG and that one or perhaps two were instead holding long lens cameras.

My point was simply that the excuse that they mistook the camera for an RPG was not a sufficient reason to shoot them, for any number of reasons.

If only it were that cut and dry, but it's not.

Knowing ahead of time that the weapons were actually cameras with telephoto lenses, we look at the video and see cameras with telephoto lenses when it was not at all clear.

By the same token, when the Apache crew viewed the video they seen AK47's and rocket launchers. It is what they expected to see and what the brain interpreted as such. They "knew" beyond doubt what they were shooting at. Or so they thought at the time.

Through the gun camera at great distance, blurry objects were discerned as AK47's and rocket launchers and therefore those people were insurgents as was the people in the van giving aid to insurgents if not insurgents themselves. The same insurgents most likely they had engaged earlier in the same general location and within the rules of engagement appropriately enough, the objective was to kill them which they did.

What we have here I strongly suspect is the brain playing "fill in the blanks" with deadly consequence. Whether we realize it or not, it is what the brain does a great deal of the time. It extrapolates information based on bits and pieces in current observation along with that stored in memory.

For example we can visualize the blind side of a three dimensional object because we have seen the hidden side before and can often describe it with great clarity. So too we can recognize an object by its general shape, outline or shadow if found in relation to expectations dictated by prior observations. A brain function that is not always accurate.

With little doubt there be others here who can explain it better than I.

By Bill James (not verified) on 06 Apr 2010 #permalink

Once you've watched this video, or maybe even before you do, I would urge all to take a look at this link at Andrew Sullivan's blog where a reader responds. His point of view, I think, is valid and should color the way we all look at wars fought in our name (whether we agree with them or not). The one thing that stands out in all of this is that we are not being served well by our media in this country. They are not asking the hard questions about what is done in our name. They are supposed to be forcing sunlight on our government and we are not demanding that they do their job. We're much too interested in bar fights and gossip.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2010/04/the-lies-o…

Yeah, Alex, it's your war. And my war. And everybody's war. America is a team game and we all benefit when we win and we all bear the brunt of losing. You're either a participant or a freeloader.

We should know what's going on where our armed forces are taking lives and shedding blood. We asked all these young men and women to go to war for us and we need to take responsibility for that. We should know how they kill and how they die. We should at least be able to face up to the realities of the conflict, whether we agree on why they're there or not.

T. Hunt

I have to agree with Bill, in that the initial shooting was a screw-up, but a comprehensible screw-up. The kind of screw-ups that are inevitable in wars. (Which means you should only go to war when the objectives justify risking such screw-ups.)

Shooting up the van, though, I don't understand. At no point were any of the people brandishing weapons (or anything that resembled weapons). I heard the pilots apparently worried that the people were trying to retrieve the wounded and their 'weapons'. But there was no sign that the people in the van had actually picked up any objedts, or were doing anything but a med-evac.

Now, I can see pilots being worried that the site would be 'cleaned' and the weapons removed, making it look like a massacre instead of a skirmish. (Understand, I'm trying to take the pilots' point of view here.) But do the rules of engagement actually allow them to shoot people who are 'stealing evidence'?

In 2008, Bush and the Republicans were kicked out of the White House, and one of the main reason was that the people were extremely angry about these unjust and costly wars.
Now, when "our" guy is the President, you want me to suddenly forget about the issues and say "my war" and "hail to the Chief"? Thank you very much, but my brain functions have not sufficiently degenerated for this.

I understand that there is likely much more context involved that may shed a different light on this incident (which works both ways, by the way), and that it can reasonably be argued that the initial shooting was perhaps "understandable", even if it was a mistake. But if you can excuse that incident, which, whether you mean to or not, has the general affect of eliciting an "oh, what a shame....oooh, dancing on ice is coming on" in a great many people, then that same excuse can be used in almost all cases, no matter how many innocent people are and have been killed in very similar circumstances. Unless there are real standards that we can all understand and generally agree with, any incident can be excused, no matter how blatant.

The government and the military have become expert at covering these kinds of incidents up, and war has become so desensitized, secretive, and normalized in the minds of a lot of people, that even the most obvious and egregious examples of malpractice are amenable to being "managed" and then eventually forgotten, as if nothing had ever happened. But those innocent people are still dead.

At what point do we all start to wonder how many more incidents like this, and perhaps much worse, have been dishonestly and dishonorably kept secret? Do we even care, anymore? I'm uncomfortable with the idea of killing even people who wish to kill others (which is why I don't support the death penalty), but what worries me is that we are all being conditioned to excuse wrong doing, bad behavior, and in some instances, cold blooded murder of entirely innocent people, under the guise of "war is hell", and "support the troops", and for fear of disrespecting people who admittedly have a very hard and stressful job.

But that isn't a reason for me to ignore the deaths of innocent human beings, because that could have been my own mother (not that it should matter, but it does). It's difficult, I admit, but that is all the more reason to be outraged at the fact that we are being systematically lied to. Without knowing what is real, we have no choice but to react on insufficient evidence. The only other alternative is to continue to believe what demonstrably dishonest people are telling us, all in the name of "patriotism".

Of course, I don't even need to mention that shooting up the van which contained two children (which, to be fair, the military probably didn't know about at the time, but that is all the more reason to be as certain as possible that you know what you are shooting at)

I cannot confirm this, as I have not watched the video yet. But others have reported that the pilots in the recording actually note that there are children. Is this not accurate?

I cannot confirm this, as I have not watched the video yet. But others have reported that the pilots in the recording actually note that there are children. Is this not accurate?

When a ground team arrived after the fact, children were found in the van and they could be seen in the gun cam as as the soldiers carried them out. Comments were made.

By Bill James (not verified) on 07 Apr 2010 #permalink

Alex, do you also recycle? And if so, do you consider that sufficient?

I worked for Gore. I worked for Kerry. I worked for Obama. I worked for the guy running against Bachmann (a little). I worked for my local liberal guy running for congress (lost). I worked for Franken. I worked for Franken again (recount). I've written about the connections between wars and personal comfort in the US in a critial way.

I feel like I've done one tenth of what I should be doing (and maybe a fifth of what I could be doing) and I recognize that it is my war. You don't get to be a US citizen a nd pretend it is not your war.

It is your war, Alex. Suck it up.

Wasn't two years ago this war called "Bush's war"? Or "Cheney's war"? Yes, it was, and it was termed this way to underscore that THIS WASN'T OUR WAR. What changed? The guy at the Oval Office. So, like the Orwellian sheep, we are now supposed to chant "Baaa, Bush's war bad, Obama's war good", right??? This is no more my war now than it was two years ago, Greg, and I don't care who sits in the Oval Office. Suck it up.

Alex, I'm not saying that is WAS Bush's war, then Obama's war and now it's Alex's war. I'm saying that it is our war, your's mine, everybody's. Those are our fellow citizens, it is our country's policy, it is our army, any cost of this war is shared by all of us (somewhat unevenly) and the benefits are shared by all of us (somewhat unevenly).

I'm not saying it is your fault, but you know, down deep, after you suck it up and all, that is is your war.

That's me pulling the trigger? Don't think so. I wouldn't have missed that many times. But seriously, your argument really sucks. Were all Iraqis responsible for the invasion of Kuwait? And as much as I'd like to pick up and move to a different country, and learn a different language ever time my government does something I don't like. It's not really an option. Just like everyone else. Find some better emotive psycho-babble.

By Martin Wright (not verified) on 11 Apr 2010 #permalink

You guys are hilarious.