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From the Cockpit: Journalists Killed by Apache Helicopter Crew

April 7th, 2010

apache1apache2The other morning the NY Times posted an article about the death of two Reuters journalists. Apparently Reuters had been using the Freedom of Information Act, since the journalists’ 2007 deaths, to gain access to after-action reports and the gun camera footage which, finally, was released. A military whistle-blower leaked it to WikiLeaks.org, who then broke the encryption and published it.

Here is the New York Times Article
Here is the WikiLeaks page CollateralMurder.
Here is the NY Times Lens Blog post by war photographer Michael Kamber.
Here is a chat at the Washington Post.
The New Yorker on the Rules of Engagement.
The Huffingtonpost says the military is unable to find the video.

From what I’ve read, there were weapons on-scene, but no one was in a hostile stance. That day, and that area, was also “hot” with firefights. The two journalists, who were on another story, did their job and went there to investigate reports of the fighting. I wasn’t there, so mine is armchair opinion, but I feel the Apache crews should have taken more time to identify the threat. As for their callous remarks, the edited video is pretty harsh, but the full video shows some regret on their part. The reality is, we train soldiers to kill–and then cope with it.

This is a brutal video, but I’m glad it’s in the public, if for no other reason than for us to know. I think, if anything is to be taken from their deaths and the military’s refusal to release the footage, is that we need more transparency in government–especially in a time of war when the American public can make it all too easy to ignore the combat. It’s disrespectful to the soldiers, the countries we’ve invaded and are trying to rebuild, to the civilians who are “collateral damage,” and to the journalists who work hard, and in great jeopardy, to report on the wars. Freedom of information is essential to self-policing, to protecting our democracy, and is something a responsible public must engage in.

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