September 06, 2010


"Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?" attributed to Groucho Marx. More common version of today "Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"
First, let me say that the feedback on 'ONLY FOLLOWING ORDERS' is very much appreciated - not only because it lets me know that time has been taken to read what I circulate, but also because, despite all my best efforts at researching and checking sources, there remains no guarantee that such information will always prove to be completely accurate and error-free. The internet certainly has more than its fair share of 'kooks' and 'agenda-pushers' of every possible political & religious persuasion - like any powerful tool it can be used toward positive or negative ends. As a proponent of free markets however, I am much more in favour of a system that allows for all points of view over one that relies on the ham-handed control of governmental censorship to filter out what thecommon folk are allowed to set their eyes on. Over time the free market of information has a way of sorting out the weeds from the wheat! How long we will continue to enjoy such unrestricted access is anyone's guess as major Western nations like Australia and very recently the UK have passed new censorship laws, while that 'bastion' of freedom, the USA provides for shutting the whole thing down via presidential proclamation.

You may or may not have noticed that the website titled  Collateral Murder provides both a short and a long version of the leaked video. In today's fast-paced world many people will not find the time to watch a video that is almost 40 minutes long and so both are provided with the short version focusing on the actual engagement under question. My subsequent research has failed to uncover any falsifying of the military video and any editing has been limited to the inclusion of subtitles (in light of the often hard-to-understand cockpit audio) together with some background on the press photographers caught up in this tragedy. It is worth noting that the military, which have already been involved in damage control since this was released about a week ago would have been quick to reveal any such problems. My advice to anyone with doubts is to take the time to view the full version (as I already have) in order to gain an appreciation for the wider context of this engagement. While it is right & proper to question the veracity and validity of information sourced over the internet, such healthy skepticism should not terminate beyond the search engines of your browser, but should extend also to the conventional news media and most definitely to governmental sources - the days of blind acceptance of whatever we are told are long gone!

Turning now to what transpired during the actual engagement, we can split the video into three segments for purposes of discussion - that is, unless we have now reached the point (already the case under many well-known repressive regimes), that any such discussion involving dissent with the official viewpoint is strictly  verboten (forbidden or prohibited). The first segment begins with the identification of a group of men (about 8 or so) with one or possibly two of them carrying weapons (whether for self-defense due to the general anarchy prevailing or for aggression against the invading force, we'll never really know). What we do know is that these men were seen to be walking around in a relaxed manner and at no time sought to engage the helicopter in question - unless you call pointing a Telephoto Lens camera as opposed to an RPG an engagement! Indeed, it is clear that these men (unless they were all imbeciles - which doubtless some would prefer to believe) felt themselves in no danger from the circling helicopter as they stopped to talk to each other with the one or two weapons held 'at ease'. They made no attempt to run or hide as the helicopter circled around and unloaded its automatic fire while most of the group were side on or with backs turned - I believe the popular term for this type of kill is 'like shooting fish in a barrel'. Now this is the perspective of a bystander. One must always take into account the perspective of either side caught up in the heat of a battle (often referred to as the fog of war). Certainly the outside force had information about an ongoing battle and upon checking with HQ were advised that there were no 'friendlies' in that area. Yes, there may have been some confusion about a telephoto lens resembling some sort of weapon and later in the video one of the shooters refers to an RPG being the cause for engaging. So, there exists some plausibility in the explanation given whilst involved in the heat of hostilities. Unfortunately dead men can tell no tales, making it difficult to establish their point of view.

Now we move to the second segment. This involves a panel van which arrives at the scene with three  unarmed men disembarking. In a non-threatening manner they proceed to pick up a wounded man (later discovered to be one of the photographers) in what can only be described as a mercy mission. After screaming obscenities at their command for delay in okaying their 'engagement' of these unarmed individuals, those within the helicopter then proceed to unload their full fire-power on all three (plus the wounded man) who perish in short order. Some have tried to justify such actions by stating that the van was not marked as an emergency vehicle as if that should matter. Shortly prior to this interchange, one of the helicopter shooters is heard goading the wounded man to "pick up a weapon" - no doubt so that his rules of engagement would allow him to finish off the job. What an inconvenience it must have been to have to await approval to be able to open fire on those defenseless would-be rescuers.

For those who take the time to watch the long version, there is a third segment involving the unleashing of two hellfire missiles into an apartment building into which 5 or 6 armed individuals had just entered. It was later established that there were civilians occupying this building who also perished in the attack, bringing into question the need for such indiscriminate lethal force - remember this is a city center, so that this would be as if a foreign invader blew up the apartment where you slept in Toronto, Miami or Minneapolis!

Running through all three segments of the leaked video are a few common threads. Firstly, at no time did any of the targeted individuals demonstrate aggression to the helicopter, or as far as we can tell other members of the invading force. Secondly, they clearly did not see themselves in any danger (as would be the case with any sane person involved in a battle) and all were fired upon either with their backs turned or side on with the aggressors. Finally, every one was killed (along with others) while there were zero casualties on the other side. Now, while there are serious questions surrounding the conduct displayed in segments one and three, the presence of weapons on both sides point to the need for an  independent inquiry into whether such actions are justifiable or not. Due consideration must be had for the beliefs expressed by the shooters that an RPG (a shoulder-mounted weapon, by the way) was in use and that the building targeted in segment three was abandoned or 'under construction'. With respect to segment two however, the unprovoked killing of three unarmed rescuers along with an unarmed wounded man is murder - plain and simple! No amount of rationalizations or labeling - as insurgents or otherwise - can ever change that.

Americans especially should be careful about that easily bandied-about word, insurgents. During the American Revolutionary war those who opposed the British army were labeled rebels and insurgents. Contrary to popular belief, every American was not automatically on the  home team. Wikipedia: "Historians have estimated that approximately 40–45% of the colonists actively supported the rebellion while 15–20% of the population of the thirteen colonies remained loyal to the British Crown. The remaining 35–45% attempted to remain neutral. At least 25,000 Loyalists fought on the side of the British". Such division is not uncommon among a native population who, while they may long to be rid of a tyrannical leader, may have even greater problems with an occupying force - more-so one that acts indiscriminately towards its inhabitants. Here is an interesting recent article concerning What can the American Revolutionary War teach us about the current war in Iraq?

Strange isn't it, that while people in the West are often frustrated at the reluctance or slowness of those in Middle Eastern countries to condemn acts of terrorism perpetrated against Westerners, they themselves are equally slow & reluctant to call their governments to account when the shoe is put onto the other foot? Or, does the term  terrorism only apply depending on who the perpetrator happens to be? Does the end justify the means?

For further background and insights into the entire incident I invite you to access these websites, detailing interviews with Wiki-leaks and with a veteran of the army unit involved:
The story behind the Wiki-Leaks 'Collateral Murder' video - The Week
Rob Kall Speaks to Veteran of "COLLATERAL MURDER" Company

No comments:

Post a Comment