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  1. #1
    Fanatic Enthusiast Bari's Avatar


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    Collateral Murder

    Saw some news stories about this, and decided to look into it. The main story is that on July 12, 2007, there was a photographer journalist with his drivers in a group of people in Baghdad. The rest of the group consisted of a few other people with what legitimately looked like AK-47s, and a guy with what looked like an RPG. They were in the area of some American troops, and were seen as a threat. An American Apache was flying in the area monitoring them, and when the noticed the weapons they asked for permission to engage, which they were granted.

    The Apache engaged the group, and essentially cut them all down. The ironic part, is that the only two people not killed in the initial burst of fire were the driver and the photographer. The photographer is seen running off in one direction, before he is gunned down, and then the driver runs off in another direction, before he is hit as well. The driver doesn't die, and attempts to crawl further away from the group, and the helicopter does not fire on him again.

    A van shows up minutes later, and the helicopter crew believes they have come to gather the wounded and the weapons dropped by the others. They stop to pick up the journalist's driver, the helicopter calls in for permission to engage again, and they end up firing on the van, destroying it. To add onto the controversy, two children were inside the van when it was fired on, and both were wounded. American soldiers arrived at the scene, and pulled the two kids out, and went to take them to the US hospital in the area, but were later diverted to an Iraqi hospital, for reasons I haven't been able to find.

    Reuters, the news company that the journalists worked for, requested the helicopter's video from the US military, which was supplied to them, and I guess it has taken them until just now to finally finish their investigation and release everything.

    Why this has raised so much controversy:

    Obviously the killing of the two journalists is not a good thing. While they were in a group of armed men, they were non-combatants, and shouldn't have been killed in an ideal world. As well, the wounding of the two children should have been avoided in an ideal world. Plus the dialogue of the helicopter crew is quite crass throughout the video. The pilot instructs the gunners to Light Up the group, and then makes joking comments about all the dead bodies. Later when the crew is informed of the presence of children, they state that it is the insurgent's faults for bringing the kids into a battle.

    Anyway, its a really interesting story to read about, and look into. I'm going to go ahead and post the two videos I found on it, but I have to warn everyone, they are quite graphic. You don't really see anything, as once the bullets hit they would just raise massive clouds of dust and everything is pretty obscured, but there are about 15 visible dead bodies at points during the video.

    Warning - Videos contain graphic material, do not view if you think that they might offend you.
    [spoiler:xe8xp5ez]Here is the 40 minute uncut clip from the helicopter:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=is9sxRfU ... re=related

    Here is a 17 minute condensed version, that includes about 5 minutes of text overviewing the situation and protesting it. This video is pretty biased, lol, but here it is:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rXPrfnU ... r_embedded[/spoiler:xe8xp5ez]

    My opinion: I think the helicopter crew is justified in what they did. Looking at the situation from their perspective, they saw an armed group in an area frequented by American forces, and this group included someone armed with an RPG that could be used to destroy their helicopter.

    In the case of the van, again, I believe that they were warranted in engaging, though I think they did do so too early. There reasoning behind engaging the van was that it was gathering up the weapons dropped by the others, and to gather the wounded. However, the helicopter engaged the van before they had even approached any of the weapons, and were only gathering up the wounded driver. I believe their reasoning was sound, but they shouldn't have engaged until the van occupants began to gather up the actual weapons. That would have warranted engaging, but just gathering up the man, did not.

    As for the children, I don't hold that against the helicopter crew. There was no way they could have known their were children in the van, and yes, the video shows the two children in the window of the van, but you couldn't have known they were children from the distance the helicopter was at, and I only saw them in the replay when they were pointed out with arrows. I also do believe that it is partially the van driver's fault for bringing them into a battle zone, and the blame doesn't really belong on the helicopter crew.

    Lastly, the complaint against the language of the crew, I am somewhere in the middle of this. Yes, their language was very crass, and they shouldn't have been making jokes about the deaths of the people, but I think there is another side to it. I believe they were trying to make light of the situation, as many soldiers are instructed to do, so that those gruesome details don't affect them so much. Its much like how soldiers in WW2 called Germans Krauts, making jokes in order to not have to deal with the reality of killing people.

    tl;dr Helicopter kills people = controversy.

    Anyway, this has turned into a massive wall of text. So just give your opinions on what happened, and the like.

  2. #2
    Senior Member hjaltithehun=HTH's Avatar
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    Re: Collateral Murder

    I think the reasoning behind killing these people is sound and it is not my job to question soldiers private conversations.

  3. #3
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    Re: Collateral Murder

    They shouldn't have been given permission to engage in either situation. He claimed five or six of them had weapons, when that was not the case, nor did they have any idea why these men were armed. And they DEFINITELY shouldn't have been given permission to fire on the van picking up the wounded, it could've easily been family or a friend trying to help, and they made no claims that they were armed or hostile in any way.

    And the way they were talking about it as if it was some kind of game was fucking disgraceful.

    'Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.'
    'That's right.'


    No. Fuck these guys. That wasn't a battle and they had no idea what was in that van or any idea who these people were. They just fucking assumed that they were hostiles and two children were wounded because of that. And their blatant disregard for their safety is fucking pathetic. No wonder people don't respect America.

  4. #4
    Dedicated Member Jeff'nesS's Avatar
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    Re: Collateral Murder

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica
    They shouldn't have been given permission to engage in either situation. He claimed five or six of them had weapons, when that was not the case, nor did they have any idea why these men were armed. And they DEFINITELY shouldn't have been given permission to fire on the van picking up the wounded, it could've easily been family or a friend trying to help, and they made no claims that they were armed or hostile in any way.

    And the way they were talking about it as if it was some kind of game was fucking disgraceful.

    'Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.'
    'That's right.'


    No. Fuck these guys. That wasn't a battle and they had no idea what was in that van or any idea who these people were. They just fucking assumed that they were hostiles and two children were wounded because of that. And their blatant disregard for their safety is fucking pathetic. No wonder people don't respect America.
    Exactly, couldn't agree more with you, they had permission to engage just by assuming that they were armed! But what really shocks me, is the way they talked, as if those lifes had no value at all, that's nasty. Makes me sick.
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  5. #5
    Veteran Enthusiast Xemozu's Avatar


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    Re: Collateral Murder

    Perhaps the RPG could have been threatening to the heli, but it also goes the other way around for the people on ground. Since 9/11 events America has stereotyped Iraqis to the point of no return as terrorists and soulless human beings, which in my opinion is completely unjustified. Would that helicopter have been flying in another country, and they wouldn't have asked for permission to engage. (Supposing that country was in war with America, of course)

  6. #6
    Enthusiast Slubberdegullion's Avatar

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    Re: Collateral Murder

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica
    They shouldn't have been given permission to engage in either situation. He claimed five or six of them had weapons, when that was not the case, nor did they have any idea why these men were armed. And they DEFINITELY shouldn't have been given permission to fire on the van picking up the wounded, it could've easily been family or a friend trying to help, and they made no claims that they were armed or hostile in any way.

    And the way they were talking about it as if it was some kind of game was fucking disgraceful.

    'Well it's their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.'
    'That's right.'


    No. Fuck these guys. That wasn't a battle and they had no idea what was in that van or any idea who these people were. They just fucking assumed that they were hostiles and two children were wounded because of that. And their blatant disregard for their safety is fucking pathetic. No wonder people don't respect America.
    It is so true, American soldiers are just so hard to respect, and do not deserve respect. This is one of sooo many stories from American troops, such as, the soldiers killing dogs and other animals for fun, the American soldiers raping an Iraqi girl and killing her family, American soldiers taunting children with food, making jokes about war, and so many other horrible things I have read. I just hate it, the Americans should not have even been there in the first place. Not to mention America sold the damn Iraqi's the weapons a long time ago, idiots.
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  7. #7
    Fanatic Enthusiast Xenomorph's Avatar


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    Re: Collateral Murder

    Before everyone here starts on their anti-American crusades, you've got to realize a few things. No matter how hard you try and place rules on what is right and what isn't in war, it's not going to work as you expect. There is no code of conduct when you're about to get shot, when you're about to get killed. The will to live in humans is oddly strong, and when presented with a situation that is literally life or death on a daily basis is not something to gawk at and spew out peace and love and hugs towards.

    So stop assuming your reasoning even applies in the situation. Because it doesn't.

    This being said, I think it's terrible that the incident occurred. I think it's sad, and I think it was a dreadful act. I also think it was completely justified. Do you think the camera crew had no idea that they were in a war zone? Do you think they just stumbled out there innocently? They knew, however obscurely, that they were putting themselves at risk! How can you blame the soldiers who engaged them when those killed should not have been there if they expected any sort of discrimination?

    Civilians do NOT belong on any sort of battlefield. And I'm sorry, but that's what all collateral comes down to. We try and prevent it, we try to avoid it, but it's not possible to completely separate the innocent from the people shooting when they are all wearing the same clothes, when they are all in the same place! I don't care how attached someone is to their 'home', it's very clear that they know the risks of staying there! They choose the convenience of staying with the knowledge that they could be killed. It's a war zone.

    If this happened in, say, an American suburb, then yes, I'd take issue with it! But it didn't. People living in a war zone, people working in a war zone are plenty aware of the fact they they can die by choosing to stay there.

    I used to live in Bahrain, adjacent to Saudi Arabia and while not right in the middle of the conflict, close enough to worry. When 9/11 happened, all hell broke loose over there. Why is it that when an innocent child got trampled in the riots, nobody called foul for collateral? Why is it that when people, including myself, were being tear-gassed by the Bahraini police innocently, nobody called this magical 'collateral' card out? Why is it that when the 'Good-Guys' do something wrong, it's seen as infinitely worse than when the 'Bad-Guys' do it?

    News flash: It's not just Americans doing the collateral. People see it as wrong because they try to avoid collateral and fail! Simply because an expectation is crushed seems to amplify the issue tenfold, and unfairly so!

    So yes, this incident was completely justified, however bad and sad and wrong you may see it as, it was justified. What more can you ask than the attempt to avoid these unfortunate casualties? The soldiers ran it through and asked for permission to engage, did they not? Should they next time land and ask if they were carrying RPGs? I'd think not.

    Now, I know that sounded somewhat like a rant, but my point remains valid. A war-zone is a war-zone, and it comes with it's own problems with being there. If this war were being fought outside of public view, that may be different, but I think it's quite clear to everyone there that there's a war outside, and it's dangerous to everyone in it, civilian or not.
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  8. #8
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    Re: Collateral Murder

    The reason this is considered a bigger deal than the situation you described is because we have actual audio from the situation, and it's fucking disgraceful. Nobody is saying only America is ever at fault, we're simply saying situations like this make it difficult to respect America, because in this case they were completely at fault.

    And at no point did I say it was the people manning the helicopter's fault this happened, don't get me wrong; they're fucking disgraces who don't deserve to decide who lives and dies, but nonetheless I'm not saying it's their fault. I said they shouldn't have been granted permission to fire in the first place. Who cares if it's a war zone? If it was that bad then they wouldn't have needed to ask for permission, would they? There are obviously going to be civilians there, and fair enough they knew the risks, but that doesn't excuse the fact that children were injured and civilians were killed simply because they opened fire without knowing all of the facts. Like I said; they even made false claims. He said five or six people were armed even though he knew that wasn't the case, as he only saw two people with AK's and one with an RPG, he knew there were people that weren't armed at all.

    It wasn't justified, it wasn't justified at all. Of course they shouldn't have landed, but maybe they could've, oh I don't know, actually had a clue what they were doing? Obviously these people had no idea they were there, why was it necessary to open fire so immediately? Why couldn't they have simply kept monitoring them? Or maybe call in some ground forces [which obviously wouldn't have been a stretch, considering ground forces did arrive] to survey the situation better? It's not justified because there are countless ways it could've been easily avoided.

    Before everyone here starts on their anti-American crusades, you've got to realize a few things. No matter how hard you try and place rules on what is right and what isn't in war, it's not going to work as you expect. There is no code of conduct when you're about to get shot, when you're about to get killed. The will to live in humans is oddly strong, and when presented with a situation that is literally life or death on a daily basis is not something to gawk at and spew out peace and love and hugs towards.

    So stop assuming your reasoning even applies in the situation. Because it doesn't.
    And this part was completely unnecessary. It doesn't even apply because nobody was about to be killed.

  9. #9
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    Re: Collateral Murder

    ^ That last part is debatable. It seemed to me as though the one carrying the RPG was aware of the helicopter and it's not too huge of a stretch to say the people in the helicopter could've been in danger. I do think the conversation was ridiculous and unnecessary, and it wasn't handled in the most ideal way, but I don't think they should be held completely responsible.
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  10. #10
    Fanatic Enthusiast Xenomorph's Avatar


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    Re: Collateral Murder

    Quote Originally Posted by Jessica
    The reason this is considered a bigger deal than the situation you described is because we have actual audio from the situation, and it's fucking disgraceful. Nobody is saying only America is ever at fault, we're simply saying situations like this make it difficult to respect America, because in this case they were completely at fault.
    Decorum is not something to be judged. If the soldiers sat and wept for days about the situation, it wouldn't have changed the situation. The people still would have died, regardless of what 'respect' was shown to the corpses.

    And at no point did I say it was the people manning the helicopter's fault this happened, don't get me wrong; they're fucking disgraces who don't deserve to decide who lives and dies, but nonetheless I'm not saying it's their fault. I said they shouldn't have been granted permission to fire in the first place. Who cares if it's a war zone? If it was that bad then they wouldn't have needed to ask for permission, would they? There are obviously going to be civilians there, and fair enough they knew the risks, but that doesn't excuse the fact that children were injured and civilians were killed simply because they opened fire without knowing all of the facts. Like I said; they even made false claims. He said five or six people were armed even though he knew that wasn't the case, as he only saw two people with AK's and one with an RPG, he knew there were people that weren't armed at all.
    Even if he only saw two people with AKs and a guy with an RPG, what makes you think that anyone would assume the rest were noncombatants? I don't think anyone would be standing around these people if they had any sort of desire to continue living. You can't ask for perfect situational awareness, it won't happen. We try to avoid these things, and we can't- that's why people go ballistic, because we failed at something.

    It wasn't justified, it wasn't justified at all. Of course they shouldn't have landed, but maybe they could've, oh I don't know, actually had a clue what they were doing? Obviously these people had no idea they were there, why was it necessary to open fire so immediately? Why couldn't they have simply kept monitoring them? Or maybe call in some ground forces [which obviously wouldn't have been a stretch, considering ground forces did arrive] to survey the situation better? It's not justified because there are countless ways it could've been easily avoided.
    Do you know the range at which an RPG can actually hit a helicopter? It's surprisingly large. Hell, do you know how fragile helicopters really are? If the helicopter would have sat at any sort of visual range, then they would have been at major risk not only from the RPG but from small arms fire. And we don't treat ground forces like cannon fodder, as you're suggesting. If it was a group of armed people, and we sent in ground forces to 'survey' the situation, then more lives would have been lost. We're all just weeping here because a group of civilians who knew what they were getting into died! It's not even as if they were 'innocent' villagers! It was a freaking camera crew carrying large equipment that no normal civilian would have been carrying! They actually came to there of their own free will, unless you're telling me that they, too, are a victim of circumstance- being obviously forced from birth to film against their will in hostile territory?

    [quote:1tjfmplc]Before everyone here starts on their anti-American crusades, you've got to realize a few things. No matter how hard you try and place rules on what is right and what isn't in war, it's not going to work as you expect. There is no code of conduct when you're about to get shot, when you're about to get killed. The will to live in humans is oddly strong, and when presented with a situation that is literally life or death on a daily basis is not something to gawk at and spew out peace and love and hugs towards.

    So stop assuming your reasoning even applies in the situation. Because it doesn't.
    And this part was completely unnecessary. It doesn't even apply because nobody was about to be killed.[/quote:1tjfmplc]
    Thanks for the 20/20 hindsight there. It's easy to tell that nobody was about to be killed after the fact, isn't it? After we search and see a mistake was made, it's strangely simple to predict what happened. During the event, though? How can you be sure that they did not feel their lives were in danger? They followed all procedures, they followed all common rules of sense and reasoning! I don't care if you think that they should have gotten more intelligence. A lot of things should happen. A lot of things shouldn't happen. But it doesn't get anybody anywhere by assuming that what should happen will happen!

    It's a war, and no matter how hard you try to make everything perfect, no matter how hard you try to make the execution flawless, it won't happen. You can't get perfect, but you can try to get close. Heaven forbid someone gets degraded for trying.
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