Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Further information on the WikiLeaks video

In a post earlier this month, I talked about the WikiLeaks video from a US gunship in Iraq in July 2007.

There are links to this video in the diary.

And last week, I wrote about the apology letter written by two US soldiers - one of whom was on the scene at the time of the attack.

McJoan covered this earlier today also.

Today, I came across an interview by WIRED.COM of the US soldier who was on the scene and wrote the letter of apology.

And I found a report on the video (posted below) by al Jazeera.

Ethan McCord had just returned from dropping his children at school earlier this month, when he turned on the TV news to see grainy black-and-white video footage of a soldier running from a bombed-out van with a child in his arms. It was a scene that had played repeatedly in his mind the last three years, and he knew exactly who the soldier was.
McCord was the medic who carried the children to medical help.  He is seen running with a child in his arms on the video.  He was also one of the authors of the apology letter.
He discusses how badly injured the Iraqis were from the gunship fire, and how he found the children - he heard the cries of the little girl.  He thought the boy was beyond help until he saw and heard him take a breath.  As he ran with the boy he said "don't die, don't die" to him.  He talks about how this day impacted him, in particular the injured children.
So, the first thing I did was grab the girl. I grabbed the medic and we went into the back. There’s houses behind where the van was. We took her in there and we’re checking to see if there were any other wounds. You can hear the medic saying on the video, "There’s nothing I can do here, she needs to be evac’d." He runs the girl to the Bradley. I went back outside to the van, and that’s when the boy took, like, a labored, breath. That’s when I started screaming, "The boy’s alive! The boy’s alive!" And I picked him up and started running with him over to the Bradley. He opened his eyes when I was carrying him. I just kept telling him, "Don’t die; don’t die." He looked at me, then his eyes rolled back into this head.
Then I got yelled at by my platoon leader that I needed to stop trying to save these mf’n kids and go pull security... I was told to go pull security on a rooftop. When we were on that roof, we were still taking fire. There were some people taking pot shots, sniper shots, at us on the rooftop. We were probably there on the roof for another four to five hours.
He talks about his agony over the children, and reports what his sergeant said.
So I went to a sergeant and asked to see [the mental health person], because I was having a hard time dealing with it. I was called a pussy and that I needed to suck it up and a lot of other horrible things. I was also told that there would be repercussions if I was to go to mental health.
Pretty atrocious.

He also reveals the fact that the Iraqis on the ground who were killed did have weapons, but he did not think they were part of the earlier fight. Wikileaks presented the incident as though there was no engagement from insurgents. But you guys did have a firefight a couple of blocks away. Was it reasonable for the Apache soldiers to think that maybe the people they attacked were part of that insurgent firefight?
McCord: I doubt that they were a part of that firefight. However, when I did come up on the scene, there was an RPG as well as AK-47s there... You just don’t walk around with an RPG in Iraq, especially three blocks away from a firefight...
I believe him.  There were weapons there.

McCord basically feels the troops in the gunship were following the ROE in the first attack, but he does not agree that they were doing so when they fired on the van.  As his letter of apology shows, he realizes that the US was the ones to bring the fight to the streets of Iraq, and that it was wrong to do so.

Al Jazeera also did a report of the WikiLeaks video and interviewed the guy from WikiLeaks and someone else to interpret what was going on in the video.  They further report on the shooting of hellfire missiles into a building a bit later on - and they report that the injured children have been given some compensation since the release of the WikiLeaks video.  The al Jazeera video is below.

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