Wikileaks’ Collateral Murder and its implications

6 04 2010

It’s hard to discuss materials such as the recently leaked video of a U.S. Apache helicopter’s fatal strike against a group of Iraqis, including Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh, both Reuters employees, without becoming completely intertwined with the multiplicity of political and social implications of the act itself. The video, titled “Collateral Murder,” had been buried by the Department of Defense since 2007, was leaked to, a site devoted entirely to anonymously releasing previously hidden information to the general public and published on Monday, to the immediate attention of the Internet.

Reuters had been unsuccessfully trying for years to gain access to the video and radio transmissions from the attack under the Freedom of Information Act, and now finds itself in the strange position of having to report on another news outlet discovering the truth about the death of its own employees.

Image courtesy of Wikileaks

The shortened version of the video already, at the time of this post, has nearly 1.3 million views. The unedited, 40-minute clip has more then 180,000 views. And though there’s plenty of debate in regard to the content of the video, the fact that it’s now so readily available gives further credence to the belief that greater Internet prevalence gives birth to greater dissemination of information, regardless of government secrecy. For the average citizen, it’s a harrowing look into the U.S.’s continued occupation of Iraq, one that, despite the black and white imagery, is more vivid and revealing than the vast majority of the media coverage over the past few years.

For man in the government and military, it’s an egregious breach of protocol. U.S. intelligence has a tenuous relationship with Wikileaks, punctuated by a March 18, 2008 document detailing the desire to shut the site down for national security purposes, released by Wikileaks on March 15, 2010. And for the established media, it’s a stark reminder that their reputation as gritty keepers of the truth, of investigative mavericks is on the line. Wikileaks, after all, displays a quote from The National on November 19, 2009, which says, “WikiLeaks has probably produced more scoops in its short life than the Washington Post has in the past 30 years.”

Both videos are embedded beneath the cut, along with several articles from the likes of The Atlantic, Kotaku and The New York Times examining the leak from several different angles.

– By Morgan Little,

Short version

Full version

What the Wikileaks Video Shows: The AtlanticWire
U.S. Army Accused of ‘Video Game’-Like Behavior In Disturbing Leaked Iraq War Video: Kotaku
2 Iraqi Journalists Killed as U.S. Forces Clash With Militias: The New York Times (original story on the incident)
Wikileaks Video Demonstrates Conclusively That Innocent People Get Killed in Wars: Gawker (forgive the snarky title, but there is a great deal of context from the media’s perspective held within)




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