April 5th, 2010
07:06 PM ET

Video shows journalists' deaths in Iraq

One of two photojournalists killed in a 2007 attack by a U.S. helicopter gunship in Iraq was being rescued when the gunship's crew fired on the van to which he was being carried, according to footage posted online Monday.

Reuters photographer Saeed Cmagh survived an initial strafing by the Apache gunship's 30 mm machine gun, but apparently died when the gunship opened fire on people attempting to get him off the sidewalk where he lay, according to the video. The aerial footage was posted by the Web site WikiLeaks, which said the video remains classified and "clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers."

WikiLeaks is a site that publishes anonymously submitted documents, video and other sensitive materials.

Read the full CNN.com story

- CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Military • U.S.
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Geoff

    Dear Mr President,
    You have two children of your own, please picture you and your loved ones in this scenario. The world is waiting for honesty, an apology.. something other than political rhetoric. We understand the wrongs perpetrated by those who came before, but how can America be the standard for liberty and democracy the world should aim for when Truth dies at your doorstep.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eric

    All wars are nasty and ugly. We all should go back and revisit history.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  3. supporting the vets

    i love how smug suburbanites sitting on their couches munching cheetos can so easily condemn decisions made by soldiers in battle.... must be a pretty nice position to not have to hope you can come home alive from your job so people who know NOTHING about what they are spouting off about can point their fingers and cry shame... spend one week in their shoes and you'll think differently about your pious views of the civility and rules of war in an urban environment against a faceless foe..

    April 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. kin

    Isn't against the Geneva Convention to fire on wounded soldiers and combatants?

    April 5, 2010 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  5. steve

    This isn't everyday in the safe ol neighborhood. This is WAR. These troops are under constant stress, you can hear how much more personal the dialog became when they saw the RPG. You can hear the fear creep into their tone.

    Unfortunately very sad things happen in war

    April 5, 2010 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. mmm

    It is shameful for you, those of you who have not served or fought for our country to condemn the actions of the soldiers or the U.S. How dare you. The individuals in this photgraph were carrying weapons. The reporters are not wearing any gear that would give notice to the pilots (or combatants) that they were journalists (see Bosnian War, see Inbedded reportser Iraq war, see Afghanistan War, etc).

    You say murderers, etc. When you report undercover in a war zone you can face the same risks as the enemy you chose to report about.

    Hell, I have ridden with police officers during their shift and I can tell you, I know that when I do such a thing if there is an exchanage of gun fire between the police and a criminal, I, I alone, have placed myself in a position to be injured or killed. It is my choice and my risk.

    While I truely feel sorry for the reporters and their families, the reporters knew the risk and paid the ultimate price. To call anyone a murderer or to place shame on the pilots or the U.S. is atrocious. Let alone cowardly, in the anonymous fashion you have chosen today. SHAME ON YOU.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Owen

    Raj, if you are too far away to differentiate between a combatant and a reporter, then maybe you are too far away to justify firing your weapon. These Iraqis should have been engaged by US ground forces. If the American military is so courageous, then they should have the courage to confront their enemies face to face. Spraying them from the safety of a helicopter a mile away is indecent and dishonorable, and it leads to horrible "mistakes" like this.

    Steve, that wasnt an rpg. that was a camera. If you cant tell the difference between a 4-foot-long RPG and a 1-foot-long telephoto lens, then you shouldn't be flying Apaches.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  8. William Spendlove

    If you watch the entire video you can see the rules of engagement were broken.. and nobody in the van had weapons.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Laura Batten

    I'm glad to see this finally got put up. I know there's some people who are trying to minimize this by saying it would have been difficult to tell if the camera's were weapons, but with or without the tags that was clearly a camera with a sun shield on it. You'll also note the helicopter crew reported there being a firefight where there clearly was none. It isn't anti-national or anti-America to call the military out on its mistakes. The same people who are complaining here would gladly call out a government official if they covered up a mistake. Accountability and transparency are necessary for a democracy and rather than trying to minimize mistakes, why don't we start trying to learn from them?

    April 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Frank

    I still remember a bizarre excitement among the young adults of the Midwest about the Iraqi invasion in March of 2003. Our government's declarations of pursuit of victory without casualties followed. Finally came a ban – recently removed by President Obama – on showing coffins of returning fallen soldiers in the public media. One can understand that a kid or a young adult who never directly experienced a war may view it as a video game version of reality or some sort of international football game: somebody wins, somebody loses. That's why we send kids and young adults to schools so they can broaden their horizons through learning to eventually conclude that there are no wars without casualties, and that wars are always tragic to all parties involved. To realize that the previous republican administration was selling the sanitized version of the wars to the American public, most of whom never directly experienced a war, is beyond me. Obviously, the world would be a better place if those elected by us to public office understand the tragic reality of war and make sure the public shares in that understanding as well.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JAX

    #1 These indiviuals were being "rescued" which meant someone was going to CUT OFF THERE HEADS.2# War is inhumane, if you personalize every bullet you send downrange you will lose your mind.I asure you we humanize them more than they do us. This was tragic yes, but don't lay the blame on US forces

    April 5, 2010 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sgt D

    Keep in mind that the screen on which the helicopter crew sees this video is about 5 inches by 5 inches. You cant differentiate tiny details and you most certainly cant pick out small children behind the door of a vehicle. Even the editor of this video had to zoom in (using 20/20 hindsight) to discern that those were probably the children.

    What the helicopter crew saw on that screen: Men with RPG's and AK-47's in an area where U.S. troops were just attacked with RPG's and AK-47's. Some of the armed men are peering around the corner of a building (a typical firing position for insurgents) toward where the attack just occurred.

    When there is a firefight happening, normal people take refuge or hide somewhere. Think about it: Why would you walk around outside when there is a firefight happening? You wouldnt, unless youre an insurgent (or a journalist covering insurgent activities).

    Most importantly, do any of the following apply to you?: 1. Been in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. 2. Have first-hand knowledge of counter-insurgency warfare. 3. Been attacked by insurgents... If not, then youre not qualified to give an analysis of this video. By all means state your opinion, but thats all it is, your opinion. Leave the analysis of what happened (along with analyses of the Law Of Armed Conflict, the Hague Convention, Rules Of Engagement, etc.) to the people that have been there and know the dynamics of insurgent/counter-insurgent warfare.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Bill

    People seem to think that Soldiers will have perfect knowledge of the situation around them and that mistakes never happen. This is not the case. This video needs to be taken in the context of the battle in which it occurred. This was not an "unprovoked" attack. This was a response to an attack that was underway and that happened in a very bad part of Iraq during a time when many attacks on both Americans and Iraqui citizens were taking place. If the Media choose to intemingle with insurgents or with a crowd that has many insurgents in it, they knowingly take on the risk that they might be mis-identified and fired upon. That any innocent civilians, especially children, died is a tragedy. Let's be careful in who we call innocent until we hear the full story.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:26 pm | Report abuse |
  14. T.B.

    It's easy for us to say that they weren't provoked but we weren't there. You have to remember that this a war zone and the pilots are out looking for the enemy. They clearly look like they could all be carrying weapons. What do you expect these guys to do? Land and ask for ID's? These guys are trained to kill before they are killed. Sh.t happens in a war zone. The journalists knew the risks.

    April 5, 2010 at 8:28 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Rob S.

    First, this incident was sad and just, a shame – for sure.

    In my opinion, there are two and exactly two things that went wrong in this video. First, there WAS someone sneaking/peaking around the corner of the building which DID look like a guy with an RPG getting ready to take out the helicopter. When you live in these sorts of places and helicopters are around, you should not do that – that was stupid. Really stupid. Stay out in the open, don't carry dark objects in the same way you would carry a gun, etc. So that was the first problem.

    On it's own, that probably would've been fine – but the 2nd tragic thing is the call that the gunner made. In that split second, I don't know that I would have acted differently – but he didn't err on the side of caution, unfortunately. This whole situation sits on those two guys: the guy on the ground hiding around the corner, and the gunner who jumped a little bit too far to a conclusion.

    The gunner gave his superiors a legitimate evaluation, and they gave him a legitimate response. So, this is just a really unfortunate incident – but this sort of thing happens in war.

    Lastly, after they found out who was really on the ground – it is common sense they wouldn't want to announce what happenned, so I don't blame the gov't for trying to save face. This was just a sad thing to happen, but going back – even in the shoes of that gunner, I don't know that I would've done anything different – especially if they are on duty, and in the air, looking for insurgents.

    I'd hate to be that gunner, because he will likely carry this burden with him the rest of his life.

    April 5, 2010 at 10:20 pm | Report abuse |
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