This is not a video you want to watch.
It shows an attack by the U.S. military from two Apache helicopters in a Baghdad suburb that results in the deaths of two Reuters journalists, their rescuers, other civilians, and two children.
The military claimed the civilians were insurgents, which is disproved by the footage.
The classified video was obtained by the small non-profit WikiLeaks, which tries to publish documents that show government and corporate misconduct.
There is no word on how the nonprofit obtained the 38 minutes of aerial footage of the July 12, 2007 attack. The video had to be decrypted to make it visible.
Reuters reports that a U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that the video and audio were authentic.
The video, shot from one Apache helicopter, shows the airmen focusing on a group congregating in New Baghdad, a suburb. There is some discussion about whether those in the street are carrying weapons. One of the journalists has a camera which the pilots assume is a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. They are then told they are “free to engage.”
WikiLeaks said the men in the square included Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, who were killed in the incident.
Reuters had filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain the video, but was unsuccessful.
WikiLeaks edited the video down to 17:47 on its Web site.
After the dust settles, two wounded children are removed from a vehicle and instead of being taken to a U.S. military hospital, they are taken to a local hospital. Their fate is unknown.
The Pentagon defended the crew as acting within the rules of engagement.
David Schlesinger, Reuters' editor-in-chief, said the video released by WikiLeaks showed the deaths of Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh were "tragic and emblematic of the extreme dangers that exist in covering war zones."
"The video released today via WikiLeaks is graphic evidence of the dangers involved in war journalism and the tragedies that can result," he said Monday, April 5.
Reuters has pressed the U.S. military to conduct a full and objective investigation into the killing of the two staff. Both the Iraqi Journalists Union and the Australian journalists organization are calling on an official investigation of the attack.
A 2008 Army report said WikiLeaks.org “represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, operational security (OPSEC) and information security (INFOSEC) threat to the US Army,” reports the Christian Science Monitor. The Army notes that WikiLeaks is vulnerable to cyber attack.
WikiLeaks uses a Swedish Internet service provider and the Christian Science Monitor says it will only comply with Swedish official and legal request to remove content.
“Through your support we have exposed significant injustice around the world— successfully fighting off over 100 legal attacks in the process,” their Web site says.
WikiLeaks has published documents on Scientology, a Swiss bank and the British National Party.
Viewers should be warned the video is disturbing so viewer discretion is advised. #