On 5th April 2010, WikiLeaks released a video which showed a US Apache helicopter gunning down a dozen people in Baghdad inclduing two Reuters journalists in a display of indiscriminate firing. The incident itself was from July 2007 in which two Reuters news staff, Namir, 22, and Saeed, 40, and nine other men were killed and two children seriously wounded in a raid by the US Apache helicopter.
The video release by WikiLeaks was part of the thousands of classified US military secrets release by Julian Assange and team at WikiLeaks. The a video from WikiLeaks titled Collateral Murder was filmed from a US military Apache helicopter’s gun-sight.
The US Apache helicopter had the call sign Crazy Horse 1-8. The video shows the gunner tracking Reuters journalist Namir as he stumbles and tries to hide behind garbage before his body explodes as the rounds strike home. Namir and others are blown apart.
Another Reuters journalist Saeed survives the first shots. But the chopper with Saeed in its sight circles above. A van pulls up with two men, including the driver whose children are in the back. The men help the injured Saeed get in. Crazy Horse 1-8 then attacks the van killing Saeed and the two men. The driver’s children were reported to have been badly injured in the firing but were alive.
The US government has not officially ackonwledged the presence of the video. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack.
After demands by Reuters for an investigation, the incident was investigated and the U.S. military concluded that the actions of the soldiers were in accordance with the law of armed conflict and its own “Rules of Engagement”. Consequently, WikiLeaks has released the classified Rules of Engagement for 2006, 2007 and 2008, revealing these rules before, during, and after the killings.
US Targets Assange
The US continues its legal efforts to extradite Assange from a British prison, where he is remanded in failing health, to face espionage allegations. Interestingly, the detailed 37-page US indictment against Assange makes no mention of the incident or the video that caused a huge damage to the reputation of the US government and its military. The release of the video and the documents made Assange the foremost enemy of the US state secrecy.
WikiLeaks released both the original 38 minutes video and a shorter version with an initial analysis. Subtitles have been added to both versions from the radio transmissions. WikiLeaks claims that it obtained the video as well as supporting documents from a number of military whistleblowers.
In February 2010, Chelsea Manning, a US military intelligence analyst in Baghdad discovered the Crazy Horse 1-8 video and leaked it to WikiLeaks. The previous month Manning had leaked 700,000 classified US military documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks.
Assange unveiled the Crazy Horse 1-8 footage (a 17-minute edited version and the full 38-minute version remain on WikiLeaks’ Collateral Murder site). The video was picked up by thousands of news organisations worldwide, sparking global outrage and condemnation of US military tactics in Iraq – and launching WikiLeaks as a controversial truth-teller, publisher and critical enemy of state secrecy. WikiLeaks later made public the cache of 700,000 documents.