On Monday, as announced, Wikileaks released a shocking video showing U.S. military killing civilians by firing from a helicopter in July 2007; the site had to break encryption in order to view the film, which gives the lie to a military's investigatory whitewash of the incident in which two Reuters journalists were killed. -- (Discussion of the fallout of publication of the video can be followed on Twitter at #wikileaks.) -- The Pentagon has been "seeking ways to prevent classified material appearing on Wikileaks, including through 'criminal sanctions,'" the London Guardian reported Monday, and has identified Wikileaks a threat to "national security." -- Chris McGeal noted that the Pentagon report identifying Wikileaks as a threat to national security reflects its "paranoia about where Wikileaks is obtaining its material, [and] speculates that the CIA may be responsible. But perhaps most embarrassing leak for the U.S. Defense Department was that of the 2008 report itself which appeared on the Wikileaks site last month." -- On its At War blog, the New York Times cited Reuters in reporting that Wikileaks "told a news conference [Monday] at the National Press Club that it acquired encrypted video of the July 12, 2007, attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code." -- The Times provided this link to a YouTube posting of the video (this is the complete full 39:14 version). -- A Wikileaks spokesperson said that supercomputer time and months of work had been required to de-encrypt the video....
WIKILEAKS REVEALS VIDEO SHOWING U.S. AIR CREW SHOOTING DOWN IRAQI CIVILIANS
By Chris McGeal
** Footage of July 2007 attack made public as Pentagon identifies website as threat to national security **
April 5, 2010
[PHOTO CAPTION: Namir Noor-Eldeen, the photographer killed in the Baghdad air strike.]
A secret video showing U.S. air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency, was revealed by Wikileaks today.
The footage of the July 2007 attack was made public in a move that will further anger the Pentagon, which has drawn up a report identifying the whistleblower website as a threat to national security. The U.S. Defense Department was embarrassed when that confidential report appeared on the Wikileaks site last month alongside a slew of military documents.
The release of the video from Baghdad also comes shortly after the U.S. military admitted that its special forces attempted to cover up the killings of three Afghan women in a raid in February by digging the bullets out of their bodies.
The newly released video of the Baghdad attacks was recorded on one of two Apache helicopters hunting for insurgents on 12 July 2007. Among the dead were a 22-year-old Reuters photographer, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40. The Pentagon blocked an attempt by Reuters to obtain the video through a freedom of information request. Wikileaks director Julian Assange said his organization had to break through encryption by the military to view it.
In the recording, the helicopter crews can be heard discussing the scene on the street below. One American claims to have spotted six people with AK-47s and one with a rocket-propelled grenade. It is unclear if some of the men are armed but Noor-Eldeen can be seen with a camera. Chmagh is talking on his mobile phone.
One of the helicopter crew is then heard saying that one of the group is shooting. But the video shows there is no shooting or even pointing of weapons. The men are standing around, apparently unperturbed.
The lead helicopter, using the moniker Crazyhorse, opens fire. "Hahaha. I hit 'em," shouts one of the American crew. Another responds a little later: "Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards."
One of the men on the ground, believed to be Chmagh, is seen wounded and trying to crawl to safety. One of the helicopter crew is heard wishing for the man to reach for a gun, even though there is none visible nearby, so he has the pretext for opening fire: "All you gotta do is pick up a weapon." A van draws up next to the wounded man and Iraqis climb out. They are unarmed and start to carry the victim to the vehicle in what would appear to be an attempt to get him to hospital. One of the helicopters opens fire with armor-piercing shells. "Look at that. Right through the windshield," says one of the crew. Another responds with a laugh.
Sitting behind the windscreen were two children who were wounded.
After ground forces arrive and the children are discovered, the American air crew blame the Iraqis. "Well it's their fault for bringing kids in to a battle," says one. "That's right," says another.
Initially the U.S. military said that all the dead were insurgents. Then it claimed the helicopters reacted to an active firefight. Assange said that the video demonstrated that neither claim was true.
"Why would anyone be so relaxed with two Apaches if someone was carrying an RPG and that person was an enemy of the United States?" he said. "The behavior of the pilots is like a computer game. When Saeed is crawling, clearly unable to do anything, their response is: come on buddy, we want to kill you, just pick up a weapon . . . It appears to be a desire to get a higher score, or a higher number of kills."
Wikileaks says it will shortly release a second secret U.S. military video showing the deaths of civilians in an attack in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has been seeking ways to prevent classified material appearing on Wikileaks, including through "criminal sanctions." Wikileaks has made public classified U.S. army reports on weapons, military units and battle strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Pentagon report, reflecting the depth of paranoia about where Wikileaks is obtaining its material, speculates that the CIA may be responsible. But perhaps most embarrassing leak for the U.S. Defense Department was that of the 2008 report itself which appeared on the Wikileaks site last month.
Notes From the Front Lines
GROUP RLEASES CLASSIFIED VIDEO OF 2007 BAGHDAD ATTACK
By Rogene Fisher and Noam Cohen
New York Times
April 5, 2010
An online whistleblowing group has circulated online classified U.S. military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff. The group, Wikileaks.org, told a news conference at the National Press Club that it acquired encrypted video of the July 12, 2007, attack from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking the encryption code, Reuters reported.
The video, linked here shows an aerial view of the scene of and includes audio from the Apache helicopter pilots engaged in the attack. It includes graphic images and disturbing language.
A U.S. defense official confirmed that the video and audio were authentic, according to Reuters.
Wikileaks.org, a nonprofit group, was created in the spring of 2007, and its disclosure of classified military information is not an unprecedented move for the group. The group’s online whistleblowing has riled the military and corporations in the past. In March, as our colleague, Stephanie Strom wrote about the group’s release of an internal Pentagon report. "The Pentagon concluded that 'WikiLeaks.org represents a potential force protection, counterintelligence, OPSEC, and INFOSEC threat to the U.S. Army' -- or, in plain English, a threat to Army operations and information."
On its behalf, Wikileaks.org describes itself as “an intelligence agency of the people.”
Our colleague Elisabeth Bumiller has more details on the release of the video in a story appearing in Tuesday’s *New York Times*.
In an interview from Germany last night, Daniel Schmitt, a spokesman for Wikileaks, said he was “relieved to hear” that the United States military had concluded that proper protocol had not been followed in the case. “From my human point of view, I couldn’t believe it would be so easy to wreak that kind of havoc on the city, when they can’t see what is really go on there,” he said.
He said the organization has been working for months to find and deploy powerful computers to de-encrypt the military videos, beginning with a request via Twitter in January that Wikileaks “needed supercomputer time.”
He said that the effort is ongoing. “There are more videos than just that one video,” Mr. Schmitt said.
Wikileaks was created in the spring of 2007 as “an intelligence agency of the people.” The idea was to take advantage of the global reach of the Internet and to bring to light hidden information about governments and multinational corporations.
By being everywhere and no one exact place, Wikileaks is, in effect, beyond the reach of any government that hopes to silence it. And there have been many that have tried, starting with a United States district court judge in California. In 2008, Judge Jeffrey S. White ordered the American version of the site shut down after it published confidential documents concerning a subsidiary of the Swiss bank. Two weeks later he reversed himself, in part recognizing that the order had little effect since the same material could be accessed on a number of other “mirror sites.”
In Britain, Wikileaks has been used a number of times to evade injunctions on publication by courts who ruled that the material would violate the privacy of the people involved. These courts, too, reversed themselves when they discovered how ineffectual their rulings were.