WikiLeaks Video – “Collateral Murder, Baghdad July 12, 2007”

Report from the WikiLeaks Press Conference


By Michael Collins

(April 5, Washington, DC) Julian Assange and Wikileaks kept their promise of February 20 by releasing a video tape that shows civilians and reporter deaths from an attack by United States forces.  The tape was presented at a 9:00 am press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Before the conference began, Assange described this as a “very rich story.”  He opened with a brief statement and then showed the video tape.  The edited and unedited versions of the tape are available here.  WikiLeaks received the tape through unspecified channels.  Assange did say that the leak to his organization “sends a message that there are some people in the US military who don’t like what’s going on.”

The video captures an incident on July 12, 2007 in a Baghdad suburb.  This event has been a matter of controversy since a Reuter’s photo journalist, Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his assistant, Saeed Chmagh, were both killed in the incident.

Reuters described the scene as follows:

“Reuters has asked the US military to conduct a full and objective investigation into the deaths of two employees in Baghdad on 12 July. Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, a father of four, were killed while working in the eastern area of the Iraqi capital.

“The cause of their deaths is unclear. The US military issued a statement describing the incident as a firefight with insurgents and said the killings were being investigated. Witnesses interviewed by Reuters said they saw no gunmen in the immediate area and that there had been a US helicopter attack, which police described as “random American bombardment”. Reuters reported it was doing everything it could to work with the authorities to find out how the men died, and was supporting the families.” Reuters, July 13, 2007

The Army never released the video tape from the two Apache helicopters responsible for the attack despite a freedom of information request and pressure by Reuters.

A “random American bombardment”

Today’s tape clarified the concerns about the killings and provided no evidence that this was an engagement with insurgents.  Adult men are seen gathering on a street in the suburb of Baghdad.  Assange pointed out that the two experienced Reuters journalists present seemed relaxed and casual despite the presence of the helicopters.  WikiLeaks’ analysis showed the possibility of an RPG and possibly an Uzi machine gun.  Uzi’s are legal weapons in Baghdad.  RPG’s are a common weapon in the civil strife in Baghdad. As the Apache helicopter circled overhead, communication between the pilots seems bland and matter of fact.  There’s the assumption that these are hostile forces but there is no indication of a “firefight.”

After the attack on the people gathered, the tape went on to show a van stopping to rescue Saeed Chmagh, the photojournalist assistant.  People are seen loading Chmagh into the van.  Recent investigation in Baghdad by WikiLeaks and their Icelandic media partners confirmed that the van was driven by the father of two taking his children to tutoring.  The children were in the front seat and seriously injured. US military personnel arrived in an armed carrier and sent the children to an Iraqi hospital.  Photojournalist Noor-Eldeen is seen run over by an armored personnel carrier.  He and Chmagh both died in the incident.

Assange showed additional footage from the attack after a 20 minute gap in the tape, present when WikiLeaks acquired the video.  In this instance, a building on a busy street is attacked by the same Apache helicopters.  The tape showed one man entering the building, while the US military reported more.  There was no reaction to the helicopters overhead by those seen on the street.  Shortly after the helicopters began circling, they attacked the building with their onboard cannon.

In the question and answer period after the well attended video presentation, Assange pointed out that this was not the video tape from Afghanistan referenced previously by General David Petraeus.  Wikileaks has the tape but is still analyzing it.  Assange was asked why the tape wasn’t released immediately.  He pointed out that analysis was a complex matter and WikiLeaks needed some on the ground investigation in Baghdad to make the tape as meaningful as possible.

He said that the tape was “conveyed” to WikiLeaks through the US military but would not say that the leak was provided by a member of the military.

The highly evocative tape will be seen around the nation and world today and, no doubt, form the basis for an ongoing investigation by Reuters which can now view what they requested nearly three years ago.

WikiLeaks has produced more scoops than the Washington Post has in the past thirty years according to a report by The Guardian. The web based service was “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa” according to their “About” page. WikiLeaks targets oppressive regimes throughout the world, as well as regimes seeking to repress information on illegal and unethical government actions and policies.


This article may be reproduced in part or in whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

WikiLeaks web site

Previously:  Army Intel ACORNing WikiLeaks? Web Publisher Under Attack by Michael Collins, March 29, 2009

8 responses to “WikiLeaks Video – “Collateral Murder, Baghdad July 12, 2007”

  1. Pingback: The Progressive Mind » WikiLeaks Video – “Collateral Murder, Baghdad July 12, 2007″ « COTO Report

  2. The 17-minute version uploaded by Wikileaks goes well beyond responsible journalism and the stated mission of Wikileaks to the point where it is propagandistic and misleading. This video, Wikileaks Deception, includes footage not seen in the Wikileaks version and provides the context and necessary annotations to get the full context of the incident, including discussions of hostile gunfire, the presence of an AK-47 and RPG, and other framing factors. To their credit, Wikileaks did include an unedited 39 minute version, but chose to propagate the 17 minute version with deceptive analysis.

  3. “These guys were breathing hard to kill someone.”

    ….Defense analyst Pierre Sprey, who led the design teams for the F-16 and A-10 and who spent many years in the Pentagon, stresses two particularly damning features of the footage. The first is the claim that Noor-Eldeen’s telephoto lense could be mistaken for an RPG. “A big telephoto for a 35mm camera is under a foot and half at most. An RPG, unloaded , is 3 feet long and loaded, 4 foot long. These guys were breathing hard to kill someone.”

    Sprey’s second point is that Apache helicopters makes a very loud “whomp, whomp” noise. “ Twelve guys are unconcerned, with loud helicopters right overhead. Imagine if they were planning an assault on American troops. They’d be crouched down and skulking along walls, spread out. They would not be walking casually down the middle of the street, totally ignoring the helicopters.”

    A retired U.S. Marine was even blunter:

    “Not a good show at all. The group on the ground were banishing nothing that ‘looked’ or appeared as weapons. The Apache crews were stupid and the intelligence clowns pointing them egging them on are guilty of murder.”

    In the aftermath the US military claimed that some AK-47s and a grenade launcher had been found at the scene. Sprey comments that, in the course of the subsequent cover-up, the weapons may well have been planted, LAPD style.


  4. “Collateral Damage” – Spinning Away Murder in Iraq.

    Excuses, explanations or conspiracy and misprision of a felony

    Time for the “spin masters” to “pay the fiddler”


  5. Hello Nice website Really enjoyed it.

  6. griffithinsider

    Am writing a thesis on Public Trust in WikiLeaks, the Media and the Government and need to know what your opinions are. The online survey is multiple choice and will take approximately 10 minutes to complete. Please follow the link: Would be great if you would encourage others to do the survey also.

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