Monday, April 05, 2010

Leaked videos and what you get out of it

I just watched the wikileaks video that came out today about how some reuters camera people were killed back in 2007.

Its fairly graphic but also shows the trouble that the fog of war can cause.

Wikileaks leading up to the release of the video described it as "indiscrimate" "slaying".

As I watched the video, I was struck by how I probably would have fired in that situation. It seems (based on quotes in the video itself) that gatherings of males in courtyards was typically done by people that wanted to attack the US military. The way that the guys were carrying their cameras made it look like they were shouldering rifles (it wasn't like the camera was resting on their belly). There was a problem with timing, as the camera man pulls out his zoom lens camera as he pops out behind a corner to check out the street. At the angle of the helo-camera, it looks like something about rpg sized that he is poking out from the corner. If the helo-cam (was it a helo?) was 180 degrees off from its position at that time, they might have been able to tell it was a camera.

I guess my point is, with the resolution of the camera, the lighting, the building occluding stuff, I could see how the mistake was made. They followed all ROE it seems though, as they kept asking for permission to take shots. I can't imagine being in a shaking helo starting at a little screen trying to tell if a black smudge is a zoom camera lens or an RPG that is going to shoot down my helicopter.

Its sad that those people died. Its sad that they had their kids in the van. It seemed to be a mistaken identity rather than an "indiscrimate slaying" of civilians.

I doubt that any of the people in the helicopter are proud that they fired on reuters camera men and onlookers (although at the time, given that they thought they were the enemy, they were proud of the work). In fact, they probably have problems with grief over it.

I suppose I am worried because I think you can take what you want out of the video. If you believe the US military is mostly evil, this video can reenforce that. If you believe that the military is mostly good, you can also reenforce that.

Side note: Anyone else think that wikileaks has/had some nation state sponsoring it?
Might not even be overt sponsoring, but more like enabling (in terms of seed funding)? Once the ball is rolling, I bet it wouldn't take much to get it self sufficient.
I dunno what to think about them, but they seem to have an agenda on the really big stuff. I don't advocate classifying material to bury controversy, but I also will not advocate releasing classified info just because you want to. They seemed to have strayed from their original goal of exposing corrupt regimes in asia and africa (focusing on gitmo, US in Iraq/Afghanistan, banking corruption related to the subprime and nation debt, and etc) [I like the info about nation debt and banking deals though... ] Might just be the stuff that is submitted to them, who knows.

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