Somewhere in the household background this morning, while I was doing the crossword puzzle or making coffee, I heard NPR talking about a leaked U.S. military video of a 2007 incident in which American helicopter crews had killed a group of Iraqi men on a Baghdad street, including two journalists. Two children were also wounded.
The video was decrypted and released by Wikileaks in a 17-minute summary and full 39-minute version here: CollateralMurder.com. The videos are profoundly disturbing on many levels: the actual killing, of course; the eagerness bordering on glee of the crews on the radio; the apparent flimsiness of the evidence that the people on the street posed a threat and the exaggeration of the threat by the crews seeking permission to open fire; the discovery that children had been shot, and the contradiction between the urgency of the soldiers on the scene to get them treated immediately at a U.S. military facility and the deliberate command decision to hand the kids over to Iraqi police who would take them to "a local hospital." If you're inclined to believe, as I am, that this war has been brutal and wasteful and appalling from the outset and has been conducted with contempt for the native population, here's evidence that speaks to that. (On a more measured note, here's a discussion on a New Yorker blog that discusses some of the legal and ethical questions the incident raises.)
But perhaps all comes right if you're willing to face the truth of your mistakes. So watch the video. Then ask yourself: Does this account from the U.S. military, repeated widely by U.S. media, bear anything but a passing resemblance to what you've seen?