I think it’s only right that all of us hold off before offering any judgments on the astonishing video published by WikiLeaks yesterday showing a U.S. Apache helicopter killing 12 Iraqis, including a Reuters photographer and his driver. The U.S. military has confirmed the 2007 video’s authenticity, according to the New York Times.
I watched the entire 17-minute-plus video last night (there is also an unedited, 38-minute version), and my main reaction — other than horror — was one of cognitive dissonance. The audio made it clear that the American crew believed the people on the ground were armed combatants. The video told an entirely different story: men walking around, seemingly not up to much of anything in particular.
And no, I’m not offended by the American crew members’ bantering. If they had good reason to believe they were shooting at a legitimate target, so what? The real question is why they held that belief.
Anyway, I don’t want to get ahead of the story. What this calls for is further investigation.
The BBC has some background on WikiLeaks, which is hosted mainly in Sweden.