US inhumanity maxed at Azimuth Limit

WikiLeaks video combat footage of 2007 collateral murder in Iraq“Light ’em all up. Come on, fire!” Watching the leaked combat footage of the helicopter gunships killing unarmed Iraqi civilians in 2007, I’m troubled by my own desensitized response. When I saw earlier leaked videos of an AH-64 vaporizing Iraqi farmers and a C-130 wreaking mayhem in Afghanistan, I remember my real shock at seeing a human life extinguished. This time not even flinch. “Just fuckin’, once you get on ’em just open ’em up.” Not at the brutality, nor the callousness of the play by play –even as the pilots targeted rescuers trying to help the wounded. I fault the Rules of Engagement that allowed the massacre, not the soldiers’ laughing swagger –as I hope they will not begrudge my unguarded satisfaction when eventually spectators will be treated to leaked footage of American soldiers taking some fire.

If you watched the video, perhaps you too were wishing that July 12, 2007 had recorded a massive setback for US troops in Iraq, at the height of the “surge” where a whole shitload of “dismounts” had been ambushed by IED explosions in a Baghdad square in the aftermath of a civilian massacre. Those who watched the 39-minute extended version I know were hoping to see a resolution like that, instead of an additional war crime of disproportional force and the targeting of civilians, a Hellfire missile attack on a building into which armed and unarmed men had entered, surrounded by passing innocents and rescuers scrambling to help.

There it goes! Look at that bitch go!
Ah, sweet!
Need a little more room.
Nice missile.
Does it look good?

The Army has declared that no further inquiry will be made into the 2007 killing of the two Reuters journalists. Its FOIA requests long thwarted, even Reuters is not expressing outrage at this footage. Civilians and journalists about to be lit up The corporate media is hoping to let this story fade on the fringe. Does this mean that more pilots and gunners might become emboldened to leak other trophy reels? It doesn’t take Nelson Ratings for news outlets to see that viewers are already clamoring for more combat snuff films.

We could grant amnesty in exchange for those who turn in the most degenerate sequences.

And pretend they’ll remain anonymous. Ultimately friends and relatives will be able to place identities with the radio voices. Speaking on one of the clearest channels is the young voiced HOTEL-26, who reported taking fire from the photographers and ID’d the “RPG” with started the whole engagement. Likewise the gunner on CRAZY HORSE-18 who responded “Alright, hahaha, I hit ’em….” is addressed “God damn it, Kyle.”

And then there’s the poor 30mm gunner in CRAZY HORSE-19 who assessed his work thus:

Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha ha!

While chomping at the bit to fire upon the improvised ambulance, he was momentarily thwarted by a puzzling “Azimuth Limit” which prevented his shooting.

Bloggers are now abuzz to decode the Azimuth Limit which slowed the turkey shoot when none of the gunners were showing restraint. Azimuth is the angular measurement of an object’s distance clockwise from True North. On rifles it expresses the adjustment of a gunsight to its boresight. On aircraft it apparently has something to do with the angle of relation to the axis of the fuselage. Whatever it is, maybe we can ratchet military Azimuth Limits down flat, if that’s what it will take to stop our soldiers from blowing away civilians, journalists, children and their rescuers alike. The shooters can cuss and salivate all they want so long as their trigger mechanisms respect human life or at least balk at excessive carnage.

What doesn’t come across the audio is what the US soldiers on the ground are saying to themselves as they survey “that big pile of [unarmed] bodies,” in their palaver, the “dead bastards.”

UPDATE — the testimonials begin:

From Iraq war veteran Michael Prysner, co-founder of March Forward!

The harrowing Apache footage released by WikiLeaks gives us a stomach-turning glimpse of war. Seventeen minutes of cold-blooded massacre in a war of more than seven years. A brief clip of one Apache video; a quick look at one part of one mission. Hundreds of those missions take place every day.

The video came to light thanks to military whistleblowers who provided it to WikiLeaks together with supporting documents.  Imagine if we had access to all such videos, the things we would see. Imagine all the Iraqis killed who have no one to uncover the truth about their deaths. Had the death of two Reuters news staffers not generated interest in this video, then the destruction of three families by hellfire missiles fired into an apartment building with no provocation, in a separate engagement also featured in the video, would have never been made public.

This massacre is a drop in a sea of blood. Many other such “incidents” will never be known.

Officers claimed there was “no question” that the pilots were responding to enemy fire; the video shows there is no question that they were not responding to enemy fire. They said that they had “no idea” how the journalists were killed; the video shows that they know very well how those journalists were killed. They were gunned down standing in a crowd of unarmed people.
After the slaughter of that group, the pilots beg for permission to kill the innocent passers-by who had come to the aid of one of the wounded, like any of us would have done if we saw our neighbor dying on the ground as we drove down the street. They kill everyone trying to help the dying journalist, and critically wound two children seen sitting in the front seat.

We see a group of unarmed men mowed down by a machine gun designed to destroy armored vehicles. We see a vanload of good Samaritans obliterated for trying to help a dying victim. We see all this with the soundtrack of the pilots mocking the dead, congratulating each other and laughing about the massacre.

No wonder the U.S. military goes to such great lengths to keep such videos from us. They want us to see Iraq and Afghanistan through their lens, through their embedded reporters, filtered by censorship and restrictions. They know that, once the people of this country see the extreme racism and brutality behind these occupations, they will be repulsed by what their tax dollars are paying for.

The military brass and the White House politicians have tried to justify this senseless atrocity. “Cut the pilots some slack. This was in Baghdad. This was a battle zone”—that’s been their line. The pilots had been indoctrinated with the same colonial mentality. “That’s what they get for bringing their kids into battle,” one pilot says.

The father driving that van was not “bringing his kids into battle.” He was bringing them to school, driving down the street where they live. But the U.S. occupation has made all of Iraq a battle zone. To those pilots, to their commanders over the radio and to the generals in the Pentagon, every single person in Baghdad and in Iraq is “fair game.”

The pilots joked about the people they killed, laughed about U.S. military vehicles running over dead bodies, knowing that their commanders were listening and that they were being recorded. They were not acting out of character. This is the culture of the occupation. This is how these wars are being conducted.

Having seen this, one cannot honestly believe that these atrocities are committed day in and day out for the liberation of the Iraqi people.

The Pentagon’s talking heads and media lackeys are hard at work putting their spin on this story. It’s time to tell the truth. For more than seven years, the U.S. has unleashed criminal, unprovoked aggression against the people of Iraq, and they have been doing the same thing in Afghanistan for more than eight years.

The U.S. military presence in Iraq is a colonial occupation force. The only way forward is a complete, immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq and Afghanistan. This government will not do that unless all of us who are outraged by these criminal acts stand up and demand it.

Iraq war veteran Josh Stieber, US Army Specialist, 1st ID, Bravo Company 2-16 in Baghdad (Rustamiyah) 2007-2008. Although he was not present at the scene of the video, he knows those who were involved and is familiar with the environment.

A lot of my friends are in that video. After watching the video, I would definitely say that that is, nine times out of ten, the way things ended up. Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are.

If these videos shock and revolt you, they show the reality of what war is like. If you don’t like what you see in them, it means we should be working harder towards alternatives to war.


10 thoughts on “US inhumanity maxed at Azimuth Limit

  1. It’s grim. It’s like that joke my sister and her husband made over a similar killing of an Iraqi Kurdish shepherd, in the Northern No-Fly Zone, “the pilot was feeling kinda Sheepish, because he was having a Baaaaaaaaaaad day.”

    The Strategic Air Command (split up into separate “commands” now, but the ones who operated missile bases and Bomber aircraft, like the B-52s that they would take off and land one every damn 5 minutes at Carswell AFB Texas. The flight pattern took them right over the Base Hospital. You ever hear one coming in low over you? They call that God-awful screech “the sweet sound of Liberty”, meaning in Air Force doublespeak, Liberation by Death.) But the Official Motto of SAC was “Peace is our profession”. No, stupids, bombing third world villages into rubble was your profession… but the Air Force has to have its Orwellian jokes At the BX, Base Exchange, like the WalMart of the Air Force only with actually LESS corporate welfare than WalMart gets, they sold Tee-Shirts with the motto “Peace is our Profession, Killing is our Hobby.”

    Along with VietNam era (this was thirty years ago, not like they changed attitudes, just the words used to describe that attitude) “clever and cute” sayings like “We are here to win your hearts and minds… or maybe just burn down your GodDamn huts”.

    Any of y’all soldiers, airmen, sailors or marines reading this, gripping and gritting your teeth and screaming in rage at your monitors because some “Hippies” dare to make such comments, remember this… the “Shock and Awe” blatantly Terrorist doctrine you’re employing now, didn’t work in VietNam or Korea either.

    A bunch of really stupid Military Historians get to harping on the theme that VietNam was the “first war America lost” well, not quite. Not only did the U.S. Army and Navy and Marines get their collective Arse handed to them in ‘Nam, they also got their Collective Arse handed to them in Korea, and earlier in the First Foreign Expedition done by the U.S. Marines, that “shores of Tripoli” part of your retarded and historically incorrect song, the Marines LOST that one too. And the Seminole Wars. And the Creek Wars. Our little tiny really insignificant part of the Napoleonic Wars, “the war of 1812”, our part of it ended in a draw. The British went on to victory in the much wider war.

    Not that you would know it from the Heroic Jingo songs written about them.

    In the Barbary “pirates” case, it was “Pay the damn tribute, declare victory and split”.

    Terrorist attitudes like the ones displayed in this latest Murder Spree, nothing new, and nothing effective.

  2. Good article.

    I haven’t seen the extended footage, only the short version, and now that I’ve read what’s in it I don’t really want to.

    I reckon what you said about this being very much in-character for these pilots is right on the money, and is the most disturbing part.

    Check out my take on the video if you get a chance. It’s at titaniumteddybear (dot) net. Should be up tomorrow.

  3. I felt bad about the callousnes off the pilots… “just shoot them” but to say the entire collective was unarmed is clearly not true… at least two of the “civillians” were armed.

    i actually took a look at this in order to, admittedly, rubber neck, at it. however, wait till its your arse on the line.

    the commentary is not nice but, having watched it i feel they were doing what they thought was right and if this is what wikileaks and the like are all about then you bloody well go there

  4. You should be happy, your Coward Ass Murdering Buddies got smooth away with it, and the one who told the truth, Bradley Manning,he’s the one being dismantled by your Psychotic PsyOps prison guards.

    The bitches probably still laugh about almost killing the kiddos.

    I bet if you shot up a TeaParty or other Racist RepubliKlan meeting you’d find plenty of firepower.

    The people your Army MURDERED were in their homeland, not the Armed Invaders who shot them up.

    YOUR Army went to THEIR homeland with the express intent of either forcing them into Corporate Slavery or simply killing them.

  5. And it’s easy for an Army “clean up” squad to plant weapons. The Police do it all the time here in America after they shoot somebody in the back.

    The video says YOU are lying and so were the Army.

  6. Nope, not at all. And I just suppose that your RepubliKlan sites which paint every action of your police and military as justified aren’t biased either, Right, Wingnut?
    I bet you’re happy with the actions your Army and other Corporate Sucks just enabled the Honduran Death Squads to pull off….

    Must make you ever so proud that you’re enabling the same kind of actions in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Pakistan, the Philippines… Texas…
    Too bad you decided to pick on people who aren’t nearly as stupid as you.

  7. You might be wondering why the standard right wing line about other people, such as us, reporting facts without attempting to tell your side of the story, failed so miserably.
    The fact is, your military and their British counterparts have quite a lot of paid professional employees telling their side of the story so we’re not obligated by necessity to tell your side.

    Nor, considering the fact that your Military Propagandists have spent quite a lot of unreported money telling their story, and completely dismissing our side, to the point of sending brainless twits to make snotty comments, well, we’re not required by courtesy to publish your side of the story either.

    I’m sure you’ll understand, you seem to be a bright fellow. Not really, but it made you feel good for a brief instant before you read this and it slowly dawned on you that I, too, was merely being rude and snotty.
    If you had real human emotions your feelings would be hurt, I guess it’s a benefit of your training that you no longer have to worry about your share of our common humanity.

    You seem to have taken quite a bit of exception to the notion that your Military fellow minions vaporized farmers then laughed about it.
    I was offended when I heard a similar comment framed as a joke by my sister and her husband, where one of the pilots in their flight had vaporized a Kurdish shepherd, at least one, in the northern no-fly zone prior to the Invasion and Conquest errr… “liberation” yeah, that’s the ticket, of Iraq. Simply because the pilot couldn’t tell the difference between armed humans and sheep.

    Strangely, your Air Force and the RepubliKlan president at the time denied that any such incidents occurred and stated that the only times “targets” (Human Beings in a country against which we had not declared war) on the ground were fired upon was when they had opened hostilities against the Air Force Murder Machine.

    Now, I know for a fact that sheep are incapable of doing any damage to U.S. Air Force WAR planes. Especially when the airplanes are in the air.
    But, the two USAF sergeants who told me about it, laughed long and loud about vaporizing at least one Kurdish civilian.

    I suppose I’m supposed to be very courteous and just ignore that, ain’t I?
    But, I ain’t. Nor will I ignore that your ex-president and his British Oil Corporate Government accomplices started the war based on several lies.

    According to the Bush Doctrine, if there’s only a 1% chance that the Iraqis had WMDs and planned to use them against the “peace-loving” Pentagon War Machine, then it was justified.

    Bush claims that his doctrines are actually Biblical, did you know that? It’s true. In fact, the Colorado Springs “christian” Schools awarded the lying murdering cowardly thief a “christian” medal, the Lions Heart Award, for being so very Biblical.
    Now, one really cool aspect of Biblical law is that of judgment by equal measures. Meaning, in short, that Bush could be accused, found guilty, and hanged just like Saddam Hussein was and using FAR more evidence than the faked “WMDs” which, you might have noticed, have never been found.

    The only thing stopping such action is there are a whole lot of Right Wing Crybaby Pussies rallying around him.

    Maybe you know some of them, you do such an excellent job of writing like one that I just get this feeling, let’s call it my own personal 1% doctrine, that you are one.

    Which gives me even more of a reason not to be nice and polite and courteous to you.

  8. A lone, unmarked van drives hastily? into a zone where several people were just fired upon to extract the bodies of downed insurgents. There were two journalists among them of course, but the majority of them were hostiles with weapons.
    Deny it all you want, but anyone who is so audacious, or stupid, that they enter the field of fire of an Apache, while it is still orbiting the location, shouldn’t be surprised when the pilot and gunner assume them hostile and engage them.

    I can see two sides to this story. First off the? American soldiers fired prematurely without making sure of their targets, but the cameramen shouldn’t have gone into an active war zone and pointed a large camera at the helicopter. It’s understandable that they would have thought the camera was a RPG

  9. The aircrew did what they are supposed to do……..there were armed enemy at ground, two with AK-47s and one with a Rocket Propelled Grenade aiming in the direction of one of the choppers. You are crazy to believe that any criminal act took place on the part of this crew. There are other arguments that may (or may not) be valid as to the invasion in the first place……..but, once you are there, as a military member, your responsibility is clearly understood by almost all participants.

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