Tag Archives: AH-64

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!
Patoosh!
Ah, sweet!
Need a little more room.
Nice missile.
Does it look good?
Sweet!

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.

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