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Ret. intel officer: US troops violated Rules of Engagement in Reuters shooting

By David Edwards and Stephen Webster
Monday, April 5, 2010 18:33 EDT
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During a Monday appearance on MSNBC’s Dylan Ratigan Show, a retired intelligence officer claimed that U.S. forces violated the military’s Rules of Engagement in events depicted by a video released by whistleblower site WikiLeaks, which allegedly shows the murder of civilians and journalists in New Baghdad, Iraq.

The Pentagon maintains that no crime was committed and no investigation will be carried out.

In the video, U.S. military personnel apparently mistook the cameras slung over the backs of two Reuters journalists for weapons when they opened fire on them and a group of people on July 12, 2007.

The video purportedly shows the deaths of Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22 and Saeed Chmagh, 40, along with six other people on a street corner. It also shows US forces firing on a minivan in which two injured children were found.

“The military did not reveal how the Reuters staff were killed, and stated that they did not know how the children were injured,” Wikileaks states.

“You can see, in this case we really have unique material that shows how modern aerial warfare is done,” WikiLeaks’ co-founder Julian Assange said, appearing on MSNBC. “Hasn’t been revealed before. It also shows the debasement and moral corruption of soldiers as a result of war. It seems like they are playing video games with people’s lives.”

Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, who joined Assange on the program, said that based on what he saw in the video, it appeared to be a violation of the military’s Rules of Engagement.

“First rule is, you may engage persons who commit hostile acts or show hostile intent by minimum force necessary,” he said. “Minimum force is necessary. If you see eight armed men, the first thing I would think as an intelligence officer is, ‘How can we take these guys and capture them?’ We don’t want to kill people arbitrarily; we want the intel take.

“Now, most importantly, when you see that van show up to take away the wounded, do not target or strike anyone who has surrendered or is out of combat due to sickness or wounds. So, the wound part of that I find disturbing, being that you clearly have people down, you have people on the way there. Speaking as an intelligence officer, my intent is to capture people, to recover them. That is the idea here. If you’re not really doing that, you’re not really doing precise combat.”

Salon writer Glenn Greenwald, who also appeared on MSNBC to discuss the leaked video, later wrote that the footage ” is truly gruesome and difficult even for the most hardened person to watch, but it should be viewed by everyone with responsibility for what the U.S. has done in Iraq and Afghanistan (i.e., every American citizen).”

This video is from MSNBC’s The Dylan Ratigan Show, broadcast April 5, 2010.



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