By: Kristine Frazao
You could say it was the latest batch of shots heard round the world, brought to the world by WikiLeaks. Millions watched in horror as the Apache Pilots with the US Army treated killing as a game.
Among those killed in the July 2007 clash seen in the video were two Reuters’ employees: Photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his assistant and driver, Saeed Chmagh.
“Even someone who is crawling, prostate on the ground wounded, they are looking for an excuse to kill,” said WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange.
But this is far from an isolated incident. Since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan started, more than 300 journalists have been killed, many by the actions of US forces.
This includes British journalist Terry Lloyd, a veteran correspondent with Britain’s Independent Television News.
He was wounded in the crossfire of a battle in Basra, Iraq, and then put in a makeshift ambulance by Iraqis … an investigation revealed US forces then shot at the vehicle, hitting Lloyd in the head and killing him.
The following month, on April 8, 2003, US forces targeted media outlets in Iraq, including Abu Dhabi television, and Al Jazeera’s office in Bagdad, where correspondent Tareq Ayyoub was killed in the middle of a live report.
Additionally, the Palestine Hotel, where nearly all journalists from around the world worked, was hit when a US Army tank intentionally fired into the building – killing Reuters cameraman Taras Protsyuk and José Couso of Telecinco Spanish Television.
In all of these incidents, US forces behind the attacks were let off the hook, the “Rules of Engagement” often cited as the reason.
Couso’s family has continued to press for justice, their hope renewed with the release of this document on WikiLeaks – a transcript written by a former US ambassador saying, “While we are careful to show our respect for the tragic death of Couso and for the independence of the Spanish judicial system, behind the scenes we have fought tooth and nail to make the charges disappear.”
In addition to the journalists being killed, countless more are arrested by US forces.
Bagram Airbase, a detention facility, called by some the Guantanamo Bay of Afghanistan became home to Jawed Ahmad, a correspondent for Canada’s CTV, for 11 months. He was later released without charge.For Al Jazeera correspondent Sami Al-Haj, it was six years at Guantanamo Bay. His crime – crossing the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan. He too was released without charge.
“It’s clear that the U.S. military targets these people because they aren’t towing the line,” said journalist Dave Lindorff.“They’re not embedded; they’re not playing the game.”
Lindorff said it’s been a common pattern for US authorities, especially when international journalists report on subjects like election corruption, or talk to the Taliban as well as US forces in order to get both sides of certain stories.
“They’re so used to these people being just stenographers of whatever they say that when a reporter goes out and does what American reporters used to do,” Lindorff commented.