on April 5, 2010 Wikileaks published ‘Collateral Murder’ showing US soldiers in an Apache helicopter indiscriminately targeting and firing upon 18 unarmed civilians including two Reuters journalists in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad. This targeting of innocents happened in a residential neighborhood. Laundry was hanging from lines, people going about their daily lives, trying to adapt to living in a war zone – trying to maintain a level of normality.
The 39-minutes of classified footage, filmed by the US military on July 12, 2007, shows the gunship circling above a group of 10 men, going about their business in the suburb of Al-Amin al-Thaniyah. The soldiers on board anxiously asked for permission to open fire on the individuals who posed no conceivable threat. When the signal was given, the soldiers, like boys playing a video game, joyfully let loose with 30 mm cannon fire, congratulating each other. “Oh yeah! Look at those dead bastards! Nice.”
The military’s official statement of these war crimes was that the deaths had occurred ‘during a firefight with insurgents’ – claiming that cameras were firearms. The US government continued to lie to the families, Reuters, and the public. It wasn’t until Julian Assange and WikiLeaks released the video in 2010 that the public learned the truth. A decade on and none of those responsible for this 2007 massacre depicted in the video, or for the illegal invasion of Iraq which resulted in the deaths of over a million people, has been brought to justice.
The only individuals who have suffered any repercussions as a result of Collateral Murder are Chelsea Manning, the courageous US army intelligence analyst who leaked the video, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who published it. Assange was dragged out of his political asylum in April 2019 and faces 175 years under the Espionage Act. It is the first time in history that the US is attempting to prosecute a journalist. Assange’s only ‘offense’ is exposing war crimes. Journalism is not a crime. Our press freedom and First Amendment are under attack. We must call on President Biden to drop all charges and free Julian Assange!