Black Van Dropping Off Insurgents: Excerpts from written transcript of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade investigation.
For those who are curious about the van and its prior activities, read the following from the investigation:
Link to original document:
Excerpt from written transcript of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade investigation dated 20/07/2007
LTC At what time did you get tally on any weapons?
CW3 We saw the RPG at the corner, and then we came around the building and saw the guys huddled with weapons just before we engaged.
LTC When did you first identify the van?
CW3 The initial indication, sir when we rolled up and checked in, they said we had a black car, blue car, can’t remember probably black, 4-door passenger vehicle that keeps dropping off enemy personnel and picking them up from that area. So out initial indication of that was when we first arrived at the scene. After the engagement, it had to have been two to three minutes maybe a little more, but we noticed another vehicle pull up. Initially (NAME REDACTED) was looking at the corner for more weapons and possibly bad guys up there. The van pulled up, guys jumped out, before we had the chance to get the line of site down there, I noticed individuals moving to where the bodies were and where the weapons were. That’s why I immediately called the ground guy and said we have guys extracting personnel and weapons.
LTC That’s good information. I didn’t read anything about the vehicle in your statement. Did the ground guys indicate that the black or blue sedan was there?
CW3 They said a black 4-door sedan. It was dropping off folks, and it was doing it all day they said. I forgot to put that in my debrief, but…
LTC The van comes up, you engage it. Did you acquire or see at anytime the size of shape of people in the van?
CW3 I saw, when they opened the doors, three to four individuals. I saw them go in and out, extract the personnel and weapons, and carry the guy back to the van. I did clear the individuals in the van.
LTC Did you see anything in the van?
CW3 I couldn’t see anything inside the van, but they ran around right after I had seen them extract weapons and individuals.
LTC As you saw on tape, they didn’t have any weapons. So, what drove you then? What threat made you want to engage the van?
CW3 Well the friendlies were 300 meters away and from the initial report that a black car, sedan had been coming and dropping off insurgents, taking them out, moving them to different locations. That was my whole thought process.
End Transcript ————————————————————————–
The 17-minute version uploaded by Wikileaks goes well beyond responsible journalism and the stated mission of Wikileaks to the point where it is propagandistic and misleading. This video, Wikileaks Deception, includes footage not seen in the Wikileaks version and provides the context and necessary annotations to get the full context of the incident, including discussions of hostile gunfire, the presence of an AK-47 and RPG, and other framing factors. To their credit, Wikileaks did include an unedited 39 minute version, but chose to propagate the 17 minute version with deceptive analysis.
Here is another copy, just in case:
UPDATE 11/4/2010: Wikileaks’ 39 minute “full version” is actually missing roughly 30 minutes of footage. Read article about yet another deception here at gawker and mypetjawa: http://tiny.cc/lqzjl
UPDATE 10/4/2010: Reposted video on Youtube. We will see how long it is up before they remove it.
UPDATE 9/4/2010: This video was removed from YouTube for “graphic or gratuitous violence”, yet they leave other ones defamatory of US soldiers. Will repost later.
Some scenes, Wikileaks conveniently left out of 17-minute version:
0:26 The “Black van” dropping off possible insurgents.
0:46 “We got a target fifteen coming at you, it’s a guy with a weapon.”
1:05 “One of them has a weapon.”
1:27 Guy carrying AK-47, and other with RPG (no way it a tripod) that had previously fired on U.S. Troops. WikiLeak video distracts you with letter box about a camera Bag).
3:53 “Roger, be advised, there were some guys popping out with the AKs behind that dirt pile. Break.”
4:25 “Uh, location, I have about 12 to 15 dead bodies. Where else were you taking fire from?”
4:34 They had AK-47s and were to our East. So, where we were taking small arms fire, over.
4:59 “I also wanted to make sure you knew that we had a guy with an RPG crouching around the corner, Getting ready to fire on your location. That’s why we requested permission to engage.”
5:17 (IMPORTANT) “Six this is four, I got one individual looks like he’s got an RPG round laying underneath him. Break.” (Note: Four was at the scene of the shooting and found an RPG, of course wikileaks left that out).
5:43 “ I can hear small arms fire from your engagement area…”
6:10 “Right about where we engaged? Yeah, one of them with that RPG or whatever.”
6:19 “He’s got a weapon. Got an RP–, uh AK-47.”
6:34 “Roger, we have another individual with a weapon.”
The WikiLeaks transcription is poor in areas, as well. For instance, one part in their version they claim one guy said “F—ing Prick”. It was not “prick, it was “break”. Not sure the word before it, sounded cut off.
HERE IS THE OFFICIAL INVESTIGATION INTO THE INCIDENT, PLEASE READ.
2nd Brigade Combat Team 15-6 Investigation
USE OF CAMERAS: Should also note that a tactic used in battle is to take pictures using high powered lenses to gather intel on troop location, size, and armament. Photos would then be shared with the RPG carrier for more precise target acquisition. Not saying this was the case here, but that does happen. Tragic as it is, one should know better than to aim what looks like a weapon at ground troops with surveilling Apache Copters overhead, especially when standing next to insurgents carrying an RPG and AK-47s.
HERE ARE SOME GREAT POSTS REGARDING PHOTOGRAPHY BEING USED TACTICALLY BY “1Armywife”
I just showed my husband this footage. He was there and had a role in reviewing the investigation on this case. His response below might clarify some things.
This footage shows the final engagement of the Reuters field reporters in New Baghdad. Missing is the overwatch video and earlier AH64 footage showing the development of the situation where the two reporters and armed men supported by a van and cars were shadowing a Coalition patrol. These reporters accompanied the armed men who were tracking a Coalition patrol about a city block away. The camera man would peek around corners to shoot a few digital frames of the patrol and then show the pictures to the armed men. If you have all the video footage, you will see this activity happened repeatedly. The operational suspicion was that this was enemy TTP (tactic, technic, or procedure) to help prepare for an attack; the digital photos would be used to quickly evaluate the target — to judge what it looked like, its shape, distance, terrain in between, where to aim, etc. This way, the RPG operator would select the right warhead, he’d preset the mechanical sights (elevation), and fix in his mind a visual picture of the target so he would limit his exposure time when stepping out in the street to fire. The recovered camera showed how the cameral man was aiding the enemy. What you also don’t have is the operational history of RPG attacks in New Baghdad. This was heavy JAM territory. I understand that it is disturbing to see calculated killing, but the engagement was not without cause. The engagement of the van should be understood in the overall context of earlier events. It is obvious the AH64 pilots and the operational commander conferred. This was not a war crime. A Soldier
1ARMYWIFE THEN RESPONDS TO CONSPIRACY THEORISTS
Look, I showed him the video and he had something to say about it that I thought might be of interest and put things in perspective. The most salient facts were that this engagement lasted 40 minutes and not merely eight as is seen here. Footage of the scene was taken from multiple viewpoints, i.e. other helicopters, so you don’t see all of the activity. Finally, whether they were willing partners or not, the cameramen were helping the insurgents by providing them with visual information, and this is on the footage that the leaked film does not include. You can see a bit of this activity when the camera man peeks around the corner, takes some shots and then goes back and all of the other guys gather around him to check out the pictures. Remember, this is a war zone and not a place where sharing photos of the scenery was considered normal. Our soldiers believed this information was going to be used to help aim RPGs, and the camera the cameraman was carrying confirmed this. My husband never said that what happened to the van was right, just that it occurred in a broader context than was shown here. With all the sensationalism in the media, he just thought the extra info might be useful and give a clearer picture of what was happening. These film makers had a story to tell. Unfortunately, they left out the fair and balanced parts.
Happyco, yes, that point was reviewed in the command inquiry. The van, or another like it, was suspected of providing weapon support to the fighters in earlier footage. The van did not display the protected symbols (red crescent or red cross), so the situation depended on a judgment whether the fighter had “fallen out of combat” (as you say per the Law of War and ROE). The command did review the van response to the scene for lessons learned. The gunners reported collection of wounded and weapons and requested authorization to fire. I can’t say the same command authorization based on the information relayed by the gunners would have been made if a commander were personally viewing in real time. It was a terrible consequence that could have been avoided. I understand Reuters subsequently issued a policy to all field reporters to avoid running with armed insurgents.
Model127, There is earlier footage showing armed men going to and from a van and some cars. That conduct produced the suspicion. I’m not aware of any additional evidence like weapons found in the van. It very well could have been – probably(?) – good samaritans reacting to help. No clear way to tell at the time, however. The gunners thought they saw insurgent activity.
WikiLeak Claims this similar looking vehicle was the one in the “Collateral Murder” video.
But here is the actual black coloured van after shooting had ceased; the front was never blown apart like in the photo they posted on their website.