06 April 2010


The liberal media is up in arms over the release of some gun camera film taken in 2007 showing the death of two Reuters News Agency correspondents who were traveling with a group of armed Iraqi insurgents. According to a CNN report accompanying the videotape -- which was originally posted on a web site called WikiLeaks, “a site that publishes anonymously submitted documents, video and other sensitive materials,”-- “the video. . . clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers."

In fact, the attack was clearly provoked. The two Reuters employees assumed the risk of attaching themselves to an armed unit of an opposing force. As Ernie Pyle understood, they paid their dime and took their chances, with no guarantees.

A unit of the 16th Infantry had been in contact with an armed group of insurgents at a location about 100 meters from where the “unprovoked slaying” occurred. Small arms fire was received from the insurgents during the engagement and continued after the helicopters attacked. The two Reuters employees were traveling in the midst of the insurgents who were firing at American forces. The insurgents were armed with AKM rifles and a rocket propelled grenade launcher and warhead. One of the Reuters men carried a camera with a telephoto lens. Just before the helicopters were cleared to fire, he was seen peering around the corner of a building toward an American vehicle parked 100 meters away. Only part of the lens protruded around the building edge, and from the air, it would have looked like the RPG launcher actually being carried by another insurgent.

Two gunships were supporting the ground forces, were being controlled from the ground, and were following up on a nearby firefight between insurgents and an Army unit. After initially taking this group of armed insurgents under fire,the helicopters saw a van drive up and three military age individuals were seen jumping out and loading one wounded man into the van. From what I saw, it appeared that at least one weapon was also tossed in the van. The helicopters were then cleared to fire on the van.

After US troops reached the scene, they found a number of dead insurgents, several weapons, and two wounded children in the van. The children were evacuated to an Iraqi hospital where they apparently later died. One wounded insurgent was captured and treated by US forces.

Neither of the Reuters employees was wearing anything to identify them as correspondents, not that it would have mattered, and neither had alerted US forces that they would be accompanying insurgents. I say “not that it would have mattered” because by being present in the midst of a group that was engaging US forces, they assumed the risk that they might be taken under fire and either killed or wounded.

The incident was promptly investigated by the Army in accordance with army regulations. The Investigating Officer determined that the helicopter crew (sic) had "neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces."

The loony left is beside themselves because of what they erroneously perceive as a violation of the law of war. Journalists and children were killed, they say, and that is wrong. And the helicopter crew, having just engaged an armed enemy, made the kind of adrenaline-tinged comments that warriors have always made after counting coup.

Sad, yes. Wrong, no. As one of the helicopter crew, probably on an adrenaline high, is heard to say, people ought not bring their kids to a battle.

The presence of non-combatants in the midst of a group of combatants, especially a group of combatants engaging or about to engage US forces, does not render them safe. In fact, if they were using non-combatants as a shield, it is the insurgents who have violated the law of war.

The children were present, but not visible, in an unmarked vehicle that was apparently attempting to evacuate a wounded insurgent and weapons. That made the vehicle a legitimate target.

This is just another case of a bunch of people who do not understand the deadly seriousness of war crying “foul” when there was no foul. A press, protected by the First Amendment—which is, in turn, protected by our forces who are fighting an enemy who has no respect for freedom of the press or any other freedom—can hide behind the First as they spread malicious lies and mischaracterizations.

And the American people will let them get away with it!

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