The U.S. military is taking issue with the outcry over a leaked video showing the killing of a Reuters journalist and his driver when an Army helicopter crew opened fire on them as they walked in a Baghdad neighborhood in 2007.
"Combat operations are complex and any attempt to summarize them risks taking things out of context," said Maj. John Redfield, a spokesman for the United States Central Command. "It doesn't show the entire picture of everything that happened."
The Web site Wikileaks.com released what it describes as an 18-minute video shot from an Apache helicopter gun site. Redfield said the video, which shows more than a dozen men killed in a hail of 30-mm cannon fire, appears to be authentic.
Several military-related blogs, including VeteransToday.com, have been strongly critical of the shootings. And a spokesperson for the Committee to Protect Journalists said the organization planned to ask the Pentagon to reopen an investigation into the incident.
"News flash: picking up wounded bodies is not a hostile act," wrote a self-described Black Hawk pilot and Iraq veteran on the blog "Wings over Iraq."
The video, apparently taken as the flight crew monitored a group of insurgents on the ground, shows the gunner focusing on a journalist among them who was carrying a camera, then opening fire on the crowd. Later, as rescuers who arrive in a van try to pull a gravely wounded Reuters employee inside, the gunner fires on the rescuers, wounding two children among them.
The report concluded that the crew, which was escorting a U.S. ground patrol, fired after seeing an individual near the Reuters journalist crouching to fire a rocket-propelled grenade toward U.S. troops.
"There was neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces," the report stated.