Cross-posted at Daily Kos.
Iraq Videos From the Insurgents: Terrorism expert Evan Kohlmann has posted video footage, filmed by the insurgency’s documentarians, that features “ongoing insurgent operations targeting coalition military and Iraqi security forces” since April 27.
And yesterday, for the first time, freelance journalist Kevin Sites permitted the posting of the entire unedited video “of the Marine shooting a wounded Iraqi in a Fallujah mosque last year,” reports blogger Dan Gillmor. Sites allowed NPR’s “Day To Day” to post a link to the video following Sites’ appearance on the show yesterday (audio).
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The Marine corporal in question appears to fire a round from his weapon into the Iraqi’s head, and another Marine says, “Dead now.” (“Day to Day“)
At his own site Kevin Sikes [PHOTO BELOW] talks about his inner turmoil since his video of the mosque shooting became worldwide news:
To Devil Dogs of the 3.1:
Since the shooting in the Mosque, I’ve been haunted that I have not been able to tell you directly what I saw or explain the process by which the world came to see it as well. As you know, I’m not some war zone tourist with a camera who doesn’t understand that ugly things happen in combat. I’ve spent most of the last five years covering global conflict. But I have never in my career been a ‘gotcha’ reporter — hoping for people to commit wrongdoings so I can catch them at it.
This week I’ve even been shocked to see myself painted as some kind of anti-war activist. Anyone who has seen my reporting on television or has read the dispatches on this website is fully aware of the lengths I’ve gone to play it straight down the middle — not to become a tool of propaganda for the left or the right.
But I find myself a lightning rod for controversy in reporting what I saw occur in front of me, camera rolling.
It’s time you to have the facts from me, in my own words, about what I saw — without imposing on that Marine — guilt or innocence or anything in between. I want you to read my account and make up your own minds about whether you think what I did was right or wrong. All the other armchair analysts don’t mean a damn to me.
Here it goes.
It’s Saturday morning and we’re still at our strong point from the night before, a clearing between a set of buildings on the southern edge of the city. The advance has been swift, but pockets of resistance still exist. In fact, we’re taking sniper fire from both the front and the rear.
Weapons Company uses its 81’s (mortars) where they spot muzzle flashes. …
When we arrive at the front entrance, we see that another squad has already entered before us.
The lieutenant asks them, “Are there people inside?”
One of the Marines raises his hand signaling five.
“Did you shoot them,” the lieutenant asks?
“Roger that, sir, ” the same Marine responds.
“Were they armed?” The Marine just shrugs and we all move inside.
… I see the same black plastic body bags spread around the mosque. [M]ore surprising, I see the same five men that were wounded from Friday as well. It appears that one of them is now dead and three are bleeding to death from new gunshot wounds. The fifth is partially covered by a blanket and is in the same place and condition he was in on Friday, near a column. He has not been shot again. I look closely at both the dead and the wounded. There don’t appear to be any weapons anywhere.
“These were the same wounded from yesterday,” I say to the lieutenant. He takes a look around and goes outside the mosque with his radio operator to call in the situation to Battalion Forward HQ.
I see an old man in a red kaffiyeh lying against the back wall. Another is face down next to him, his hand on the old man’s lap — as if he were trying to take cover. I squat beside them, inches away and begin to videotape them. Then I notice that the blood coming from the old man’s nose is bubbling. A sign he is still breathing. So is the man next to him.
While I continue to tape, a Marine walks up to the other two bodies about fifteen feet away, but also lying against the same back wall.
Then I hear him say this about one of the men:
“He’s fucking faking he’s dead — he’s faking he’s fucking dead.”
Through my viewfinder I can see him raise the muzzle of his rifle in the direction of the wounded Iraqi. There are no sudden movements, no reaching or lunging.
However, the Marine could legitimately believe the man poses some kind of danger. Maybe he’s going to cover him while another Marine searches for weapons.
Instead, he pulls the trigger. There is a small splatter against the back wall and the man’s leg slumps down.
“Well he’s dead now,” says another Marine in the background.
I am still rolling. I feel the deep pit of my stomach. The Marine then abruptly turns away and strides away, right past the fifth wounded insurgent lying next to a column. He is very much alive and peering from his blanket. He is moving, even trying to talk. …
[T]wo other marines in the room raise their weapons as the man tries to talk.
For a moment, I’m paralyzed still taping with the old man in the foreground. I … tell the Marines again, what I had told the lieutenant — that this man — all of these wounded men — were the same ones from yesterday. That they had been disarmed treated and left here.
[T]he Marine who fired the shot became aware that I was in the room. He came up to me and said, “I didn’t know sir-I didn’t know.” The anger that seemed present just moments before turned to fear and dread.
The wounded man then tries again to talk to me in Arabic.
He says, “Yesterday I was shot… please… yesterday I was shot over there — and talked to all of you on camera — I am one of the guys from this whole group. I gave you information. Do you speak Arabic? I want to give you information.” (This man has since reportedly been located by the Naval Criminal Investigation Service which is handling the case.)
In the aftermath, the first question that came to mind was why had these wounded men been left in the mosque?
It was answered by staff judge advocate Lieutenant Colonel Bob Miller — who interviewed the Marines involved following the incident. After being treated for their wounds on Friday by Navy Corpsman (I personally saw their bandages) the insurgents were going to be transported to the rear when time and circumstances allowed.
The area, however, was still hot. And there were American casualties to be moved first.
Also, the squad that entered the mosque on Saturday was different than the one that had led the attack on Friday.
It’s reasonable to presume they may not have known that these insurgents had already been engaged and subdued a day earlier.
Yet when this new squad engaged the wounded insurgents on Saturday, perhaps really believing they had been fighting or somehow posed a threat — those Marines inside knew from their training to check the insurgents for weapons and explosives after disabling them, instead of leaving them where they were and waiting outside the mosque for the squad I was following to arrive.
More from Xeni Jardin at BoingBoing:
Sites has made the complete, unedited video available for viewing online. During the discussion with NPR’s Chadwick, Sites said that while releasing only an edited version of the tape seemed at the time like the most responsible thing to do, given the heated political context — he now questions that decision. Should media second-guess the public’s ability to handle the whole truth? Would the additional detail have provided context that might have changed the way the public understood the incident?