Five Years of Intimidation Fails to Silence Truth-Tellers

Curt Wechsler | April 5, 2015

On the 5th Anniversary of the Release of Collateral Murder, Thank You Chelsea Manning!

Julian Assange knows the power of protest. “I still enjoy crushing bastards [illegitimate arbiters of state power]” the WikiLeaks founder recently told L’Espresso journalist Di Stefania Maurizi. Publication of a secret military video showing U.S. murder of civilians in Baghdad has irrevocably altered the lives of Assange and whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Sacrificing personal liberty to challenge terror on the Middle East, the two exposed “friendly fire” cover for targeted assassination. “Collateral Murder” occasioned vigorous government suppression of independent investigative reporting on the massacre of innocents.

The “random American bombardment” report by Iraqi police on the July 12, 2007 airstrikecontradicts the official Army narrative that U.S. forces were being attacked. Witnesses at the scene told a different story. According to Karim Shindakh, ”The aircraft began striking randomly and people were wounded. A Kia [mini-van] arrived to take them away. They hit the Kia and killed … the two journalists." Leaked video footage documents 18 dead from 3 separate airstrikes.

The human hunting game revealed by this video is disturbing and shocking. “Light ´em up”, “Look at those dead bastards”, “Nice”, “All right, hahaha, I hit ’em ...”, “Yeah, we got one guy crawling around down there. ...” “Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle,” these are some of the words they exchanged. The rules of engagement (ROE) are “engage and destroy” or “shoot first, ask after”, but here was not a battle; there was not a hostile fire; the helicopter was not attacked or targeted.

Evidence presented in “Collateral Murder” is impossible to ignore — it made the Pentagon furious and WikiLeaks famous around the world. American soldier Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years of prison for revealing the true face of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the atrocities of Guantanamo and the secrets of US diplomacy. But the events recorded in this video do not reflect an isolated case. Veterans hold that what occurs has been commonplace, since the invasion in Iraq. Soldiers did as they were trained to do. We must challenge the nature of how U.S. war is carried out. The whole system is guilty.  

As much as we value the courageous actions of Assange, Manning, Snowden, Kiriakou, we recognize the enormity of the task to hold our government accountable for crimes against humanity. It’s up to us to unite with the truth-tellers. Our actions can prove that a better world is possible.

Curt Wechsler is a member of the national Steering Committee of World Can't Wait.