News Release

Air Power: “Deadly Inaccurate”


Independent journalists David Enders and Rick Rowley interviewed Iraqi witnesses the day after the July 2007 attack shown in military video released this week by Wikileaks. The leaked video shows Iraqis, including people working for Reuters, attacked — and then shows people in a van attempting to rescue the wounded being fired upon.

Rear Admiral Hal Pittman, director of communications at Central Command, said in a statement to Reuters on Thursday: “Central Command has no current plans to reinvestigate or review this combat action.”

CENTCOM this week made public a redacted series of records on the case; according to the First Air Cavalry Brigade, the military concluded shortly after the attack that the aircrew “accurately assessed that the criteria to find and terminate the threat to friendly forces were met in accordance with the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement.”

Enders, who spent over 18 months covering the war in Iraq, is author of the book Baghdad Bulletin. Rowley, who has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for Big Noise Films, was interviewed Thursday on “Democracy Now.” The segment features video of him and Enders interviewing civilians the day after the attack.

Enders said today: “The [leaked] video clearly supports Iraqi eyewitness accounts of what happened and contradicts the military account. This is common — the military press releases and statements rarely gel with Iraqi eyewitness accounts. In the case of any helicopter strike, footage exists, and the military could resolve disputes by simply releasing it. Instead, the military relies on ‘investigations’ that rarely, if ever, go beyond asking questions of the unit involved. Iraqis are never independently interviewed.”

Rowley said today: “Essentially the U.S. military tried to blame the reporters for causing this. There is no reason to conclude that any of the people in that picture are insurgents. You can see two men with weapons, but this is 2007 in Baghdad. This is the height of the civil war, when dozens of bodies a day were being picked up from the street. Every neighborhood in Baghdad organized its own protection force.”

Rowley has also reported from Afghanistan. He added: “Everyone in the U.S. military — from General McChrystal on down — publicly recognizes the problem of civilian casualties from air strikes. But fundamentally, you need air power — either planes or helicopters or drones run out of Nevada — to control a country of many millions when you only have one or two hundred thousand troops. And the nature of air power is that it’s deadly inaccurate.'”

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167