"…the second unarmed survivor as Mr. Chmagh, who runs along a row of houses until he too, is shot, and lies writhing on the ground – apparently unable to get up. The helicopter keeps its cross-hairs on the injured man while one of the US soldiers jokingly pleads over his radio "all you have to do is pickup up a weapon" – which would have allowed him to finish the man off under US rules of engagement at the time. There is no weapon visible.
Shortly thereafter, a minivan pulls up alongside the injured Iraqi. From aboard the US helicopter, a soldier asks, "Can I shoot?" and is then heard requesting "permission to engage?" At that point, another voice – presumably an officer not on scene – asks if the van is "picking up the wounded" and is told that they are. Two Iraqis from the van carry the wounded man around the side of the van to load him inside.
An American voice with the call sign "Bushmaster 7" says, "Roger, engage." One of the helicopters blankets the van with machine-gun fire. The two Iraqis who were loading the wounded man inside scattered, but are quickly cut down as they try to flee" Dan Murphy
What happened here?
1- The attack helicopter was evidently there to provide fire support for US infantry in a nearby street. These ground troops are the men in Bradley AFVs who show up after the helicopter stopped killing people.
2- The helicopter was supposed to shoot up people identified under ROE existing then as insurgents. This identification depended on things like carrying weapons or activity that indicated hostile status. Correct me if I am mistaken, but I do not think that shooting people carrying off what are believed to enemy wounded is a violation of the law of war unless the "bearers" are marked as medical personnel. Is that cruel and heartless? Yes. Sherman was right.
3- The helicopter crew was clearly "leaning forward" in its eagerness to do the job. I think this is what shocks and surprises a lot of civilians who would like to think of soldiers as wounded or victimized children. Don't worry, the passing of years will bring all the emotional stress that a therapist might hope for.
4- In any event. their higher headquarters (probably that of the infantry they were supporting) cleared them "hot" to engage, cleared them twice in fact.
5- Bottom line from the Army's point of view – a misidentification of the victims by the helicopter crew.
6- Cover Up? No. A local inquiry would undoubtedly decide that this was an accident, stupid, but an accident. Since this would not be legally actionable, that would be the end of it. The Army does not think it has an obligation to inform the public when its people "screw up."
Step back and look at this from the perspective of the whole war. The decision to invade Iraq and to introduce a heavily armed and very capable modern fighting force into an urban combat environment led directly to that moment in Baghdad when two men, probably in their mid-twenties, decided to kill a group of unfortunates on the street below. The conditions of the war made this sort of thing inevitable.
In a very real sense the Bush Administration itself killed these people. pl