* By Robert Parry Consortiumnews *
The next time CNN’s Wolf Blitzer boasts about George W. Bush’s “successful surge” in Iraq or Newsweek hails “Victory at Last,” you should think of the video released by Wikileaks.org this week showing the killing of a group of Iraqi men, including two Reuters newsmen, as they walked nonchalantly through the streets of Baghdad.
Not only did a U.S. military helicopter gunship mow them down amid macho jokes and chuckling – after mistaking a couple of cameras for weapons – but the American attackers then blew away several Iraqis who arrived in a van and tried to take one of the wounded newsmen to a hospital. Two children in the van were badly wounded.
“Well, it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle,” one American remarked.
The videotaped incident – entitled “Collateral Murder” by Wikileaks – occurred on July 12, 2007, in the midst of President Bush’s much-heralded troop “surge,” which the U.S. news media has widely credited for reducing violence in Iraq and bringing something close to victory for the United States.
But the U.S. press corps rarely mentions that the “surge” represented one of the bloodiest periods of the war. Beyond the horrific – and untallied – death toll of Iraqis, more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers died during Bush’s “surge” of an additional 30,000 troops into Iraq.
It’s also unclear that the “surge” deserves much if any credit for the gradual decline in Iraqi violence, which had already reached turning points in 2006 with the death of al-Qaeda leader Musab al-Zarqawi and the U.S.-funded Sunni Awakening against al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Furthermore, what Bush had already done – both by invading Iraq in 2003 in violation of international law and then permitting loose rules of engagement – had inflicted unspeakable horrors on the people of Iraq.
Bush turned some U.S. soldiers into wanton murderers who had wide latitude to kill Iraqi “military-age males” or MAMS. Yet, it remains out of bounds for the U.S. mainstream news media to deal honestly with these painful issues or to suggest that Bush should be held accountable as a war criminal.
There was a reason why the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II declared that “to initiate a war of aggression … is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” The Wikileaks video represents one piece of that “accumulated evil” that Bush unpacked.
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