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US soldier charged over Apache Wikileaks video

Updated July 7, 2010 06:18:00

Bradley Manning

Charged: Bradley Manning (Twitter)

An American soldier suspected of leaking video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike which killed civilians in Baghdad has been charged, the US military said.

The video of the July 2007 attack, in which two employees of the Reuters news agency were killed, made headlines around the world after it was posted on the Wikileaks website.

A US Army statement says Private First Class Bradley Manning, held in a military jail in Kuwait since last month, faces two charges of misconduct.

Wikileaks released a decrypted copy of the military video in April.

It shows several people, including the Reuters employees, being killed by fire from the helicopter gunship.

The statement said the first charge against Manning, 22, is for violating army regulations by "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorised software to a classified computer system".

He is accused in a second charge of "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source".

WikiLeaks at the time said it obtained the video "from a number of military whistleblowers" and decrypted it.

The gun camera footage included audio conversations between Apache pilots and controllers in which they identified the men on a Baghdad street as armed insurgents and asked for permission to open fire.

Two of the men were later identified as Reuters employees Nameer Nuraddin Hussein, a 22-year-old photographer, and Saeed Chmagh, 44, a driver.

Their families, who said they have until now received no compensation for the incident, have demanded that the Americans responsible should stand trial.

After the leaked and graphic footage was released the White House described the incident as "tragic", insisting that US forces in war zones take pains to avoid civilian casualties.


Tags: information-and-communication, internet, law-crime-and-justice, courts-and-trials, unrest-conflict-and-war, iraq, united-states

First posted July 7, 2010 06:06:00

Comments (55)

Comments for this story are closed, but you can still have your say.

  • Petrov:

    07 Jul 2010 7:39:50am

    Yeah, we can't have soldiers showing that we do this. if we start that trend there's a chance people find out this is what Yanks do best, rock music in the ears and blast at anything on two legs from a safe distance so they can't shoot back and then proclaim ourtselves heroes.

    Agree (4) Alert moderator

    • Sinekal:

      07 Jul 2010 9:02:49am

      Petrov, What the Yanks now do best is use drones rather than Apaches.. less people to see and more deniability.

      It also helps when you are blasting the citizens of a sovereign state such as Pakistan against whom you have not declared war.

      Keep looking over your shoulder.. there might be a drone about to blast some suspects in your street. You know, the innocent refugees who are arriving here to escape oppression from within the liberated Afghanistan ?

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • bad-dad:

      07 Jul 2010 9:18:37am

      yes the drones... dropping bombs on weddings and then the funerals (no music blaring, just coffee cups next to the keyboard these days), nine to fivers clocking on, clocking off, hi hon i'm home

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Guido:

    07 Jul 2010 7:44:28am

    Typical. Whenever a scandal breaks, the first person locked up is ..... the messenger.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Michael:

      07 Jul 2010 10:22:15am

      Guido, in this case, it was Bradley Manning's own fault. He bragged about having leaked this video and thousands of other pieces of military classified information. While leaking the video was a good thing, not keeping your trap shut about it was his own fault.

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  • JOAN:

    07 Jul 2010 7:52:22am

    Too bad the USA will not sign up for the War Crimes Tribunal. Australia should demand that they do and untill then we will not get involved in any further US wars.

    Agree (1) Alert moderator

    • Politically Incorrect:

      07 Jul 2010 9:12:10am

      They will never do that because it conflicts with the US mantra that they are perfect and infalliable.

      Better to just cover up their evils and pretend they are perfect than admit wrongdoings.

      Agree (1) Alert moderator

  • James:

    07 Jul 2010 7:58:43am

    The Truth is not a crime.

    We need a bill of rights to protect people when all they to is reveal or speak the truth.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • mik:

    07 Jul 2010 8:00:26am

    of course he should be charged. He destroyed all the carefully scripted propaganda by showing the truth. Thats not the American way!

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • DSMatthews:

    07 Jul 2010 8:00:52am

    If all employees of news agencies had to wear tracking devices (GPS+mobile phone) when in war zones then this tragedy would have been avoided. A couple of hundred dollars per person, at most. The equipment is readily available for purchase on the Internet so there is no excuse for not using it.

    Given these facts, there are management people at Reuters who have these men's blood on their hands as well as the military person who made the mistaken I.D. and the ones who gave the permission to fire.

    But will the media admit this? No, they are biased when incidents involve their own people.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Adam:

      07 Jul 2010 8:31:52am

      Hmmm... Yeah tagging the media... That'd work,

      Except then you would have people targeting the so called non combatants for their transponders and uplinks.

      Perhaps they should have these implanted under their skins?

      In wars bad things happen. If it were an entrenched reporter, would he or she be held in prison for putting the story out? I think in Australia (I hope in Australia) the answer would be no. In the countries where press freedom goes against the nation's ideas - I'd say they probably would be getting their meals from the counter right next to Bradley Manning.

      Should he be locked up for sending out something which he was appalled at? Hell no. Although he should have been a little more circumspect in the way it was done.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Aunty Social:

      07 Jul 2010 8:33:59am

      "If all employees of news agencies had to wear tracking devices (GPS+mobile phone) when in war zones then this tragedy would have been avoided."

      Stevie Wonder could see that those people were non-combattants. Any placement of blame on the victims only raises the obscenity to a higher level.

      Agree (1) Alert moderator

    • tomess:

      07 Jul 2010 8:47:23am

      Dear DS

      Hi. A few years ago some journalists for Al Jazeera (Arab news service) gave the US military the GPS co-ordinates for their Baghdad office.

      They too, were 'mistakenly' attacked, in a manner that was later described by other journalists as quite deliberate.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • mixmaxmin:

      07 Jul 2010 8:53:30am

      If you can tag the media you can tag the combatants... let's just tag everyone then we can electronically identify who's who and and have an electronic war... no need to shoot anyone. Problem solved. Such naive commentary here!

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Andy:

      07 Jul 2010 8:59:06am

      No, they would have been shot earlier.
      The US forces actively targeted media buildings, so it is not such a stretch to assume this was "tactics".

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • RoyB:

    07 Jul 2010 8:02:33am

    Lets see, this soldier exposes deliberate Pentagon / State Dept. lies, so the US makes him the criminal?
    Isnt it grand we are so entrenched in the US war machine?
    WE, unlike, THEM, are all about truth and democracy, aren't we ?

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • James Barlow:

    07 Jul 2010 8:04:22am

    How does the fact that this incident was described in great detail in David Finkel's 2009 book 'The Good Soldiers', which was released before the Wikileaks 'exclusive' never gets mentioned? Or the fact the David Finkel was a guest of Phillip Adams on LNL in March this year discussing his book? Or that Finkel's book couldn't have been written without the close cooperation of the US military? You guys are searching so desperately for an anti-US angle you're missing a lot of the context.

    Agree (2) Alert moderator

    • Aunty Social:

      07 Jul 2010 8:24:12am

      It was better than "described in great detail". There was a word for word transcript of the dialogue between the person giving the order to shoot and the gunner.

      After Wikileaks released the video recording the question was then raised as to how Finkel had obtained the audio, and why he did nothing with the information until it was published in his book. That he never saw fit to immediately file the story with The Washington Post, the newspaper he works for, but sat on it until his book was released deserves explanation.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Brewster:

    07 Jul 2010 8:04:58am

    Technically, and for good reason, the lad is probably guilty. BUT MORALLY his action disclosed a shocking event. There's the rub. On the one hand ------ etc

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Jeremyjj:

    07 Jul 2010 8:19:44am

    This is like when William Calley (Responsible for the Mi Lai Massacre) was pardoned after 1 day in Prison. God Bless America

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Idontwannankow:

    07 Jul 2010 8:26:36am

    What happens on the battlefield stays on the battlefield I say. I do not hear the bleeding heart brigade calling on Al Qaeda to release some of their videos showing them killing innocent civilians. Perhaps we could have some prime time showings of some be-headings, a suicide bombing or two or maybe just a few little family executions.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • petery53:

      07 Jul 2010 9:05:06am

      but the americans are supposed to be the good guys,you expect that type of behavior from Al Qaeda

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Peter of Mitcham:

    07 Jul 2010 8:27:34am

    Yes it is revolting how this young soldier will no doubt pay a high price for his actions. Johnny Cash said (sang) it, "The lonely voice of youth asking, what is truth?" People are outraged at this and want to stop this public lying but we are all entangled in mortgages, educating our kids, trying to remain employed ... vale freedom

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Politically Incorrect:

      07 Jul 2010 9:14:55am

      They have yet to accept that you cant get away with lies anymore in the days of the Internet. The truth will surface eventually.

      The true villans in the Iraq war were the Americans, I have been convinced of that since day 1.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • dogeatdog:

        07 Jul 2010 9:53:39am

        "the true villians in the Iraq war were the Americans"

        But did American soldiers strap explosive to themselves and blow up markets, cafes and other public places thereby killing and maiming thousands of innocent people?

        Did American soldiers kidnap and later behead hostages and proudly release the videos of the slaughter?

        I'm not saying the US forces are blameless in the Iraq mess - far from it (remember Abu Gharab prison?) but lets not forget the outrages committed in Iraq by the terrorist forces.

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        • Simon:

          07 Jul 2010 10:14:26am

          "But did American soldiers strap explosive to themselves and blow up markets, cafes and other public places thereby killing and maiming thousands of innocent people?"

          No dogeatdogf, the US preferred to do their blowing up of TENS of thousands of innocent people remotely or from the air!

          Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • nose tone:

    07 Jul 2010 8:31:21am

    Bradley Manning is a hero. He should get a medal, and our support until he does.

    Agree (2) Alert moderator

  • Andy:

    07 Jul 2010 8:58:09am

    So journalism in the public interest is officially dead, and the US is shooting the body to make sure. The whole Iraq episode is criminal. Funny how since 911 there has been a concerted campaign to distort the truth and hide the fact that the US is being run for profit by a bunch of jumped up mercenaries...sorry "contractors".

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Cat:

      07 Jul 2010 9:04:54am

      @ Andy, way to fill your post with so-called "facts" ...nothing but leftist, anti-American hype.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • cinico:

        07 Jul 2010 9:32:45am

        What about these "facts" Haliburton/Dick Cheney/Afghan pipeline, ready to roll from day one of US military operations in Afghanistan. Smells of "contractors" doesn't it. Not leftist or anti US just real circumstance (planned circumstance that is)

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • mik:

        07 Jul 2010 9:44:59am

        ."..nothing but leftist, anti-American hype."

        There seems to be alot of it around these days and not so much pro-American hype............ever wonder why that is?

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • Simon:

        07 Jul 2010 10:17:31am


        If you prefer to fall for the right-wing American propaganda, that is your right - however, don't attack those who have the intelligence to see through it!

        If you still believe the Iraq war was about overthrowing an evil regime and WMDs, then you're probably beyond reasoning with.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Clawd:

    07 Jul 2010 9:04:00am

    Typical tactics from the government...

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Jakke:

    07 Jul 2010 9:09:46am

    Ha, the country of free speech does not like those that speak freely.
    First the Afghanistan commander gets sacked for speaking his mind, and now this.
    Just a tad hypocritical, is it not?

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

    • Richard - USA:

      07 Jul 2010 10:11:52am


      There is a BIG difference between free speech and handling classified material. The Apache videos and transcripts are classified material. The idiot soldier signed a non-diclosure agreement with the U.S. Federal Government. He is in violation of that agreement, therefore he should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Regarding McCrystal, read the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The UCMJ states that a solder (regardless of ones rank) cannot make disparaging remarks of any civilian leaders over the military. I see no hypocrisy here. If you think there is hypocrisy here, then please give your drivers license number, passport number, date of birth, are you married - name of spouse and kids (their birth dates and other information), passwords that you have, and other personal information that you have. What would you think if there was a classified visit to Afghanistan by PM Julia Gillard and some Australian soldier leaked the information to the Taliban and the Taliban killed her? Classified information is the same for both situations.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

      • tomess:

        07 Jul 2010 10:35:05am

        Dear Richard-USA

        Hi. Are you familiar with the Reynolds case? In 1948 an Air Force plane exploded and fell out of the sky onto Georgia (U.S.). The U.S. Air Force refused to surrender documents in response to a criminal neglect case, saying that the report was classified and some requested documents were 'hearsay'.

        The case was later found to involve fraud and the covering up of official crime.

        Yet Reynolds was later used in 62 cases (between 1977 and 2001) to deny evidence to U.S. courts. As U.S. history professor Garry Wills points out ('Bomb Power', 2010), we just don't know how many other cases of fraud or official misconduct have been covered up. Perhaps you might read it.

        The claim 'classified information' can be just a nifty way of covering up a stuff-up, as appears to be so in the Apache case.

        Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Veritas:

    07 Jul 2010 9:10:34am

    Journalists put themselves in harms warm by entering the war zone, and some suffer dire consequences for their own actions in being in harms way. War is just that war, both sides vieing for win at all costs. "the essence of war is violence and moderation in war is imbercility" (Adm Lord St Vincent). The soldier no matter the outcome is sleighted once the danger is past..........

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • din:

    07 Jul 2010 9:15:57am

    at least it will teach the new person who even THINKS about giving the world physical evidence of the USA targettting civilians to not bother.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • David:

    07 Jul 2010 9:23:10am

    Like many parents I teach my kids when they do something wrong to own up and accept the consequences, and never to lie to cover up something they are embarrased about.

    It's kinda sad when our children behave better than our governments.

    I hope everyone posting here has watched the full 38 minute video. I did and I felt sick. If this is how "our side" behaves then heaven help us.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Barrie:

    07 Jul 2010 9:26:12am

    The White House saying the event is 'tragic' is a Whitewash.
    The whistle blower should be exonerated and the military and the US admin should be charged with war crimes. America is on trial here, not the soldier who revealed the truth.

    This is just one example of the many war crimes committed by the US military and others, remember Fallujah and the use of white phosphorus? Abu Ghraib etc etc.
    Somehow its always the lowly private who always gets kicked in the teeth.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Observer:

    07 Jul 2010 9:29:23am

    The old, old story. Don't chase the perpetrators of the crime, chase the person who leaked the story. Exactly why sources such as Wikileaks are so valuable.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Gaz:

    07 Jul 2010 9:34:40am

    Well done Bradley Manning, this reminds us that the 'war machine' is made up of individuals, some of whose integrity is alive and well.

    Still, a charge of misconduct shouldn't go far. Keep the footage coming.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • CK:

    07 Jul 2010 9:38:39am

    We have a moral obligation to face truth and deal honourably with mistakes to prevent their recurrence. Bradley Manning should be treated as a hero for revealing a truth that would otherwise have been dishonourably buried - ABC please keep us informed of the outcomes of charges against this man.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • roger:

    07 Jul 2010 9:41:38am

    Shoot the messenger , its the american way to cover up their dirty oil wars. Saudi's attack the USA , and USA attack Iraq ???? We are now commanded by the yanks now in Pipastan and have to fly with them on missions. Wars are good business for some contractors and suppliers.

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  • Bill Anderson:

    07 Jul 2010 9:42:37am

    LEFT, RIGHT. Now the truth. The soldier made an innocent mistake. The government of America did not want to give free propoganda to it's enemies, but some other soldier decided otherwise, America is the aggressor nation, as it is the occupying force, It has no right to be there. The so-called terrorists are in their own country. They have a right to shoot at an army that invaded them. Just as the American colonials had a right to take on the British. The American soldier has a right to defend himself when faced with what appeared to be a guided missile launcher, Reuters knew the danger, so did the journalists. But they still went straight into a war-zone, Looking like locals, dressed like locals, with a large camera that looks remarkably similar to a hand launched anti-aircraft missile. Why didn't they just place targets on their jackets and get them to scream scream Allah akbah.

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  • Tom Curtis:

    07 Jul 2010 9:43:32am

    First, Bradley Manning is being charged with two purely technical charges of which he is probably guilty. He is charged with technical charges because the release of the video could in no concievable way result in the endangerment of US troops. By releasing the videos, he did not release vital military information. In fact, all he is guilty of is allowing us to see for ourselves that an injustice has been done, and that the US military justice system has colluded in keeping vital evidence from the public to ensure that US troops could get away with murder.

    As a side note, I believe that that means Manning is not guilty of even the technical charges in that (legally) soldiers are sometimes compelled to disobey orders on moral grounds; and clearly this is one such case. I also believe that those charging him are attempting to pervert the course of justice.

    And for James Barlow, what the video adds to the previously released transcript is that we can see for ourselves from the video that the victims were not armed (except for one person), that they were not taking any hostile action; and that at least one deliberate war crime was commited (shooting people for attempting to render aid to the wounded).

    The soldiers may have been genuine in their belief that at least six people had AK47s amongst those they massacred, but at best that shows they were negligent in their duties; and that the deaths were negligent homicides (manslaughter). The deaths of the people attempting to help the wounded were murder pure and simple.

    That the gun crew in the appache were not charged, and the whistleblower was shows there is no justice in the US military.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • sailpro:

    07 Jul 2010 9:48:58am

    As an ex-military man for over 10 years in the US Military, if I learn one thing was, that information like that never comes to the hand of young an very low ranking member of the army.

    this is spell traditional US Military cover up!!! a simple trick to call people down and hand over blame to some one!!!

    and thats all I'm commenting about the subject.

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  • Vampire:

    07 Jul 2010 9:50:15am

    I wonder how many of you people have served in the military?
    If you do/had you would know that military personell are not permited to disclose anything to the gemeral public. Manning will be charged and rightly so.

    If the media want to imbed themselves with the angries then they must suffer the consequences.

    If tracking devices are so available what will stop the angries from wearing them also?

    What Idontwannankow said is spot on "what happens on the battlefield stays on the battlefield"

    War is war people and when you civies have a go at it you might be able to comment.

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    • GD:

      07 Jul 2010 10:23:02am

      No. Being a soldier does not give a person a licence to commit murder. Even us lowly civilians can understand that. The video Manning leaked exposed murders committed by US armed forces. The soldiers in question should be tried.

      Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • JS:

    07 Jul 2010 10:03:23am

    I think the original news story above should perhaps have mentioned that, as well as civilians being killed, there were children in the vehicle who were also seriously injured (at least one was, according to the video). I think this would have also had a significant bearing on Manning's decision to release it to the public, and the reaction.

    If nothing else the video in question (which is something every advocate of war should not only watch but be MADE to watch, in my opinion) highlights how soldiers and civilians are pawns in the power games of their respective politicians/leaders, with tragic consequences.

    Education, diplomacy, compassion, understanding, aid, restraint...citizens must demand more of these types of approaches to conflict instead of "shoot/bomb first, ask questions later".

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Simon:

    07 Jul 2010 10:12:05am

    The good ole USA can't have their own exposing them for the world's biggest war criminals they are, can they now?! What a disgrace we continually support this evil country.

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  • Peach:

    07 Jul 2010 10:19:40am

    The video I saw showed a group of men and at least one of them had a rifle (no cars or children). The US soldiers discussed the situation, checked none of the people were known US people and decided to "strike". The reporter and his driver were with armed people, not known to the US, which obviously is highly risky.
    Whenever civilians are killed in a war zone I just think this is part of war. Sure we try not to kill cilvilians but it happens.
    All the more reason to consider sanctions and other diplomatic means before invading. Very sad situation.

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  • Az:

    07 Jul 2010 10:24:50am

    Wikileaks is the future of journalism.

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Mike:

    07 Jul 2010 10:25:26am

    At least the US Army are confirming that the war crimes are genuine - no point attacking the authenticity of Wikileaks this time around!

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

  • Kika:

    07 Jul 2010 10:31:33am

    Absolute rubbish. That guy is a hero. He did what he should have, and let the world know. Otherwise their deaths would just be put down to 'collateral' as per usual....

    Agree (0) Alert moderator

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