McClatchy has the full version of the video released Monday by WikiLeaks. The full video is nearly 40 minutes long, and as the McClatchy blogger notes, is "disturbing, both for the glee the American pilots seem to take in the bloodshed and for what seems to be an unnecesssary targeting of people who seem to pose no threat."
U.S. Central Command has said that the official copy of the video may not be retrievable and they don't know where it is, despite communication Reuters received from the Pentagon in 2007, saying that the footage was "under the congizance of the U.S. Central Command." It seems hard to believe that the video of this event--which was investigated at the brigade level and is at the center of such a controversial incident involving a media concern like Reuters--has just gone missing.
As of yet, however, whether or not Centcom finds its copy of the video and comments on the issue seems moot. Because it has "no current plans" to reopen an investigation, despite the questions it raises even for Centcom attorneys.
Some international law and human rights experts who have watched the video of the incident say the Apache helicopter crew in the footage may have acted illegally.
Lawyers at Central Command have been reviewing the classified video, made public on Monday by a group that promotes leaking to fight government and corporate corruption, two U.S. military officials said on condition of anonymity.
"We're looking at a reinvestigation because of a question of the rules of engagement. Were all the actions that are depicted on that video in parallel with the rules of engagement in effect at the time?" one of the officials said.
But Rear Admiral Hal Pittman, director of communications at Central Command, which oversees the war in Iraq, said in a statement to Reuters: "Central Command has no current plans to reinvestigate or review this combat action."
Other officials said Central Command was seeking to play down its role in determining whether to reopen the case because the unit involved was no longer based in Iraq, shifting the onus to Army and Pentagon leaders to make the decision.
Ah, the military bureaucracy way--pass the buck up the chain of command. Meanwhile, Reuter's editor-in-chief David Schlesinger has said that he "would welcome a thorough new investigation. Reuters from the start has called for transparency and an objective inquiry so that all can learn lessons from this tragedy." According to Gawker, Schlesinger spiked a story by a Reuters reporter that contained claims from human rights and international law experts that the actions revealed in the video might have been war crimes, though a Reuter's spokesperson denies the claim.
Whether this story goes further will likely depend on how hard Reuters continues to push to have a new investigation. It seems pretty clear that the military hopes to ride this out without further investigation and without providing a substantive response.