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"You are now clear to engage the vehicles."
December 17, 2002 5:57 PM   Subscribe

"You are now clear to engage the vehicles." (Warning: 5.5 meg Windows Media video.) This video purports to be the gunsight view of an American AC-130 gunship targetting a compound, and its inhabitants and vehicles, in Afghanistan. Complete with battlefield audio. While I can't guarantee its provenance, it does appear to show what it says. Leaving that aside: How do you react to this footage? Does it change your view of the engagement in Afghanistan? Should more people see this footage? What has the lack of this sort of footage -- didn't we see much more of this sort of battlefield view during the Gulf War? -- meant to the war effort, and the war at home?
posted by lupus_yonderboy (126 comments total)

 
My reaction when I saw this the other day was that

- It was the coolest thing I've ever seen
- Seemed a bit of overkill to waste such heavy ammo on trying to kill one person running around
- Not saying it's fake, but one talented person with 3d software could have done it
- I've been desensitized to this type of overhead pov violence from years of Gauntlet and Command and Conquer.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:03 PM on December 17, 2002


Its probably more important to show this kind of thing to people considering fighting the US: "Please don't. You will just get hurt."

I'm struck by those interviews with the few surviving Pakistani Jihadis who went to fight the infidels the week before the Taliban collapsed. None of them could believe that the US forces just killed their comrades from the air. (duh!) They thought it would be all heroic. Instead it was just sad.
posted by ednopantz at 6:14 PM on December 17, 2002


All ethical issues aside, that was amazing to watch. It's like watching God (or Zeus) himself smite them with bolts of lightning.

One question: what was the repeated yelling about in the video? It sounded something like: "GET IT! GOT IT!"
posted by aznblader at 6:17 PM on December 17, 2002


...and also "DIRTY!" (I think it sounds like that). It's usually timed before or after explosions.

Any one know what they mean? Sounds like some kind of code.
posted by aznblader at 6:18 PM on December 17, 2002


The moral of the story seems to be:

If you're getting shot at, run for a mosque!
posted by yangwar at 6:22 PM on December 17, 2002


I heard it as "get ready!" "get ready!".

If this is a hoax, dear god it's a good one.
posted by 4easypayments at 6:23 PM on December 17, 2002


...and also "DIRTY!"

I thought it was something like "...two...THREE!"

Any bombardiers here care to explain?
posted by Erasmus at 6:24 PM on December 17, 2002


I've been desensitized to this type of overhead pov violence from years of Gauntlet and Command and Conquer.

yeah, after hearing stories about what it's like to be a bomber pilot, you get the true sense of it here (if this is real. it certainly does look legit). people are being slaughtered in horrific unimaginable ways yet all you see are targets of light patterns. surreal.
posted by poopy at 6:24 PM on December 17, 2002


Your tax dollars at work. Killing people (actual terrorists or not? how can you tell?) under a government which had little to do with the actual 9-11 attacks. The only reason Afghanistan was attacked is because it was the weakest government in the region. This would not have happened to Iran or Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden and crew made their home there part of the time, sure, but the same effect could have been had attacking some camels in Yemen or something. Many of the actual terrorists made their home in the USA, but you don't think we would've attacked a city in Florida. Our government is full of sadists, and this so-called war on terrorism is a bunch of baloney.
posted by letterneversent at 6:36 PM on December 17, 2002


quite surreal. do wonder if it is a fake... if it is, i think it's a rather good one. also gives you some insight into how demented some of our troops are ;)

"Head shot!"
posted by y0bhgu0d at 6:36 PM on December 17, 2002


wow. straight outta patriot games.
posted by donkeyschlong at 6:38 PM on December 17, 2002


Yeah, I'd imagine people were just as fascinated about the World Trade Center falling down. You can't look at footage like this or 9/11 and try to avoid ethics or morality. You're just fooling yourself. It's a slaughter. It's not entertainment. It's tragedy. It's murder. It's not 'cool', Stan Chin.
posted by skinsuit at 6:40 PM on December 17, 2002


the same effect could have been had attacking some camels in Yemen

So are you saying that the new Afghan government is just as likely to support terrorists as the old one so clearly did? I think that's very, very unlikely. Also, it seems very likely, given that only audio statements have recently appeared, that Osama bin Laden is dead. Saying that bringing down the Taleban achieved nothing is, as you say, baloney.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:42 PM on December 17, 2002


These guys were asked, politely, to hand over the gang of Jihadi lunatics who killed thousands of innocent people. They refused, and their shoeless soldiers were massacred by 21st century technology.

These clowns were big boys who could make their own decisions. Let's stop thinking that only white people are capable of making decisions and living (or dying) with the consequences.
posted by ednopantz at 6:48 PM on December 17, 2002


Where did you get this? Who is vampirebat.com?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:52 PM on December 17, 2002


What you hear is the AC130 crew coordinating with a Air Force Spec Ops controller on the ground.

The controller identified the building, mosque and trucks to the fire control officer in the plane who's aiming the weapons by watching a thermal video with crosshairs. The crew is loading and firing a 105mm cannon - you hear only part of their yelled commands as they load and fire, probably through the gunners microphone. Periodically you hear the pilot reporting his altitude and direction changes. At one point the crew fires flares as an antimissile defense. The gunner is shooting the equivalent of a tank round at individual soldiers who are running away. At one point, it looks like he blows a guy in two.

Killing from an aircraft like this, they're detached and "target" focused. On the ground - you can imagine what it's like.

This is a good post. It's important no matter where you fall on this issue to be reminded of the truth of war - it's horror and banality - while we debate our support or opposition.
posted by Zombie at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2002


What you hear is the AC130 crew coordinating with a Air Force Spec Ops controller on the ground.

The controller identified the building, mosque and trucks to the fire control officer in the plane who's aiming the weapons by watching a thermal video with crosshairs. The crew is loading and firing a 105mm cannon - you hear only part of their yelled commands as they load and fire, probably through the gunners microphone. Periodically you hear the pilot reporting his altitude and direction changes. At one point the crew fires flares as an antimissile defense. The gunner is shooting the equivalent of a tank round at individual soldiers who are running away. At one point, it looks like he blows a guy in two.

Killing from an aircraft like this, they're detached and "target" focused. On the ground - you can imagine what it's like.

This is a good post. It's important no matter where you fall on this issue to see the truth of war - it's horror and banality - while we debate our support or opposition.
posted by Zombie at 6:56 PM on December 17, 2002


Sorry about that - didn't mean to post twice.
posted by Zombie at 6:57 PM on December 17, 2002


"I saw him die earlier," spoken with clinical detachment. "He caught a 40 round...direct."

I don't see how anyone can think of this as "cool." Can you imagine what it must feel like to be inside the skull of that guy running down the road as this AC-130 wheels over him, lobbing 40mm rounds and god knows what else down on him and everything else in sight?

Unless that guy himself blew up the World Trade Center, I can't imagine how this is just or right.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:01 PM on December 17, 2002


I thought this would be cool, but instead the reality of watching real people die real deaths only made me sad. I mean, the last bit with the guy who made it down the embankment only to show a sign of life and seal his own fate.... my stomach turned. This is how the most enlightened nation in the world handles its problems? This was not cool.
posted by strike3 at 7:01 PM on December 17, 2002


what did you think war looked like? If you could focus a camera on any soldier in any war (just cause or not) and watched how they met their demise, I bet it would seem pretty horrid...
posted by stifford at 7:06 PM on December 17, 2002


Pretty-geriatric: So are you saying that the new Afghan government is just as likely to support terrorists as the old one so clearly did? I think that's very, very unlikely. Also, it seems very likely, given that only audio statements have recently appeared, that Osama bin Laden is dead. Saying that bringing down the Taleban achieved nothing is, as you say, baloney.

What new government? Our Afghan ex-oil-exec-turned-Aamerican-puppet Hamid Karzai only controls Kabul and barely that. The rest of the country exists in much the way it did before. And Karzai himself is just another color of thug, but maybe you think since he's our thug that's all that matters. Whether or not bin Laden is dead is unsettled. Our government says it thinks he is in order to a.) look like it managed to actually do something successfully b.) so that people who support him will lose hope and c.) so that bin Laden will be forced to appear in order to dispel rumors of his demise. Our government simply doesn't know. The only thing it does apparently know how to do is to shoot missiles at people from thousands of feet in the air.

Bringing down the Taleban did nothing except bring down the Taleban, a group we helped to create during the Carter administration with the aid of $500 million dollars in order to destablilize the USSR. This whole thing is a charade and a lie. I feel sorry for my fellow credulous Americans. Go back to sleep. Uncle Sam will protect you from all the baddies.
posted by letterneversent at 7:06 PM on December 17, 2002


Zombie's post seems to attest to the video's veracity.

The essential point was posed by the poster: Why, after having seen endless play-by-play shots of our "surgical strikes" during Gulf War I, have we not seen any comparable coverage of our year-long war in Afghanistan?

The answer to this question does not bode well for our democratic society.
posted by kozad at 7:07 PM on December 17, 2002


Kozad:

The less the 'public' knows the better. Thank god for the internet.
posted by letterneversent at 7:11 PM on December 17, 2002


I'm not sure footage like this could change people's minds. It's too clinical, and as Stan says, too cool. Hard to root for dots on the ground, easy to climb into the skin of what George Carlin once called "our nintendo pilots".

If you want to see the ramifications of this sort of thing, take a look at pictures like these. But either sort of image shouldn't get in the way of actual debate. Sometimes military action is justified, and sometimes it isn't, but it's always pretty grotesque up close, and exciting from afar. Pictures of clinical strikes can always be matched with pictures of actual devastation, and usually to no gain for either side.

Either way, I was glad to see the link. Thanks lupus!
posted by condour75 at 7:12 PM on December 17, 2002


>>This is how the most enlightened nation in the world handles its problems? This was not cool.<<

Collapsing a building on top of three thousand innocent people wasn't terribly cool, either.

The lesson is: if you commit an act of mass murder against citizens of a superpower, bad things will happen to you.

More generally: If you start a war, people will die. Make sure you know what you're doing.

Katherine
posted by kewms at 7:15 PM on December 17, 2002


why do people seem to think that by exposing the horrors of war to people will make war less likely? People seem to LIKE wars, if the history of the past 5,000 years or so is any guide.

I don't buy the argument that people, if they say the "horror" of war, would stop and mend their ways. People have seen the horror of war over and over and over again, and they like it.
posted by stupidcomputernickname at 7:17 PM on December 17, 2002


If someone could explain how video like this (if it is in fact real) gets from an AC-130 flying over Afghanistan to the public internet, I'd be much obliged. I'm not making a jab at, well, anything actually, I just can't figure out the chain of events.
posted by mmcg at 7:18 PM on December 17, 2002


Not a bombardier myself - but one of my relatives was. During the Gulf War he remarked that he was disgusted by the television coverage, because these things were much, much worse in person, and we simply had no idea. Since there aren't a lot of American bombardiers left who saw missions over Germany in December 1944, I'll take his word for it.
posted by sheauga at 7:18 PM on December 17, 2002


kewms: The lesson is: if you commit an act of mass murder against citizens of a superpower, bad things will happen to you.

It must be nice having such a simple, black and white idea of the world. Too bad that its highly unlikely that any of those people murdered from above had anything to do with the WTC attacks. But whatever you need to tell yourself to be able to sleep at night. Just keep those blinders fixed firmly in place. It might get ugly from here on out.
posted by letterneversent at 7:20 PM on December 17, 2002


My definition of cool to this situation is bad guys getting killed appeals to my sadistic sense of justice. I would assume, that appropriate intelligence was gathered and that most of the people targeted were bad guys and there were maybe a few civilians in the wrong place at the wrong time. This casual enjoyment and my fascination of military technology is also why I participate in few MeFi political threads, I'd just be unintentionally trolling. As condour75 touched on, the precise nature and detachment of humanity in this video makes me think it's neat. If I was standing right there and saw a poor man's body explode from getting hit by a 105mm shell from above, then I would hope I would think differently. Same as the difference in emotion I felt as I saw two buildings collapse with thousands of people on TV, than the emotion felt by those in NY and ground zero.

From what googling I've done of the AC130 Gunship, that is one impressive machine. I'm not going to touch on whether the US should have been erradicating Afganistan in the first place, but if you had to do it I'd say use your resources and not put any of your own soldiers at risk just for the sake of courageous effort. It certainly isn't a fair fight, but I don't think anything as ridiculous as war is.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2002


I would assume, that appropriate intelligence was gathered and that most of the people targeted were bad guys

I think this is a risky assumption. I've seen post-9/11 documentaries that indicate that many of the targets are primarily civilian, under the guise of being somehow potentially "strategic." And, as anyone who is familiar with the Iraq embargo knows, it's pretty hard to definitively classify anything all all-civilian or all-military. These people are responsible for the actions of the Taliban the way I'm responsible for the Unabomber and Tim McVeigh. This does nothing to stop terrorism.
posted by jessamyn at 7:31 PM on December 17, 2002


And basically what else I'm saying is that I'm certainly am not the only one who would think of this as cool. All this video does is to desensitize the viewer from comprehending the grotesque horror of the events unfolding, as if it was some kind of entertainment. Tragedy porn and cynical PR for the military if this was leaked on purpose.

Good point jessamyn by the way, it was a risky assumption.
posted by Stan Chin at 7:34 PM on December 17, 2002


The lesson is: if you commit an act of mass murder against citizens of a superpower, bad things will happen to you.

Whereas if you're a superpower... well, you fill in the moral blank.
posted by riviera at 7:36 PM on December 17, 2002


"More generally: If you start a war, people will die. Make sure you know what you're doing.

Katherine
posted by kewms at 7:15 PM PST on December 17"

Kewms - I was confused by your post. Who is/are the "you" you refer to in this post? And are the "people" you refer to here in the "you" group or are they distinct?
posted by troutfishing at 7:41 PM on December 17, 2002


My tax dollars at work -- and MY AIR FORCE at work. AIRPOWER! I'm proud of my fellow Air Force troops...and this video (likely real, IMO) demonstrates what the principles of democracy, capitalism, republicanism (small r), and harnessing of new technologies bring: the ability to project your will & might across the globe - FOR GOOD. Make no mistake, the US is the most moral and free nation ever conceived and built -- the fact that we lead the world in every signifcant way is not an accident of either geography, luck, or fate -- it is the direct result of the principles & ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, and our continued adherence to same.

Those who attack us, and those who support those who attack us, will be hunted down and destroyed. It really is that simple - and just.
posted by davidmsc at 7:49 PM on December 17, 2002


In other words, might makes right, davidmsc? I'm sorry. I served too, and proudly, but that argument holds no water with me.
posted by adamgreenfield at 7:54 PM on December 17, 2002


Certainly it is everyone's best interest that when targets are eliminated, as this video demonstrates, they are, indeed, legitimate targets. According to a USA Today story today (12/17), "al-Qaeda training camps .... have been recently reactivated in eastern Afghanistan." If this story is the case, then, on its face, it demonstrates the U.S. led coalition is not effectively and efficiently eliminating al-Qaeda. Moreover, the story provides, "suicide squads were being trained in Pakistan by al-Qaeda operatives to hit targets in Afghanistan." Perhaps the military should shift its focus from preparations for an Iraqi conflict, and increase military resources on [t]hose who attack us.
posted by quam at 7:55 PM on December 17, 2002


I bet half of you people whining about this also watched Band of Brothers and thought it was okay since they were killing Nazis.

Few people seem to have problems with the way we massacred Nazis throughout WW2, simply because the Nazis themselves massacred the Jews. But, many Germans were forced into becoming Nazis, and were in as hopeless a position as the Jews they had to kill.

These so called 'Taliban' are the same, they might not even believe in what the Taliban preach, but they were forced to go along with it all the same.

This is morally no more good or bad than what we did in World War 2, except that the Germans were in a better position to fight back.

davidmsc said: it is the direct result of the principles & ideals laid out in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution, and our continued adherence to same.

In that case, get ready for a US downfall in the next 50 years. Libertarianism might have propelled the US for a cpl hundred years, but the Constitution is currently being shredded at a White House near you. The US is quickly becoming Authoritarian.
posted by wackybrit at 7:59 PM on December 17, 2002


jeez... i was just as astounded by this clip as everyone else but then it turns into another argument of 'us vs. them'. it was a great link and i'm glad that i saw it but war is a fact of life. i saw it as sad and unnerving but not something to drudge up yet another political debate on who is good and evil. would the comments be directed elsewhere if we were looking at videotaped footage of beheadings under the taliban?
posted by poopy at 8:00 PM on December 17, 2002


[dramatization] Libertarianism might have propelled the US for a cpl hundred years, but the Constitution is currently being shredded at a White House near you. The US is quickly becoming Authoritarian. [/dramatization]
posted by poopy at 8:04 PM on December 17, 2002


First, The Taliban would never have been attacked if they would have turned over members of a terrorist organization who had, have and will use civilian-specific attacks.

Second, everyone from Turkey to Britain to Japan supported the Afghan strike. It wasn't some sort of American cowboyism.

Third, war is terrible. Death and destruction is terrible. That's why the U.S. uses these types of "surgical strikes"; a million died when Iraq and Iran fought, I think something like a few thousand civilians died in Afghanistan. Despite what lettersneversent implies, Karzai and the international coalition have enough control outside of Kabul that Central Asia-based terrorists have yet to launch a major attack. If the region outside of Kabul is lawless, then so is Sumatra, Indonesia, Mombasa, Kenya, Yemen and Kuwait.

This video is not supposed to be cool. It contains no moralism. It simply shows how war is fought now, and why wars are so much shorter than they had been historically. If war need be fought, and often it must, though the less often the better, then short and quick is the best way to do it.

You can be assured that very few militaries in the world would make sure they avoid hitting a mosque when the enemy is inside. The US, luckily, has the tools to be patient in who they kill and where. Could intelligence be better? Of course, and it improves every day. Is zero the best number of civilians to kill? Of course.

Lest anyone forget, the people being targeted are not random brown people - they are military men trained to kill, specifically to kill us.

(As an aside, what ridiculousness to say that the Taliban were funded to "destabilize the Soviets." The USSR *invaded Afghanistan*. The USSR *had the outright stated plan of making Asia socialist, and a part of the USSR, by military means*. After Vietnam, no one would have supported US troops to liberate Afghanistan - that's why the Afghanis were armed, and they defeated the Soviets quite well, I'd say)
posted by Kevs at 8:04 PM on December 17, 2002


davidmsc: I'm a little confused as to how this video demonstrates the ideals you purport: democracy, capitalism, and republicanism. Capitalism certainly, but democracy and republicanism? And, you'll need to qualify how the US is the most moral and free nation ever conceived. Any principles we started out with in 1776 have been sold out and our present government is nothing but a diseased body hiding itself behind virtue and principle. The only thing keeping this country from utter hell is the few people who don't accept things on their face value, who don't believe what they're told, who promote human values and an ethical system despite the Machiavellian realpolitik of our morally bankrupt government.
posted by letterneversent at 8:05 PM on December 17, 2002


Post 9/11:
Option 1: Kill the guys who made it happen
Option 2: Sit on our hands and hope it doesn't happen

I think I'm gonna go for option 1 here. Only problem is, Bush is going for...

Option 0.5: Kill some of the guys who attacked us, then use the goodwill of the American people to finish off Dad's work.

Ick.

you'll need to qualify how the US is the most moral and free nation ever conceived
You and I are writing this, no? Unless of course you're using MiddleEastOnline.

Any principles we started out with in 1776 have been sold out
I'm sure glad we got rid of that slavery dealy-o.
posted by owillis at 8:09 PM on December 17, 2002


quam, I would rely on USAToday for accurate, unbiased reportage sometime on the day after pigs spontaneously sprout wings.
posted by adamgreenfield at 8:09 PM on December 17, 2002


adamgreenfield: An exercise of google's news magic. If you do not prefer USAToday, the story [new al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan] is also provided by (AP and Reuters): ABCNews, Forbes, ABS CBN, San Diego Union Tribune, FOX News, CBS, and many other news outlets. You're right, we do not know if this or, for that matter, any news reports are accurate.
posted by quam at 8:20 PM on December 17, 2002


davidmsc, Clearly, the military has done its job in convincing you of the rightness of our current government and its actions.

How sad that you believe that "the principles of democracy...and harnessing of new technologies bring us the ability to project our will and might across the globe - FOR GOOD". Tell that to the Kurds we deserted at the end of the last 'mini-war' in the 90's.
posted by lometogo at 8:28 PM on December 17, 2002


For those wondering about the authenticity of the video, and wanting a smidge of context, I found this reference in a (very long) Washington Post article:
Last November, for example, commanders at the air operations center in Saudi Arabia got intelligence about an impending meeting of Taliban and al Qaeda leaders. They dispatched a Predator to the general vicinity of where the meeting was supposed to take place. Soon, a radar aircraft detected a convoy moving on the ground. Its data was fed to the Predator, which began surveilling the convoy with its video sensor. Commanders hundreds of miles away viewed footage of the convoy rolling toward a small mosque. They called in an AC-130 to attack. As it approached, video from the Predator was fed directly to the gunship so that its crew could locate their targets even before they flew over. When the plane arrived over the meeting place near the mosque, it opened fire immediately, shooting individuals as they tried to flee to waiting vehicles. The mosque, designated as a "no strike" target, remained untouched.
Not 100% verified yet, but things seem to be on the up and up.
I don't think not hitting the mosque can be viewed as evidence of moral superiority, so much as political spin control, given that a lot of hay gets made whenever a mosque gets blown up. The article also says that precision munitions were originally developed to allow the air force to be more efficient/effective in taking out its targets, rather than to minimize civilian casualties. Technology is neutral by nature, and only its applications can be considered moral or immoral. What this film shows on the other hand, I don't really know.
posted by cardboard at 8:30 PM on December 17, 2002


but war is a fact of life.

NAHHH-KOY-KAHT-SEE! NAQOYQATSI!

Second, everyone from Turkey to Britain to Japan supported the Afghan strike.

Everyone?
posted by wackybrit at 8:36 PM on December 17, 2002


I don't think not hitting the mosque can be viewed as evidence of moral superiority, so much as political spin control, given that a lot of hay gets made whenever a mosque gets blown up.

I was wondering if anyone was going to notice that.
posted by rushmc at 8:51 PM on December 17, 2002


thanks wackybrit. considering that you (of course) are right, maybe you should run for president. i'm sure the world would be a much better place. ya know...peace, love and all that.
posted by poopy at 8:52 PM on December 17, 2002


I was wondering if anyone was going to notice that.

*blushes* we must've had our blinders on again.
posted by poopy at 8:57 PM on December 17, 2002


Sorry, Mr. Patriot Act/DMCA loving American. Authoritarianism is the new 'freedom'!

You're right that I'm being dramatic. Freedom has been quashed in your country for much longer than the last few years, with slavery, prohibition and all.

You're only truly free if your idea of freedom fits in with that of your government.
posted by wackybrit at 8:58 PM on December 17, 2002


Uh, except if that were the case all you pacifistic terrorist sympathizers would be getting tortured in prison camps for posting to this website. Nice try, chicken little.
posted by techgnollogic at 9:15 PM on December 17, 2002


>>Too bad that its highly unlikely that any of those people murdered from above had anything to do with the WTC attacks. <<

Just as it's highly unlikely that any of those killed in the WTC attacks had anything to do with the US foreign policy decisions that supposedly "caused" those attacks.

We could play moral equivalency games for the rest of our lives without getting anywhere. My point is that if you are an armed combatant with a faction that has committed an act of war, you are a legitimate military target. If the military power that you've attacked happens to have overwhelming technical superiority that allows them to kill you without putting themselves in danger, that's just your bad luck.
posted by kewms at 9:18 PM on December 17, 2002


Libertarianism might have propelled the US for a cpl hundred years...

Freedom has been quashed in your country for much longer than the last few years...


So can we safely say that freedom was quashed sometime between ~1976 and ~2000?
posted by shoos at 9:23 PM on December 17, 2002


Troutfishing wrote:
"More generally: If you start a war, people will die. Make sure you know what you're doing.

Kewms - I was confused by your post. Who is/are the "you" you refer to in this post? And are the "people" you refer to here in the "you" group or are they distinct?


The "you" is anyone who starts a war. That includes people who commit unprovoked attacks on civilian targets, but also people who decide to invade another country for the purpose of removing its leadership.

The people who die include anyone who happens to be in the wrong place when the shooting starts. Bullets can't read insignia very well. But in particular, the side starting the war can reasonably expect some of its own soldiers to get killed.
posted by kewms at 9:26 PM on December 17, 2002


Great troll, davidmsc. It only needed a few spelling errors and a reference to the 2nd amendment to be perfect.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:27 PM on December 17, 2002


Yes, davidmsc, please no more personal opinions that deviate from the pacifist MeFi status quo. I mean, that would just be "trolling".
posted by dhoyt at 9:42 PM on December 17, 2002


"Moral equivalence" is a really silly buzzword.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:49 PM on December 17, 2002


Sigh. One needn't be a pacifist to find the unsupported statement, "the US is the most moral and free nation ever conceived and built" absurdly hyperbolic. Please, don't mind me though. Carry On Sloganeering.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 9:51 PM on December 17, 2002


Uh huh. And posts like this certainly contain no hyperbole or melodrama.
posted by dhoyt at 9:57 PM on December 17, 2002


Armitage Shanks...I haven't seen you call out statements that declare the Bush administration an dictatorial regime. Let me know when your ability to call out hyperbole extends to both sides of the political spectrum.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:03 PM on December 17, 2002


Another moral of the story is: When the United States asks for your cooperation in handing over terrorists, we're not joking.

This is all terribly difficult for me to accept on so many levels. Part of me, the pragmatic side, believes that we have sent a very strong and clear message (best quoted here before): "The lesson is: if you commit an act of mass murder against citizens of a superpower, bad things will happen to you." However, the moral side says, "It's unfair for us to make a point with a secondary (or perhaps tertiary...etc) country not necessarily directly involved.

I can justify the action in many ways and I can challenge it in an equal number of others. At the end of the day, however, I want to see the sons of bitches brought in like renegades and I want to see the federal government and citizenry realize that we need to take a more proactive and engaged relationship with the rest of the planet.
posted by tgrundke at 10:07 PM on December 17, 2002


Even hyperbole is relative. If anyone posts "the Bush administration is the most immoral and dictatorial regime ever conceived and built" (compared, of course, to all other regimes in all nations in the history of the world), consider them called out in advance.

(And fwiw, I don't have any particular issue with the use of AC-130 gunships.)
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:11 PM on December 17, 2002


If these guys we see blowing up are directly or indirectly linked to bin Laden then great. If they aren't, this is a crime.

By the way, where is the oversight? Where is the mainstream press.
posted by mygoditsbob at 10:26 PM on December 17, 2002


But, many Germans were forced into becoming Nazis

More accurately, many Germans were forced into the German army by the ruling Nazi Party.
posted by McBain at 10:30 PM on December 17, 2002


I'm struck by those interviews with the few surviving Pakistani Jihadis who went to fight the infidels the week before the Taliban collapsed. None of them could believe that the US forces just killed their comrades from the air. (duh!) They thought it would be all heroic. Instead it was just sad.

SDB has an excellent piece on his website on the difference between warriors and soldiers. Afghanistan was a nation of warriors (actually, it probably still is but with a little training from US Special Forces that might change). For them, going down in a blaze of gunfire is honorable. As a former US Army soldier, I can say that that is just plain stupid. The US military attempts to neutralize an enemy using the fewest number of forces necessary and taking few if any casualties. Warriors don't grasp that fact.
posted by billman at 10:36 PM on December 17, 2002


How high a video resolution would that have to be to qualify as a "snuff" film? Would it have to be in color to qualify? How about if we saw at least one identifiable human face at some point? Does it depend on whether the actions ordered to take place here were ordered by someone with an ulterior profit motive?
posted by hincandenza at 10:46 PM on December 17, 2002


If these guys we see blowing up are directly or indirectly linked to bin Laden then great. If they aren't, this is a crime.

How do you define 'indirectly linked'?

I'll assume you're an American. An American company caused hundreds of thousands of Indians to suffer (and many to die) from their inaction over the Bhopal chemical disaster. It would be a crime for the Indian army to kill you for this.

No one should have to accept the responsibilities of others. An innocent Afghani is just that. Innocent. Those people in the WTC were innocent too, but by killing the Taliban, two wrongs do not make a right (numerous states agree, with the end of the death penalty).. and by killing innocent civilians just to reach the Taliban.. well, that's a 'crime.'
posted by wackybrit at 10:48 PM on December 17, 2002


Zombie added some excellent context (as did cardboard). Another aspect of the communications which should be commented on is the targeting authority. There is at least one point on the audio when you can hear "You are cleared to engage" and then quickly says "Do not engage, do not engage, monitor." This communication layer goes from the AC-130 to a command authority, who may have been in an AWACS overhead, or possibly all the way back in Doha, Qatar. The likely explanation for this delay is that the targeting officer in Doha is conferring with a Judge Advocate General, who has familiarity and access to the Laws of War and the Geneva Conventions, as well as US policy documents and the specific Rules of Engagement promulgated for this mission. I don't know what the question was, but it may have been something like "Can we engage vehicles departing this location?"

The November Atlantic had a sharp feature by Mark Bowden, The Kabul-Ki Dance, detailing how the targeting and shooting works for fighter-bomber F-15s.

Certainly we are far from completely eradicating al Qaeda, but if they can operate in Florida surely they are still operating in parts of Afghanistan. The purpose of the war was to deny al Qaeda unmolested sanctuary inside that country, and that goal has been achieved. I can't believe we are still arguing this a year later, but the visceral impact of video must have something to do with getting emotions electrified. The authorization of force by Congress clearly included not just "the terrorists" but also the governments which gave them aid and comfort; by failing to disavow the actions of al Qaeda the Taliban effectively took responsibility for them, and as such made themselves legitimate objects of a war.

It may seem excessive firepower applied to pick-up truck "technicals", but the AC-130 is, for all its capability, an anti-personnel gunship intended to provide air support to special forces and close-in aerial operations. There really isn't anything smaller that could have done this job. (Helicopters have neither the range nor self-protection capability.) We can't know the hearts of the Taliban men who lost their lives in this operation, but we can know that they were selected as legitimate military targets during a legal war using weapons that avoided, as much as possible, unnecessary collateral damage. This is, indeed, the hell of war, since it's unlikely that any individual soldier on either side is truly bloodthirsty.

Sure, it would have looked better if they were firing back, but fairness is not a requirement of the laws of war; the enemy has a capability, you are fully justified in interdicting that capability. You don't have to wait until he shoots at you. Our soldiers on the ground, in the gunship, and in the targeting authority acted professionally and coolly. The war ended quickly, with few civilian casualties, and put an end to ten years of bloody civil war. The UN has been overwhelmed with twice the number of returning refugees that it expected. At some level, this single operation contributed to that greater good.
posted by dhartung at 10:54 PM on December 17, 2002


Assuming the footage records real events it is horrific and sad. If only a truly cool alternative solution could have been found for the problems that necessitated these actions. Any suggestions?
posted by atom71 at 11:16 PM on December 17, 2002


That was disgusting. Humans represented as pixels. Americans on the radio represented as "all in a days work". Neato technology represented as"only could be possibly ever pointed at 'evil-doers' anyway".

The recklessness in which this era deems death called upon some from high as acceptable, if not warmingly entertaining, is a travesty of humanity to go down for all time.

A pixel tells a thousand words I suppose.

What a about those hi-res games (Grand Theft Auto) where nobody thinks about the consequences of murdering others? Makes life as a trigger-fingered grunt look like a bore.

Fuck this makes me angry. . .
posted by crasspastor at 11:40 PM on December 17, 2002


Good god. I mean, gawd. At least it was quick for them, right? It is a shame crasspastor, but these are exciting times, and death is probably just death, who really knows? As the human brutality prevails yet again in the attempt to be modest and affective, Americans still have yet to know the fear and anger and hatred and pain that others have been experiencing for some amount of time. Perhaps things will change, as one does strange things in times of war. Maybe we should be more understanding? - who knows. For death surely comes to all, which is something that I truly embrace.
(hmm, I hope that didn't sound morbid...)
posted by Kodel at 12:06 AM on December 18, 2002


crasspasotr, I suggest having a look at the video of Daniel Pearl being beheaded. Let's just say it could have been quicker and the last gurgling yelp he made makes my skin crawl. I wish I never saw that video. It was a horrible way to die. So if the type of people who beheaded Mr. Pearl or smacked planes into the WTC died in this video, fine by me.
posted by Ron at 12:16 AM on December 18, 2002


I'm all for the full-on "hi-res" simulations like Grand Theft Auto. (actually, I think GTA runs in a low-res mode by PS2 standards, but I digress). Anything that lets human beings get their more primal jollies without actually inflicting real pain and suffering should be embraced, not blamed. If I beat the living hell out of a pixel with a polygonal baseball bat instead of blowing off steam by yelling at my girlfriend, the world is a better place. That's the difference the older generation misses -- that these games serve as surrogates for real violence, not incitement. Of course, it would be perfect if I didn't need to blow off steam at all -- but that's just part of human nature. Nobody's got a cure for that yet.

Why doesn't somebody program a GTA:WTC edition (perhaps Alan Jackson could even provide the soundtrack) and deliver a bunch of PS2's to Al-Qaeda, and let them get their rocks off killing pixellized Americans?

It'd save a lot of money on AC-130 ammo...
posted by strike3 at 12:28 AM on December 18, 2002


That was disgusting. Humans represented as pixels.

Representing humans as pixels is disgusting? Why? Because they're sort-of graven images?

Americans on the radio represented as "all in a days work".

You'd have preferred it if they'd been screaming in terror the whole time, or otherwise acting really upset? Because we all know that the people on the ground would be 38% less dead if only the AC-130 crew were more visibly-upset about it.

Neato technology represented as"only could be possibly ever pointed at 'evil-doers' anyway".

Don't see where you got that. There's no physical law that prevents the air force from sending the Spectres to turn my town into dog food. I don't think it's likely, but hey.

The recklessness in which this era deems death called upon some from high as acceptable, if not warmingly entertaining, is a travesty of humanity to go down for all time.

Recklessness of this era? Where the hell are you getting that?

Would you prefer the recklessness of the last era and have us firebomb their cities, such as they are, or drop the odd nuke on them? Frank Capra could tell us all about what nasties they were.

Or would you prefer the recklessness of the era before that, and have us sing songs about the glory of war on the way to start a trench-warfare party with added chlorine fun?

Would the deaths be more acceptable to you somehow if they'd been strangled? Would anyone be less dead? If not, of what relevance is the altitude of their killer?

Duh, war kills human beings and destroys the fruits of human labor, and that's bad, m'kay? The clip is still an interesting glimpse into a world that most of us don't live in, into the absolute lethality of a modern battlefield, and into what a weird war this one is.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:28 AM on December 18, 2002


More Video
posted by Niahmas at 12:58 AM on December 18, 2002


Duh, war kills human beings and destroys the fruits of human labor, and that's bad, m'kay?

Silicon bravado. Vapor phase.
Carbonated water, anyone? It's fizzy. Enjoy the movie.
posted by Opus Dark at 1:06 AM on December 18, 2002


Niahmas - when a video opens with "UNANSWERED QUESTION VIII" and the voiceover says "Unanswered question number seven" I find it hard to take it as a reliable source.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 4:20 AM on December 18, 2002


Wouldn't make a good soldier:

adamgreenfield
skinsuit
letterneversent
strike3
mygoditsbob
atom71
crasspastor
posted by Witty at 4:32 AM on December 18, 2002


If I beat the living hell out of a pixel with a polygonal baseball bat instead of blowing off steam by yelling at my girlfriend, the world is a better place.

That is an excellent quote.

Wouldn't make a good soldier:

I don't see the point of your post, other than if you want to imply that not being a good soldier is a bad thing.

I don't know if I'd make a good soldier. I am a pacifist, but that is an ideal. If I had to fight, I might be a good soldier since I have the power to be totally indifferent and emotionless in times of duress. I don't think you can make sweeping judgements based on the comments people make on MeFi though :-)
posted by wackybrit at 4:38 AM on December 18, 2002


These lyrics from "The Bravery of Being Out of Range" by Roger Waters are sadly apropos:

"Hey bartender over here
Two more shots
And two more beers
Sir turn up the TV sound
The war has started on the ground
Just love those laser guided bombs
They're really great
For righting wrongs
You hit the target
And win the game
From bars 3,000 miles away"

How is this footage "cool"?
posted by lazywhinerkid at 4:51 AM on December 18, 2002


"More generally: If you start a war, people will die. Make sure you know what you're doing. " - Kewms

And we're getting ready to invade Iraq. Go figure.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:59 AM on December 18, 2002


Reading this thread I've suddenly realised that two wrongs do indeed make a right... [/sarcasm]
posted by twine42 at 5:36 AM on December 18, 2002


Not to derail, but 'snuff' films tends to refer to "the killing of a human being -- a human sacrifice (without the aid of special effects or other trickery) perpetuated for the medium of film and circulated amongst a jaded few for the purpose of entertainment." - so I don't think the vid could be considered snuff, neither could the Pearl execution tape as it was not produced for entertainment, but for verification of his death (though I would concede that this is arguable). There is a video that you can get via filesharing networks showing a russian/chechen having his throat slit by a russian/chechen soldier and it appears to be made for only entertainment purposes. It is HORRIBLY graphic and if I could un-see it, I would, and I have an extremely thick stomach, so you have been warned. That to me, is the the reminder of the toll of war.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 5:40 AM on December 18, 2002


I find it interesting the lack of middle ground presented here. Terrorism breeds in ignorance and inequality (percieved and real). The U.S. and all other modern nations should be reaching out to nations at risk, something that was said would happen and has been woefully inadequate thus far.

Altrusitic motives aside, there will always be those people that cannot be reasoned with and will pursure agendas of terrorism and would just as soon harm thousands of civilians as much as a single soldier. There is no way to deal with people like this other than containing them (capturing and imprisoning) or killing them. It is the reality that we live in now.

Also to Davidmsc and other who feel similarly, the terrorists displayed their own form of AIRPOWER on 9/11, did they not? Technology will not win the war alone. Remember there were men on the ground targeting in the video- that is how wars are won, someone has to be up close and personal.

And to those disgusted by the shelling in the video, if that would have been 25 years ago, that entire area would have been flattened, saturated with bombs and everyone would have been dead. It's not pretty and it's not nice, but not so long ago, we could not have essentially chased a target as they ran.
posted by CoolHandPuke at 6:04 AM on December 18, 2002


Why is this video cool?

It's an insight into modern air combat operations civilians don't normally get, especially unedited.

It's a reminder that war is terrible and costly in human terms.

It shows that our military acts professionally and strictly according to the established rules, even when there's no real reason to do so.

That's why it's cool.

And while we in our incomplete knowledge can debate endlessly on whether the people we see in the video were combatants or not, we need to remember that the AC-130 was fired upon during the operation. You don't drop flares just for fun.

In my own opinion, I know enough about how Air Operations Centers work that I can be reasonably certain that the people were combatants.

Do I like war? No. Do I think that war is sometimes necessary? Yes. Does the necessity of any conflict minimize for me its human and moral cost? No. Will those that disagree continue to paint over these nuances in black and white with a very broad brush? Maybe.
posted by Cerebus at 6:25 AM on December 18, 2002


the fact that we [America] lead the world in every signifcant way is not an accident of either geography, ...
Heh.

A sober analysist would realize that one of the largest, if not the largest, contributing reasons that the US is powerful is because we have the best geography in the world.
posted by moonbiter at 6:50 AM on December 18, 2002


A few questions in trying to figure out the veracity of this video:

1.) Were the explosions artillery shells from the ac-130? I wonder how long it takes from the time the shell is fired to when it hits the ground. Sometimes in the video, the camera would pan to someone running, and a couple seconds later an explosion would occur right behind them. If the camera was mounted on the gun, this might not make sense as far as timing goes, but someone above mentioned this could be video from a predator or another camera on the ac-130.

2.) The explosions didn't seem to leave marks on the ground. This looks like infra-red video footage. You would think the explosions would have left visible temperature changes in the ground they were hitting.

3.) The info markers on the crosshair are different then things I remember seeing on other war video. Im no expert in that though.

4.) Info on the source of this video and why its on the internet would help. It seems to be very high quality when compared to other war video I've seen before. The voices are quite audible too.

Not saying this isn't real, but explanations of the above would help.
posted by jsonic at 7:02 AM on December 18, 2002


The footage is certainly remarkable. What is more remarkable is why there are so few examples of it. This Article from the Digital Journalist, What Bodies?, explains why this is so.

It is extremely important to the administration that you are kept docile (and davidmc's higher brain functions apparently completely inhibited) by maintaining the illusion that it is possible to maintain an around the clock carpet bombing campaign at yet achieve a bloodless war.

To that end your media is ruthlessly controlled. From the (harrowing) link:
More than 150 reporters who participated in the Pentagon pool system failed to produce a single eyewitness account of the clash between 300,000 allied troops and an estimated 300,000 Iraqi troops. There was not one photograph, not a strip of film by pool members of a dead body – American or Iraqi.
and
“I did not look on the press as an asset,” Cheney said in an interview after Desert Storm ... “Frankly, I looked on it as a problem to be managed”
Oh. Davidmc. re. Make no mistake, the US is the most moral and free nation ever conceived and built. The US brand consists of values which are unarguably the most moral and free. The US product - its behavour in those situations where those values are tested - bear as much relation to its brand as the toxic mess at McDonalds does to its representation on the sales brochure. And that clear perception of false advertising is the basis of so many nations rejection of US claims of moral ascendancy. So I respectfully disagree with you.
posted by RichLyon at 7:06 AM on December 18, 2002


I really don't understand crasspastor's reaction. As ROU pointed out, I think it is better that if we are going to have to kill people for war, I much prefer the cold calm surgical precision that this video demonstrates. The fact that we have complicated rules of engagement, with a JAG, the gunner, the pilot, etc all in careful communication makes me much more confident that we are doing everything we can to destroy opposing military capability while doing as little damage to the civilian population as possible.

I think it is natural to have a visceral reaction to the footage. The video illustrates in a rather concise manner how gigantic an advantage we have militarily. All this "nintendo war" talk is silly though. It is just a way to inspire feelings of carelessness and indifference associated with these military actions without making a real argument why they are careless or reckless.
posted by McBain at 7:13 AM on December 18, 2002


jsonic:

1) The video is most likely from the AC-130 infrared detection set, which is not a gun-mounted camera. It is possible that the video originates from another platform like an RQ-1 Predator, but it's impossible for me to say.

2) Most of the dirt that had it's temperature elevated is ejected from the crater and dispersed. Also, infrared signatures are obscured by smoke, which can be clearly seen in the video.

I can't speak to 3) because I never served aboard one, and 4) is anyone's guess. 8)
posted by Cerebus at 7:21 AM on December 18, 2002


Re the recent posts about American democratic values: No one ever thought these really apply to the behavior of a democratic state towards its rivals or its dependents. (Any view to the contrary is an imaginary, albeit possibly very important, vision of an unrealized future form of global coexistence.) There is a more pressing problem, and that's that the democratic society under the strain of war doesn't always stay in touch with its values at home either, and this can lead to a foreign policy so unproductively punitive that the interests of the good democratic citizens back home are no longer being served. References to both aspects of all this: it's ancient history. For the record, I am articulating a fear, not a diagnosis of the Afghanistan campaign. But new U.S. passion for "preemption," smug ineptitude in defusing the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, etc., do raise these issues
posted by Zurishaddai at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2002


Given that humanity now numbers in the 6+ billion range, and growing, I expect many, many more wars to break out in the coming decades. Pack more animals into a limited space with limited resources, and they will fight to survive every time. Social structures and movements won't change those basic facts. Only some large scale, extremely deadly Malthusian crises can change the pressure.

From a long term, evolutionary view of Homo sapiens, I'd suggest that to survive, you need to get used to war. And, if you want your genetic material to survive, get really good at it. Seems like the USA has that message loud and clear.

I hold out no hope for "changing" the species. Evolution works by killing off large populations, individual by individual, sometimes to the point of extinction. Those who survive pass on those survival traits to the next generation. As I see it, humans are becoming genetically "wired" to excel at war--that is the result of the natural selection of past millenia. Biology trumps any short-term attempt by culture to alter behavior.
posted by mooncrow at 7:43 AM on December 18, 2002


Very good point mooncrow. That aspect is ignored all too often.
posted by Witty at 7:47 AM on December 18, 2002


Zurishaddai - it's a thoughtful post. But what if it is not the threat of war that is straining your values, but your failure to adhere to your values that creates the threat of war? (God forbid, now that we learn that the US is already in negotiation to secure exclusive access to Iraqi oil and the means to destroy OPEC, we go down the route that the war has actually, really been manufactured to serve strategic US energy interests and not a "war on terror" after all - that would really make any apologies for lapses of values indefensible).
posted by RichLyon at 8:01 AM on December 18, 2002


I'm coming late to this thread, so I'm addressing some posts at the top.

The yelling that you hear in the background a guy yelling "Gun ready!" when the gun is re-loaded and the next shell is ready for firing. The shells are roughly equivalent to tank shells, as attested to by the large explosions they make.
posted by Lafe at 8:34 AM on December 18, 2002


If this is a real video it's probably illegal to release to the public.

vampirebat.com is registered to one Everett Arnold, who seems to be the Director of Publications at Kerrigan Media, which publishes Military Information Online, and other magazines for DoD purchasing officers.

"KMI is an entrepreneurial publishing company led by a successful, experienced management team engaged in effectively taking focused, highest-quality printed DoD products into the Internet era. We demonstrate the flexibility necessary to move at Internet speed, well ahead of the market at any moment while remaining intimately connected to our market, readers and advertisers."

Indeed.

Just a guess, but it looks like this video is a purposeful leak from your government to you. A promotional video, backdoored into a P2P press release. A technical demonstration for anyone wondering how good our gear really is. Red meat for the "vengeance is mine, sayeth the 40mm" crowd.

And for those whose first reaction is this video is cool, I have three words: Afghani Wedding Party. That probably looked just like this. The soldiers who attacked the wedding party also believed they were fired upon. For all we know this could actually be the wedding party attack.

Also, the person who made this file created it on 12/06/2002, and(places envelope to turban) might be either named Curt, or female, has tattoos, and really doesn't like Curt.
posted by dglynn at 8:59 AM on December 18, 2002


For those of you who viewed the linked video, thank you for participating in this experiment of propaganda. Your reactions have been noted. You will not be notified when you are exposed to the next experiment. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, the government of the United States, Department of Defense.
posted by crunchland at 9:15 AM on December 18, 2002


As I see it, humans are becoming genetically "wired" to excel at war--that is the result of the natural selection of past millenia.

Mooncrow: there's far far far more to natural selection than the ability to 'excel at war.' A minor example: a single species of virus (smallpox) has killed more humans throughout recorded history than has war. You might review your bio 101 text.
posted by shoos at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2002


Mooncrow Pack more animals into a limited space with limited resources, and they will fight to survive every time.

Except, of course, the resources aren't really limited, its just that one of the animals wants unfettered access to them all - really, really badly. The portrayal of America's concept of unfettered consumption as a fight for survival is not a convincing one.
posted by RichLyon at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2002


The link's not working for me. Anybody got a mirror?
posted by NortonDC at 9:31 AM on December 18, 2002


Except, of course, the resources aren't really limited

ALL resources are limited. We may differ in our assessments of the degree to which they are limited, but to claim that they aren't limited just flies in the face of reality.
posted by rushmc at 10:05 AM on December 18, 2002


rushmc - a resource is limited at precisely the point when its rate of consumption exceeds its rate of renewal. Otherwise it is indistinguishable from unlimited.

e.g. the resource of the atmosphere's carbon dioxide load capacity is consumed by emission and renewed by sequestration. There is a rate of emission below which emission can take place indefinitely and the resource acts as if it were infinite.

Consumption rates, for the US, are set overwhelmingly on the basis of choice and convenience, not necessity. Choice and convenience does not provide the moral basis for declaring war on others.

This is not a novel point, or one that will stand a huge amount of debate, is it? We are a long, long way off topic.
posted by RichLyon at 11:22 AM on December 18, 2002


>>Neato technology represented as"only could be possibly ever pointed at 'evil-doers' anyway".

>Don't see where you got that. There's no physical law that
>prevents the air force from sending the Spectres to turn my
>town into dog food. I don't think it's likely, but hey.

You never can tell, they could vote Democrat in an upcoming election and King George would be left with no other alternative...
posted by johnmunsch at 11:34 AM on December 18, 2002


Niahmas - What's this? This video is narrated by Puff Daddy, and features an old guy with his personal hemp farm. Am I supposed to take this seriously?
posted by falameufilho at 11:50 AM on December 18, 2002


How inspiring. Brave Americans at work again. For comparison, here are some excerpts from our last little American war:

John Brasfield had brought a small, inexpensive tape recorder to the Gulf and, while handling the radios on Lieutenant Allen's Humvee, routinely taped transmissions. He would ship some of the tapes home, he thought, and give his wife a glimpse of war. His tape recorder was running as Allen's Humvee sped away from the prisoners, and from the bullets from the Bradleys' machine guns....

"The lead company behind us is tearing up all those vehicles," someone tells battalion headquarters as the recording begins. "I hope they understand what a Humvee looks Like," he adds, referring to the indiscriminate firing in the direction of the Scouts.

A moment later, a Scout reports on the platoon radio net, "Twenty-five mikemike blowing approximately five hundred metres behind me with my ass end showing." He's telling Lieutenant Allen that machine-gun fire is trailing his Humvee. "You're not supposed to be in that area," Alien responds.

"There's no one shooting at them," another Scout says on the platoon net, referring to the Bradleys. "Why'd they have to shoot?"

Allen reports on Ware's battalion net, "There's shooting, but there's no one there" -- no combatants -- "to shoot at." Ware answers, "I understand," and then asks a series of operational questions about maps.

Later, Manchester asks Allen, "Sir, what element is firing behind us?"

Allen: "I have no fucking idea."

An unidentified Scout asks, "Why are we shooting at these people when they are not shooting at us?"

Brasfield: "They want to surrender.... Fucking armored vehicles [the Bradleys]. They don't have to blow them apart."

Sporadic firing continues. Someone asks Allen, "Why don't you tell them, sir, that they are willing to surrender. Tell 'em that." Someone else says, amid the noise,"It's murder."


'Course, judging from many of the reactions to the thread above, war to some is just another E-ticket ride, or a welcome diversion from the latest sitcom or political thriller on TeeVee. Odd how so many of those hawkish here and abroad aren't the ones who have to go and fight. Odd that they are the last ones to march right down to a recruiting station and volunteer...volunteer their apparent knowledge and appreciation of military technology and their oh so cool indifference to war's suffering in defense of their glorious Homeland.

To chickenhawks, war is fun. Whee. But why shouldn't it be? They're fighting it from the safety of their war/weblogs.

dhartung: Sure, it would have looked better if they were firing back, but fairness is not a requirement of the laws of war; the enemy has a capability, you are fully justified in interdicting that capability. You don't have to wait until he shoots at you. Our soldiers on the ground, in the gunship, and in the targeting authority acted professionally and coolly.

Tell us again how your miserable little mandate differs from Osama Bin Laden's marching orders to his little troopies.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:00 PM on December 18, 2002


fold_and_mutilate: It differs in that they are on the other side, and that's about it. Its a pretty key distinction though. Also, they drop flares as countermeasures, apparently they thought they were being fire upon.

More on the afghan wedding party and yeah, it probably looked a lot like this. Were they firing on the people that came out of the mosque?
posted by Manjusri at 1:58 PM on December 18, 2002


Otherwise it is indistinguishable from unlimited.

Only if one's frame of reference is limited to a single point consisting of one exact moment in time (the present). That strikes me as a viewpoint of very limited usefulness.
posted by rushmc at 2:37 PM on December 18, 2002


For those of you asking what was being yelled when rounds were fired, it was the gun loaders actually yelling inside the aircraft, letting the pilot and sensor operators know that the gun is ready to fire again.



More info about the AC-130
posted by BaMBaM at 3:31 PM on December 18, 2002


What is with all this trying to work out what is being said / what type of ammo is being used? If it's to try and prove it's a fake, then I've got to say that anyone who went to that amount of trouble would have made sure their (fake) radio was OK. other than than that it all seems to be a bit fanboy guns and tanks monthly for me.

Sorry, but I think there's enough here to try and get our heads round without worrying about the exact type of machinery being used. Surely that's missing the point?

IMHO I found the tape horrific, and a reminder that war is something I am very glad to be too old to fight. We will probably never know if the casualties shown here were legitimate targets or not, so it seems to me we are left with two discussions. Firstly, are these attacks warrented? Well, that's being dealt with in numerous other threads, so the second question seems to be, what is the point of tape like this?

I fail to believe that a tape of this quality can be released without someones say so. I find this sort of image deeply offensive, along with phrases such as collateral damage. None of it says what it really means. Having said that I was 100% behind an attack on Afghanistan. I see the McVeigh side of the argumnet, but 9/11 demanded a response, and I've yet to see a better argument than attcking Afghanistan (I've seen lots of reasons not to, but no one with a better alternative). After that, however, I see no reason to attack Iraq (over any other tin pot dictator that is).

So what does this tape show us? That the US can provide precision strikes? we all know that's not true, there's no such thing. That war can be won from the air? I say Vietnam.

For me this tape is little more than pornography, it reduces human beings to nothing more than small dots and helps us to step away from the harsh fact of killing. War is unpleasant, and sometime unpleasnat things have to be done, I accept that, but please don't try and de-sensitize us to the horror that is loss of life with "state of the art" footage like this.

Oh my God I think I'm begining to rant, time I went and played Counter Strike.
posted by ciderwoman at 7:12 PM on December 18, 2002


I sent the link to Carleton Meyer, USMC,--who is hardly your Marxist peacenik--of the iconoclastically wonky and anti-imperialist g2mil.
His response:
Thanks, I had seen that. It was just posted at www.military.com too.
It doesn't look like attacking "military activity"--just shooting some people on the ground.

FWIW, if worth anything...
posted by y2karl at 7:13 PM on December 18, 2002


That war can be won from the air? I say Vietnam.

I say Bosnia.
posted by NortonDC at 9:51 PM on December 18, 2002


NortonDC: The video can be found on military.com, as referenced by y2karl's g2mil guy, here.
posted by Zurishaddai at 10:27 PM on December 18, 2002


fold_and_mutilate, you sure do come up with some goods ones every now and then... truly amazing.

To chickenhawks, war is fun. Whee. But why shouldn't it be? They're fighting it from the safety of their war/weblogs.

And you are...? Where are you opposing this war from?

And another thing. DO NOT EVER doubt or judge the bravery of any soldier based solely on the manner through which said soldier performs his/her job. If you're so sure that it doesn't take a very brave man or woman to participate in war in any fashion, then you're awfully foolish. Stay outta my foxhole bitch.
posted by Witty at 1:21 AM on December 19, 2002


Do not ever doubt or judge the thoughts, the ~35 years, the childhood, the adolescence, the puberty, the adulthood, the loved ones, the family, extended family, the friends, the hope, the hate, the love, the fear, of a fucking pixel scurrying for it's life as though it were not a human "bitch".

You wanna know what's brave in humanitarian terms Witty?

Rationalism, democracy and humanity. Your fox hole is your grave. Don't drag into your grave, idealists that have saved and died for your war-mongering ass in order for humanity to know ever more liberty.
posted by crasspastor at 1:54 AM on December 19, 2002


I only skimmed the thread, but I think the authenticity of this footage is still considered in question...

I'm surprised nobody posted this, as it IS indeed real. Moreover, it was officially released by the US Military to CNN, if you can believe that. I personally would have thought they'd at least edit the audio. From the article, it seems that it was originally circulating as a sort of Afghanistan campaign highlight reel before CNN lobbied to obtain it.

Now, I don't have access to their premium rich media service, so i couldn't watch their video, but its a safe guess that either these are one and the same, or its a re-encoded version from their source. Either way, its shocking that this was from a major media outlet a few months ago, and is only now making waves. I'm also guessing that it was deemed too graphic/disturbing to air on their cable broadcast.

I saw this video a few days ago and i still have mixed and conflicting emotions about it. I'll spare you my opinions though, being that this baby's well over 100 posts already. Just wanted to demystify things.
posted by trick at 2:23 AM on December 19, 2002


if the fuckin pixel was sympathetic to al qaeda, fuck that bitch and his humanity
posted by shoos at 2:49 AM on December 19, 2002


I fail to see how this video-clip serves to desensitize the viewer. I am sure that anyone watching is acutely aware that the pixels obscured by smoke and explosions represent real people being killed - I know I was.

I remember every clip of death that I have seen:

Two french soldiers being sniped in Sarajevo
American soldiers killed by friendly helicopter fire
A russian convoy ambushed by afghan soldiers
And finally this piece of video

Every time I have been confronted with the reality of war (people being killed in front of the camera) I am reminded that war should only be fought as an absolute last resort.

And in this particular case (the driving out of the Taleban) I am also reminded that war seems to be the first resort of the ever-changing American administrations. Why is that? Were there really no other options available than the ruthless killing of those unfortunate people caught outside the mosk? - how about taking them prisoner?

Will anything bring home the harsh nature of their power to the American people - thus restraining their hilt-reaching instinct? It seems that this clip is not enough.
posted by FidelDonson at 3:42 AM on December 19, 2002


FidelDonson: You can't take everyone prisoner... simple as that.

crasspastor: YOU are the one calling it a pixel. You don't know any better than the rest of us what exactly the men in the plane were thinking and feeling. They were doing a job with the tools that WE provided them. It is simply wrong to judge them based on how they perform their job. And it is extremely wrong to judge their bravery based on the fact that they have the benefit of higher technology.

It's very touching that you think war is terrible and bad... we all feel that way. You're not enlightening anybody here to the evils of war. But the reality is, it happens and it will continue to happen long after YOUR set of pixels has been deleted and dumped from the recycle bin. So snap out of your little hallmark fantasy land.
posted by Witty at 5:08 AM on December 19, 2002


OK - so let me se if I got it right. We have not got the resources to take everyone prisoner so instead they must be killed. That's absurd.

I am not suggesting that you take everyone prisoner. How about simply rounding everyone up and setting the innocent ones free - instead of indiscriminately killing every unfortunate being outside the mosk.

And I think you are wrong Witty - I think we have the resources to do the right thing - but don't want to waste them, saving the lives of people no one cares about anyway.
posted by FidelDonson at 5:47 AM on December 19, 2002


Question: How did this become public?

Answer: It was intentionally leaked in order to demoralize opposition to the United States from abroad. The Internet is great for this, and the bad guys will pick it up. "We can take you out from far above, just like a video game. There isn't a damn thing you can do about it, and we'll hunt you down one by one if we have to. You cannot defend yourselves."

Speculation: It would be even more interesting if this particular video was leaked for a specific reason. Like it had a major leader who survived the attack (wounded or unhurt). He could watch it from the clean, sterile US perspective and see the futility of resisting. Of course, I don't such a person has much choice at this point beyond hiding/resisting.
posted by jmccorm at 6:10 AM on December 19, 2002


I remember every clip of death that I have seen:

Two french soldiers being sniped in Sarajevo
American soldiers killed by friendly helicopter fire
A russian convoy ambushed by afghan soldiers
And finally this piece of video


The one that I can still see if I close my eyes is this Wehrmacht soldier in Paris who'd been molotoved and is running frantically with his head on fire until he collapses presumably cut down by the people offcamera who then run up and start looting his body.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:58 AM on December 19, 2002


It was intentionally leaked in order to demoralize opposition to the United States from abroad.

Pretty much. I'd seen the video when it was first linked at MeFi, but just now (two weeks later) it was shown at the tail end of the Global National newscast here in Canada. The newscaster said it was declassified by the Pentagon and that they (the Pentagon) wanted to show its "prowess" (that was the newscaster's word).
posted by sillygwailo at 6:11 PM on January 2, 2003


This was just posted to MetaTalk in regards to this thread

" A followup to this thread about the AC-130 gunship footage. It is authentic. I watched this NOVA program on PBS last night and they showed the same footage and confirmed it was from the camera of Predator that was monitoring an AC-130. I didnt want to post this on the blue page 'cause I didnt see much to discuss, but thought people would be interested in knowing the authenticity of the video.
posted by jsonic"
posted by mathowie at 8:16 AM on January 8, 2003


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