April 13th, 2010 16:14 EST
Robert Gates Calls Video Of US Helicopter Killing Iraqis "Painful To Watch"
By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 12, 2010 " Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said recently published footage of a U.S. Apache helicopter killing 12 people in Iraq, including two Reuters news agency personnel, was painful to watch, " and that the attack has been thoroughly investigated.
The 17-minute video from a July 12, 2007, air strike shows U.S. military personnel gunning down a group perceived to be armed militants and opening fire on a subsequent rescue attempt. The footage was made available last week by WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing Web site that publishes anonymous submissions and leaked documents.
We`ve investigated it very thoroughly. And it`s unfortunate -- it`s clearly not helpful, " Gates said yesterday on ABC News` This Week. " But by the same token, I think it should not have any lasting consequences. "
Asked if the release of the video would damage the image of the United States in the world, Gates said he didn`t think so.
They`re in a combat situation. The video doesn`t show the broader picture of the firing that was going on at American troops, " he said. It`s obviously a hard thing to see. It`s painful to see, especially when you learn, after the fact, what was going on. "
A defense official interviewed for the story said a perfect storm " of circumstances contributed to the missteps. The official said a longer version of the video, also available online, shows the fuller context of the air strike, including evidence of nearby gunfire.
You talked about the fog of war -- these people were operating in split-second situations, " Gates said.
The findings of the U.S. military investigation are available on the U.S. Central Command Web site in the Freedom of Information Act Reading Room section.