This recently released video of the 2007 killing of photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, and his driver, in Baghdad by U.S. troops is one of the most heartbreaking things I have ever seen.
It is incredibly disturbing, so in case you don’t want to watch the actual video, here is a link to the article by the New York Times, which does a very good job of describing the important parts of the video.
Reuters had attempted to get the video for years through an FOI request, but it was an anonymous whistle-blower leak via wikileaks that led the the release.
In addition to the devastating implications of the video, and the pain of the families, there are several important subtexts to this video release.
1) It shows the importance of anonymity of sources. I’m sure this doesn’t make the federal government more excited about a federal shield law, but for citizens, and for the fallen, it couldn’t be any more important than this. This video was “classified” and not released after years of official FOI requests. But as you can see, there is nothing in the video that reveals intelligence. In fact, it simply reveals the horrors of war, and raises outrage. The government shouldn’t be able to hide behind the principle of “government secrets,” in an effort to hide things that are only sensitive because it makes them look bad. Those within the government who realize this should be protected.
2) For those who glorify or romanticize the idea of being a war photographer, this also shows how dangerous it really is. Every photojournalism student should be required to watch this.
Let me repeat… if you are a photojournalism student, you need to watch this video. If you are an American you should be outraged.