Commander Defends „Collateral Murder“ Pilots: „These are Attack Pilots Wearing Gloves of Steel“
The commander of the U.S. Apache pilots who were caught on tape firing on civilians in Iraq in the infamous „Collateral Murder“ video has spoken out about the incident for the first time. Retired Lieutenant Colonel Chris Walach spoke to the Army Times ahead of the release this past Friday of „The Fifth Estate,“ a feature film about WikiLeaks. Walach defended the behavior of the pilots, which was seen around the world after WikiLeaks posted the video, provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, in 2010. The video, recorded in July 2007, shows U.S. pilots mocking their victims and celebrating as they carry out an attack that killed 12 people, including two Reuters employees. Reuters driver Saeed Chmagh survived an initial strike, but the pilots fired again when they saw people trying to load the wounded Chmagh into a van.
U.S. SOLDIER 1: „I hear ’em — I lost ’em in the dust.“
U.S. SOLDIER 2: „I got ’em.“
U.S. SOLDIER 3: „Should have a van in the middle of the road with about 12 to 15 bodies.“
U.S. SOLDIER 1: „Oh yeah, look at that. Right through the windshield! Ha ha!“
Earlier this month, Walach, the pilots’ commander, told the Army Times, „In Iraq, you can’t put pink gloves on Apache helicopter pilots and send them into the Ultimate Fighting ring and ask them to take a knee. These are attack pilots wearing gloves of steel, and they go into the ring throwing powerful punches of explosive steel. They are there to win, and they will win.“