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Military's Killing of 2 Journalists in Iraq Detailed in New Book

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The others followed the gaze and looked up, too.

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The gunner fired.

Seven of the nine men in the group began to fall, but Noor-Eldeen and Chmagh managed to run away, according to Finkel. The gunner tracked Noor-Eldeen as he fled into a pile of trash and fired three more bursts with the cannon, killing him as he could be seen trying to stand in a cloud of dust.

Chmagh was wounded and began trying to push himself up on his knees and crawl away, but could move only a few inches. The crew saw that Chmagh was alive, but initially did not shoot him because he was unarmed. However, when a van drove up and two men tried to pick up Chmagh, the crew requested permission to fire and received it. The gunner opened fire, killing Chmagh and the two men, and injuring two children who were inside the van.

Soon after the shootings, Reuters submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act for all documents and materials about the incident, Kim said. In April, the U.S. Central Command, which oversees the U.S. military in Iraq, said it had identified eight documents but was withholding two because they were classified and released six others in redacted form, with classified portions blacked out.

Reuters appealed in June, saying the information the military released was incomplete, challenging the decision to classify it and asking for an expedited decision. In July, the Pentagon rejected the request to expedite the appeal, Kim said. He said one of the documents released contains grainy photographs that appear to be captured from a helicopter video, which Reuters is seeking to obtain.

"It's difficult to understand whether the investigation is coming to sound conclusions without actually seeing the evidence," he said. "It is hard to make heads or tails out of the screen grabs from the video, so we would like to see the video . . . the actual unedited version of what happened on the scene."

Frank Smyth, the journalist security coordinator for the CPJ, said the U.S. military has not made public several other investigations involving the deaths of journalists killed by U.S. forces, and said that more transparency is important both for accountability and for preventing such incidents in the future.

"This case is one of quite a few, more than 10 at least, where journalists have been killed by U.S. fire in Iraq and it has not been investigated in a public way," Smyth said. "Once we have information, judgments can be made on whether they were justified."

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said U.S military personnel have repeatedly met with news managers in recent years to discuss safety issues, and U.S. commanders also have taken measures to remind troops of the presence of reporters on the battlefield. "We think the safest way to cover these operations is to be embedded with U.S. forces," he said.


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