Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Media Take: Afghanistan, trust and NetHui

24 Responses

  • Kevin McCready,

    The stuff report (now with a correction about the earlier claim that Jon said it was a revenge attack) says "US military had already confirmed that gun sights on their helicopters malfunctioned during that mission and an unintended target might have been hit. " I find it very hard to believe gun sights malfunctioned. Any info on this?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2013 • 119 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    I find it very hard to believe gun sights malfunctioned.

    Why do you find it hard to believe? They’re not using iron sights, they’re using cameras and computers. Electronics crap out at the most wonderfully helpful moments. A loose connection, a faulty transistor, a blown fuse… So many, many ways things can go wrong.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kevin McCready,

    I find it very hard to believe gun sights malfunctioned. Any info on this?

    It seems less likely than recklessness as an explanation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    A loose connection, a faulty transistor, a blown fuse… So many, many ways things can go wrong.

    Sixteen civilians were hit by helicopter gunship fire as they sought shelter. The villagers say there were no insurgents there and no evidence has been produced to the contrary. I don't think it was a malfunctioning gunsight.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I find it very hard to believe gun sights malfunctioned. Any info on this?

    It seems less likely than recklessness as an explanation.

    Or a combination of the two. "I think that's close enough, but don't have the usual accuracy. Oh well, that'll have to do," instead of "Can't shoot accurately. I'm pulling out."

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Sixteen civilians were hit by helicopter gunship fire as they sought shelter.

    Sixteen? The article Kevin linked says six. Bit of a difference.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    It's not like Vietnam:

    How can you shoot women and children?
    It's easy, you just don't lead them as much.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Matthew Poole,

    Sixteen? The article Kevin linked says six. Bit of a difference.

    Actually I was wrong – just checked the report. It’s 21. Six killed and 15 injured.

    Edit: Also the villagers' accounts of where they were shot (outside, running for cover) didn't match with the US explanation (a couple of rounds fell short and hit a building).

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    If the gunsights had malfunctioned I would have thought that nobody would have been gunned down, or do they have different settings for military and civilian targets?

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to william blake,

    If the gunsights had malfunctioned I would have thought that nobody would have been gunned down, or do they have different settings for military and civilian targets?

    I assume that the "malfunction" in this case is that a video recording of the incident escaped. If the system had been functioning correctly the video would never have been seen by anyone outside the US military.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1233 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Moz,

    I assume that the “malfunction” in this case is that a video recording of the incident escaped. If the system had been functioning correctly the video would never have been seen by anyone outside the US military.

    No, as is made clear in the introduction, the combat video is not from the mission in question.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Curtis,

    The Apache gunships use a monocle gunsight, as shown here by Prince Harry, who was a front seat or weapons operator in Afghanistan.
    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/multimedia/archive/00376/120298959__376246b.jpg


    The computer projects the target information onto the monocle glass.
    Doesnt seem to be a reliable way to target people, a slight movement of the head and the house is hit instead of the truck on the road

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 314 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R,

    The sights on the chain-gun on the Apache helicopter are slaved to the pilot and/or gunners helmet. Turn your head, and the gun moves to follow where the pilot is looking.

    I could well believe that that could end up slightly out of alignment, such that shooting ends up off-set from where the pilot expects. Banging the helmet accidentally when putting it on might be enough. There's still lots of dangerous 30mm HE shells heading down range, just not where the pilot expected.

    Of course, "malfunction" could be the term you use when you kill someone you shouldn't have, without having to admit that you screwed up.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Stephen R,

    I could well believe that that could end up slightly out of alignment

    If I recall correctly from the first-person pilot accounts I've read, the 'splash zone' for the cannon on the Apache has a radius of around 10-15m at the best of times. Meaning that rounds might impact anywhere in a radius of 10-15m from your actual aiming point.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • David R,

    The 30mm autocannons on the Apache are not "precision" weapons so shooting them anywhere near civilians is asking for them to die. Watch enough of the garish gun camera footage and you'll agree. The dispersion on the bursts can be rather large.

    Anyway, we shouldn't be focusing on that. We should perhaps be focusing on why these people are being killed in our name. Perhaps it was an accident, but civilians deaths are the inevitable result of war and whether the Americans did it,whether we did it is besides the point.

    AKL • Since Sep 2008 • 21 posts Report Reply

  • william blake,

    To note Wayne Mapp's distancing of himself from his categorical denial of any civilian casualties with the phrase "based on information provided by the defence force", which sounds like a variation on the gun sight malfunction bullshit.

    Respect to Stevenson for the work he does, crazy bastard.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    But Mr key has said this kinda thing (Drone strikes, etc) is just 'prosecuting' suspected terrorists, and he's comfortable with that - so what could possibly be wrong with that?
    </loaded sarcasm>

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    But Mr key has said this kinda thing (Drone strikes, etc) is just 'prosecuting' suspected terrorists, and he's comfortable with that - so what could possibly be wrong with that?

    Surely it's actually conviction and capital punishment, rather than mere prosecution? Capital punishment without a trial; based on information provided by the NZ government (or the GCSB, which might be somewhat more independent).

    That bothers me a lot, but I'm not sure what can be done about it.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • david kinniburgh,

    Stephen R, in reply to Ian Dalziel, about an hour ago
    But Mr key has said this kinda thing (Drone strikes, etc) is just ‘prosecuting’ suspected terrorists, and he’s comfortable with that – so what could possibly be wrong with that?

    Surely it’s actually conviction and capital punishment, rather than mere prosecution? Capital punishment without a trial; based on information provided by the NZ government (or the GCSB, which might be somewhat more independent).

    More details at:

    The Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Drone strikes in Pakistan:
    CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals: at this link

    http://www.thebureauinvestigates.com/2012/02/04/obama-terror-drones-cia-tactics-in-pakistan-include-targeting-rescuers-and-funerals/

    Auckland • Since Jan 2012 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • david kinniburgh,

    More from WaPo, that bastion of objective news reporting, on the scope of NSA's data collection:

    Many other files, described as useless by the analysts but nonetheless retained, have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/in-nsa-intercepted-data-those-not-targeted-far-outnumber-the-foreigners-who-are/2014/07/05/8139adf8-045a-11e4-8572-4b1b969b6322_story.html

    Auckland • Since Jan 2012 • 29 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Just a reminder that the show screens a little earlier than usual tonight on Maori television: 10.15pm

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • izogi, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I have lots of respect for Jon Stephenson. I’m sure there’s something to this story, and I’m immensely appreciative of people like him who go to high-risk places like these to get these stories out. But as someone who’s not well versed in everything Afghanistan and nearby places (and hoping for someone who can give a qualified response), how reliable is it to simply ask villagers these sorts of questions?

    If they say there weren’t insurgents, does that mean there probably weren’t? Or does it mean they’re possibly afraid to say that there were? Or does it mean that they might be in league with insurgents and outright lying about what happened because it’s in their interests to make it appear that only civilians were involved?

    I’m abhorred by all this type of crap to begin with, and I’m feeling somewhere between wary of and insulted by the strong distinctions we frequently get presented with between “civilian” and “insurgent”/“terrorist”, as if semantic details somehow justify storming into places, destroy them and killing people. I’m sure the full story is frequently not that simple. But I guess that’s why I’m also wondering about the possibility that the stuff behind Jon Stephenson’s report might not be as simple as he presents it.

    [Sorry, accidentally attached this comment as a reply to Ian’s but it’s intended as more general.]

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 1141 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand, in reply to Russell Brown,

    I got a message from Brioni to say it was screening at 10.15pm

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2560 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Geoff Lealand,

    Gah! that's what I *meant* to say!

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

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