Today marks the first anniversary of the day we first heard the name Ethan McCord. Two weeks earlier, WikiLeaks started to become a household name in the U.S.—when Julian Assange released the video he had titled “Collateral Murder.” It showed a 2007 incident in Baghdad when a US Apache copter crew gunned down more than a dozen Iraqis, most likely civilians, on the streets below, including two Reuters staffers.
After a flurry of publicity, the episode soon faded from the media, although three major WikiLeaks releases followed last year, all allegedly coming via Private Bradley Manning, now sitting in near-solitary confinement in the brig at Quantico.
But largely thanks to one soldier who was in the thick of things on that day in 2007, the incident is far from over.
He is Ethan McCord, who spoke out in an interview published by Wired online on APril 20, 2010, after the release of the video to testify that he was on the scene that day and helped rescue two badly injured children (who were riding in a van driven by their father who had tried to helped the wounded only to be killed himself) and carry them to a vehicle that took them to a hospital. He has since continued to protest what happened that day — and the war in Iraq.
Now he is featured in a film short that will debut this weekend at the Tribeca Film Festival, with three more screenings to follow. Here is a link to the film’s site which includes background, a trailer and a director’s statement in which he reveals he is now working on a feature length film and hopes to talk with the triggerman.
My colleague Kevin Gosztola talked to McCord last month. McCord says that he has turned over all photos from that day and they will air soon. Here is the audio and transcript.
One key quote from McCord: “The video was released on April 5th of 2010. However, the entire incident was written about in a book by David Finkel called The Good Soldiers. So, they’re stating that this was classified, but it was already released back in 2009 through a book so how is it classified if it’s already for released? I mean, word for word this video is described in the book The Good Soldiers so yet we’re going to charge Bradley Manning for releasing classified information. Shouldn’t we also be charging David Finkel for writing this book detailing the entire engagement in his book in 2009?”
Finally, below, here is an excerpt from my The Age of WikiLeaks book—recounting the surprising interview McCord gave nearly one year ago.
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One of the most remarkable interviews relating to this whole episode came to light on April 20, 2010, when Kim Zetter at Wired revealed that she had located and interviewed one of the soldiers in the video.
He was Ethan McCord, 33, the father of three who had left the Army after seven years and was now living in Kansas. In the video, McCord was seen carrying the 10-year-old boy, Sajad, from the van to seek medical care. He had recently posted a letter online—with fellow soldier Josh Steiber—asking Sajad’s family’s forgiveness and backing the WikiLeaks release of the video.