February 6, 2007
The classified cockpit video leaked by a London tabloid appears to
show American pilots in Iraq trying to determine whether a military
convoy below is friend or foe.
There's confusion about their target's precise location but they're
told by air traffic control: 'you are well clear of friendlies.'
Then, twice, the two A-10 gunships open fire with direct hits. Seconds too late, came confirmation the target was a British column of tanks.
"We're getting an initial brief that there was one killed and one wounded, over" says the US air traffic controller.
The victim in the 2003 incident was Lance Corporal Matty Hull. Four
other British soldiers were also injured.
After a long, dreadful silence the pilots' mistake sinks in.
Pilot 1: "I'm gonna be sick."
Pilot 2: "Ah, (expletive)"
Pilot 1: "Did you hear?"
Pilot 2: "Yeah this sucks"
Pilot1: "We're in jail dude"
Coroners investigating Lance Corporal Hull's death had demanded the
video be released as evidence, but US authorities refused.
Now that it's all over tv, they're asking again. US officials say they're
weighing the decision carefully.
"We're making sure that when we release it we're doing things that are wise to do rather than just doing things to respond to a moment's news story" said David Johnson, US Deputy Ambassador to the UK.
The US Air Force conducted its own investigation into the friendly fire
incident near Basra but the results were not made public. Neither the
pilots nor the air controller faced a court-martial.
The British investigation resumes next week.