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The Iraq War Logs Digested: Wikileaks, Assange And Torture Photos

by | 23rd, October 2010

WIKILEAKS has released more files on US military actions in the Iraq war. They have been called, rather grandly, ‘The Iraq War Logs’. They aren’t. These are just the ones that have been leaked. Millions more documents remain the property of the US military and her allies. They help us to form a clearer picture of what has gone on in Iraq. They are only part of the story.

The Pentagon says the 392,000 files are a danger to US national security. We learn that up until December 2009, 66,081 civilians died among a total of 109,000 war fatalities.

The Wikileaker

Julian Assange is the face and fonder of Wikileaks. He’s in London. Says he:

This organization does not let anyone hang out to dry. We always expect tremendous criticism. It is my role to be the lightning rod … to attract the attacks against the organization for our work, and that is a difficult role. On the other hand. I get undue credit.”

His Legacy?

Where is Assange’s respect for service? And where is his respect for those with more information than he will ever amass, even given the variety, and perhaps honest instincts, of his sources? We do not know. And it will not matter. The collateral damage of his actions makes folly of what he says is ethical. – Lea Carpenter

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The Chosen Organs

The files were released to these organisations: the New York Times, the Guardian, Le Monde, Al Jazeera and Der Spiegel.

The NY Times says it will not publish any information that will “put lives in danger or jeopardize continuing military operations.” The names of informants have been redacted. But, still, the documents have been widely distributed. Will all news organs keep the names of the informants secret?

Bias

The Guardian leads its coverage with photos of three Iraqi men handcuffed and blindfolded being led away by US forces.

What impression does this form?

The Telegraph leads its coverage with smoke rising from a building in Baghdad and a helicopter flying overhead. No human life is in view. We are told:

The files also detail how US Apache helicopters killed insurgents who were trying to surrender.

But with no human faces the human cost is no all that evident.

The Guardian picsk out a few highlights, ones all new organs go with:

US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.

But it’s not Iraqi police in the photos.

• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.

• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.

The New York Times revealed that:

The grisly abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqis may have been even worse than the shocking mistreatment of detainees by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.

The Iraqi military, which has provided the United States with an exit strategy as it took over security duties from U.S. troops, intervened aggressively on the side of Shiite militias during the height of the Shiite-Sunni civil war — and in some instances directly engaged U.S. forces.

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The Spectre of Abu Ghraib

The public image of detainees in Iraq was defined by the photographs, now infamous, of American abuse at Abu Ghraib, like the hooded prisoner and the snarling attack dog. While the documents disclosed by WikiLeaks offer few glimpses of what was happening inside American detention facilities, they do contain indelible details of abuse carried out by Iraq’s army and police… Even when Americans found abuse and reported it, Iraqis often did not act. NYT

torture-pointing2

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The Pentagon

Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, says:

“We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies. We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us, and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. By disclosing such sensitive information, WikiLeaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us.”

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Hillary Clinton

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says government “should condemn in the most clear terms the disclosure of any information by individuals and or organizations which puts the lives of United States and its partners’ service members and civilians at risk.

The Dead In Numbers

How many people have died in the Iraq war? Thomas Joscelyn, write in the right-wing Weekly Standard:

Early Friday evening I received a link, via email, to this story at ABC News’s website by Russell Goldman and Luis Martinez. The opening sentences read (emphasis added):

In what is being described as the largest release of secret U.S. military documents ever, whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks has published a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq, including a secret U.S. government tally that put the Iraqi death toll at 285,000, according to news sources that received advanced copies of the documents.

A little while later I clicked on the link again, but now the opening sentences had been changed to read (emphasis added):

In what is being described as the largest release of secret U.S. military documents ever, the whistle-blowing web site WikiLeaks has released a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq, including a secret U.S. government tally that puts the Iraqi death toll between 109,000 and 285,000, according to news sources that received advanced copies of the documents.

And then a little later again (emphasis added):

The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks today released a trove of classified reports about the war in Iraq that it said documented at least 109,000 deaths in the war, a higher number than the United States previously has acknowledged, as well as what it described as cases of torture and other abuses by Iraqi and coalition forces.

This strikes me as indicative of the media’s overall reporting on the Iraq War. Media outlets initially jumped on the claim that WikiLeaks had released a previously secret study showing that 285,000 Iraqis had perished in Iraq. ABC News hadn’t even seen the study at the time of its initial report. Instead, it summarized other “news sources” that reportedly had.

The Torture

Al Jazeera:

“It was one of the stated aims of the war to end the torture chambers. But the secret files reveal a very different story. In graphic detail they record extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, Army bases, and prisons.”

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And the US?

US troops reported the abuse to their superiors on more than 100 occasions, according to the documents, but the military – at the highest levels – ordered troops not to intervene.

The Monitor has detailed the alleged torture and abuses that have continued in Iraqi prisons since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

“What I consider humane treatment of prisoners, is not what [Iraqi prison guards] would consider humane treatment,” Lt. Col. Shaun Reed, commander of a Baquba-based US infantry unit, whose work with Iraqi security forces has exposed him to Iraqi prison conditions, told the Monitor in 2009. He said it’s hard to change prison workers accustomed to brutality. “If you ask Iraqis what they think – it’s completely different.”

The Torture Victims

The archive contains extensive, often rambling accounts of American abuse from Iraqi prisoners, but few were substantiated. The most serious came during arrests, which were often violent when people resisted. In those cases, investigations were opened. In a case reminiscent of Abu Ghraib, in which guards photographed themselves with Iraqis whom they had posed in humiliating positions, a soldier was censured for writing a derogatory slur with a marker on the forehead of a crying detainee.

Frago 242

The Guardian reports that a military order called Frago 242 ordered coalition troops not to investigate abuse “unless it directly involves members of the coalition.” Repeat after us: “Frago 242”.

The Hikers

In July 2009 Iran’s national police force in July 2009 cross the border into northern Iraq to apprehend Shane Bauer, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal. Shourd has since been released. Bauer and Fattal remain jailed in Tehran’s Evin prison.

The hikers described themselves as tourists. Tehran contends they are spies…

A drone aircraft was sent to look for the missing Americans, and two F-16s jet fighters were alerted…

The military dispatch ended with an assessment.

“The lack of coordination on the part of these hikers, particularly after being forewarned, indicates an intent to agitate and create publicity regarding international policies on [Iran].”

Iran

In Dec. 22, 2006, US military officials in Baghdad issued a secret warning: The Shi’ite militia commander who had orchestrated the kidnapping of officials from Iraq’s Ministry of Higher Education was now hatching plans to take US soldiers hostage.

What made the warning especially worrying were intelligence reports saying that the Iraqi militant, Azhar al-Dulaimi, had been trained by the Middle East’s masters of the dark arts of paramilitary operations: the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in Iran and Hezbollah, its Lebanese ally.

“Dulaymi reportedly obtained his training from Hizballah operatives near Qum, Iran, who were under the supervision of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF) officers in July 2006,’’ the report noted, using alternative spellings. Five months later, Dulaimi was killed in a US raid in the Shi’ite enclave of Sadr City in Baghdad, but not before four US soldiers had been abducted from an Iraqi headquarters in Karbala and killed in an operation that US officials say bore Dulaimi’s fingerprints.

The Surrender

In one such case, in February 2007, the crew of an Apache helicopter shot and killed two Iraqi men believed to have been firing mortars, even though they made surrendering motions, because, according to a military lawyer cited in the report, “they cannot surrender to aircraft, and are still valid targets”…

The Checkpoint:

Checkpoints could also be hazardous. At one Marine checkpoint, sunlight glare on a windshield prevented a female driver from seeing Marines signaling for her to stop. The mother was killed, and her three daughters and husband were wounded. Without interpreters, the Marines were unable to speak to the survivors…

The Brutality:

Americans suspected Iraqi army officers of cutting off a detainee’s fingers and burning him with acid. In two other cases, bound detainees were executed. And while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, “most seemed to have been ignored, with the equivalent of an institutional shrug: soldiers told their officers and asked the Iraqis to investigate,” the Times said.
In other cases, Americans intervened. In August 2006, for example, an American sergeant in Ramadi heard whipping noises in a military police station and walked in on an Iraqi lieutenant using an electrical cable to slash the bottom of a detainee’s feet. The American stopped him, but later he found the same Iraqi officer whipping a detainee’s back.

One beaten detainee said in 2005 that “when the Marines finally took him, he was treated very well, and he was thankful and happy to see them.” – Politics Daily

China Wikileaks

Attempts to create a “Chinese WikiLeaks” project could result in lengthy jail sentences for internet users who send sensitive materials, critics warned today.

So says the Guardian. What will happen to Assange – already smeared in a ludicrous rape story – is unclear…



Posted: 23rd, October 2010 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink