Leaks reveal stunning details about civilian toll in Iraq
At 5pm EST Friday 22nd October 2010 WikiLeaks released the largest classified military leak in history. The 391,832 reports ('The Iraq War Logs'), document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1st January 2004 to 31st December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a 'SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout.
The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 'civilians'; 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the 'Afghan War Diaries', previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivallent population size.
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Video: Leaks reveal stunning details about civilian toll in Iraq
Secret files shed light on ugliness of Iraq war
NYT: Documents released by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks detail deaths of Iraqi civilians, abuse of prisoners by American forces
A huge trove of secret field reports from the battlegrounds of Iraq sheds new light on the war, including such fraught subjects as civilian deaths, detainee abuse and the involvement of Iran.
The secret archive is the second such cache obtained by the independent organization WikiLeaks and made available to several news organizations. Like the first release, some 92,000 reports covering six years of the war in Afghanistan, the Iraq documents provide no earthshaking revelations, but they offer insight, texture and context from the people actually fighting the war.
A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war:
The Iraqi documents were made available to The Times, the British newspaper The Guardian, the French newspaper Le Monde and the German magazine Der Spiegel on the condition that they be embargoed until now. WikiLeaks has never stated where it obtained the information, although an American Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, has been arrested and accused of being a source of classified material.
As it did with the Afghan war logs, The Times has redacted or withheld any documents that would put lives in danger or jeopardize continuing military operations. Names of Iraqi informants, for example, have not been disclosed. WikiLeaks said that it has also employed teams of editors to scrub the material for posting on its Web site.
WikiLeaks has been under strong pressure from the United States and the governments of other countries but is also fraying internally, in part because of a decision to post many of the Afghan documents without removing the names of informants, putting their lives in danger. A profile of WikiLeaks’s contentious founder, Julian Assange, will appear in Sunday’s newspaper.
The New York Times told the Pentagon which specific documents it planned to post and showed how they had been redacted. The Pentagon said it would have preferred that The Times not publish any classified materials but did not propose any cuts. Geoff Morrell, the Defense Department press secretary, strongly condemned both WikiLeaks and the release of the Iraq documents.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
News organizations look at leak with different eyes
Times handles WikiLeaks disclosures more cautiously than Guardian, Al-Jazeera
…The Defense Department told NBC News that it didn't dispute the accuracy of the material released by WikiLeaks, which documented U.S. military officials' allegations of rape, torture and abuse by Iraqi soldiers and police, which U.S. commanders didn't investigate.
Because of the sheer mass of data dumped on the world — nearly 400,000 secret U.S. military field reports — and perhaps reflecting their differing stances toward the U.S. military operation, the privileged news organizations that published Friday approached the material from markedly different perspectives.
All of them reported the key points in the documents: that the United States has kept a running total of civilian deaths in Iraq, contrary to its frequent denials, and that the United States took little or no action to address abuse of detainees by Iraqi police and military forces.
The Guardian, Le Monde and Al-Jazeera splashed the more sensational revelations on their home pages under similar headlines skewering Washington for its inaction on Iraq's torture of more than 1,000 people.
- "Secret files reveal how US turned blind eye to Iraq torture," said The Guardian.
- "US turned blind eye to torture," Al-Jazeera said.
- "Iraq: The horror revealed by WikiLeaks," Le Monde said.
The Times' three equally played headlines, by contrast, revealed that "Reports Detail Iran Aid to Iraq Militias," "Civilians Paid War's Heaviest Toll" and "Detainees Suffered in Iraqi Hands." It characterized the U.S. response to allegations of Iraq torture as "brutality from which the Americans at times averted their eyes."
That's more in line with the official Defense Department position. A Pentagon official denied that Washington "ignored" the reports, telling NBC News that it passed along all claims to Iraq authorities and that "whatever they did with that information was up to the Iraqi government."
The Guardian and Le Monde have historically been regarded as liberal newspapers, while Al-Jazeera, a television network based in Qatar, was widely denounced for what critics saw as an anti-U.S. bias after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a characterization it disputes.
The Times, on the other hand, while aggressively reporting on alleged abuses by U.S. and Iraq forces, was accused of funneling CIA talking points bolstering U.S. charges that Iraq was seeking to build weapons of mass destruction in the years after the 2001 attacks.
In general, the three other organizations used much stronger language than The Times did throughout their reports:
- "The story these documents tell is ugly and often shocking," The Guardian said.
- The materials "record horrifying tales" and "throw light on the day-to-day horrors of the war,” Al-Jazeera said.
- "The 'incident reports' show that torture and mistreatment are commonplace in Iraqi detention centers," Le Monde reported.
The Times, by contrast, said the documents "provide no earthshaking revelations," similar to the official position of the Pentagon, which tried to minimize their impact by asserting that they revealed little new. …