Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Iraq's Secret War Files

 The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

The only TV doc to have advance access to the biggest Wikileaks release ever. This is what really happened during the Iraq war, not what the US PR machine of the time wanted us to believe. The reality behind the civilian death count; al-Qaeda's fictitious presence; torture, torture and more torture. A wall of truth revealing unprecedented levels of unwarranted aggression.

 "The detainee was blindfolded, beaten about the feet and head, electricity was applied to his genitals, and he was sodomized with a water bottle". These secret US military files from 2004-2009 capture 300 acts of torture of Iraqi prisoners; all after the world gasped at images of grinning US soldiers holding naked Iraqis on leashes. Far from winning the hearts and minds of the people, coalition forces have killed so many civilians, that insurgency has sky-rocketed. The air force launches Hellfire missiles at men with their arms raised in surrender, and goat herders digging for roots.

George Bush said, "In the new Iraq there will be no more torture chambers, the tyrant will soon be gone, the day of your liberation is near". But the files show that rather than being the driving force for occupation, Al Qaeda flourished under the alienation bred by coalition troops. A handful of references to Al Qaeda in 2003 rises to 8000 in 2008. Troops manning checkpoints or riding convoy shoot at anything that moves: killing a doctor taking a pregnant woman to hospital, and the parents of a fourteen year old girl who was heard to cry: "Why did they shoot us? We were just going home!". And though the army said they weren't recording the death toll, 69 000 out of the 109 000 deaths recorded in these pages, were civilians.

"The escalation of force, the killing of innocent Iraqis, paints a damning picture of force protection to the exclusion of everything else", comments Bob Dodge, who advised on both the Afghan and Iraq wars. Troops not only tortured Iraqi citizens themselves, but they witnessed almost daily incidents of torture of Iraqis by fellow Iraqis - exactly what George Bush had so valiantly set out to destroy. "They were settling old scores and taking revenge", says a former Head of Police. The result was Iraq-on-Iraq bloodshed on an unprecedented scale. The documents show US troops were instructed not to intervene however bad the levels of human rights abuse they witnessed.

"They have killed my husband and my father - all the men no one remains", says Athra, sifting through the thousands of burnt and disfigured pictures of Iraq's dead. The documentary provides a glimpse of the shattered nation the coalition forces are leaving behind. Seven years after occupation, barely a street corner of Baghdad hasn't been bombed, Al Qaeda is stronger than ever, and around 500 innocents are killed a month. A Senior Iraqi officer exclaims: "this is the democracy you have brought along. You have forced us to live a terrifying nightmare of democracy".

Graphic accounts of torture, civilian killings and Iran's hand in the Iraq war are detailed in hundreds of thousands of US military documents made public on the whistleblower website WikiLeaks.
Across nearly 400,000 pages of secret military field reports spanning five years, the largest military leak in history, a grim picture emerges of years of blood and suffering following the 2003 US invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.

Many of the secret documents, which span from 2004 to 2009, chronicle claims of abuse by Iraqi security forces, while others appear to show that American troops did nothing to stop state-sanctioned torture.

The documents comprise the second such release from the controversial website, which accused the United States of "war crimes" after earlier releasing some 92,000 similar secret military files detailing operations in Afghanistan.

"There are over 300 recorded reports of coalition forces committing torture and abuse of detainees across 284 reports and over 1,000 cases of Iraqi security forces committing similar crimes," WikiLeaks said in a press release.

"There are numerous cases of what appear to be clear war crimes by US forces, such as the deliberate killing of persons trying to surrender," WikiLeaks said.

After WikiLeaks made the files available to the Guardian newspaper, the New York Times, Le Monde and Der Spiegel weeks ago, the website sent a Twitter message to select journalists in a secretive invite that turned out to be a three-hour lock-in preview of the documents just before their publication.

One Iraqi detainee claimed he was "blindfolded and beaten with a wire by Iraqi police on two consecutive nights," near Ramadi in 2008, according to documents seen by AFP.

Another detainee alleged that after being arrested at his home last year and transferred to a military HQ, "his hands were bound behind his back, (he) was placed in a stress position... and the bottoms of his feet were beaten with an object."

WikiLeaks reveals Iraqi torture, deaths

The Guardian newspaper said on its website the leaked documents showed "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."

It added that "more than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents," going on to say that "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."

And the Guardian said the "numerous" reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, "describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks."

It added: "Six reports end with a detainee's apparent death."

The Guardian said WikiLeaks is thought to have obtained the electronic archive from the "same dissident US army intelligence analyst" who leaked 90,000 logs about the war in Afghanistan this year.
Al-Jazeera concluded that major findings included a US military cover-up of Iraqi state-sanc
tioned torture and "hundreds" of civilians deaths at manned American checkpoints after the US-led invasion of 2003.

The Qatar-based satellite broadcaster also said the leaked papers, dating from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009, show the United States kept a death count throughout the war, despite US denials.

On Iran's role in the conflict, the secret US files show Tehran waging a shadow war with US troops in Iraq, with a firefight erupting on the border and Tehran allegedly using militias to kill and kidnap American soldiers.

The documents describe Iran arming and training Iraqi hit squads to carry out attacks on coalition troops and Iraqi government officials, with the elite Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps suspected of playing a crucial role, the Times and the Guardian reported, citing the files.

Attacks backed by Iran persisted after US president Barack Obama took office in January 2009, with no sign that the new leader's more conciliatory tone led to any change in Tehran's support for the militias, the New York Times wrote.

The documents describe accounts from detainees, the diary of a captured militant and the discovery of numerous weapons caches as proof of Iran's designs.

US secretary of state Hillary Clinton condemned "in the most clear terms" the leaks of any documents putting Americans at risk, while the Pentagon warned that releasing secret military documents could endanger US troops and Iraqi civilians.

"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," Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.

He said the documents were "essentially snapshots of events, both tragic and mundane, and do not tell the whole story."


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