Leaked Iraq War Files Detail Torture, Civilian Deaths

Published on October 23, 2010   ·   No Comments

Founder of whistleblowing website, 'WikiLeaks', Julian AssangeFounder of whistleblowing website, ‘WikiLeaks’, Julian Assange

October 23, 2010
By RFE/RL
Whistleblowing website WikiLeaks website has released what it claims are nearly 400,000 classified U.S. files on the Iraq war, in the biggest security breach of its kind in U.S. military history.

The documents, released late on October 22 and presented today at a news conference, detail cases of prisoner abuse and torture by Iraqi forces that the U.S. military knew about but allegedly chose to ignore.

The files also cite instances of rape and murder, including a videotaped execution of a detainee by Iraqi soldiers.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said the documents, which span as much as six years of war between 2004 to 2010, showed evidence of war crimes.

Speaking at a news conference in London today, Assange said WikiLeaks’ disclosure of the documents aimed to show the truth about the Iraqi conflict.

He said the files documented some 15,000 “never previously documented or known cases of civilians who have been killed by violence in Iraq.”

U.S. Responds

Although their authenticity has yet to be proven, the files have had a bombshell effect.

U.S. officials were quick to denounce their disclosure.

The Pentagon dismissed the files as “ground-level” field reports that brought no real surprises, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the reports were dangerous to people in Iraq.

“We should condemn in the most clear terms the disclosure of any classified information by individuals and organizations, which puts the lives of United States and partner service members and civilians at risk.”

But WikiLeaks firmly defended the documents’ publication, saying they were published in a censored form and contained no information that could harm anyone.

John Sloboda, co-founder of Iraq Body Count — a rights group that helped prepare the documents — told reporters, “The victims of this war, their families, and the public, whose taxes funded this war, deserve better than this. There is a public right to know.”

Assange added that he hoped the files would have the “maximum political impact possible.”

The Iraq conflict has faded from U.S. public debate in recent years in favor of the war in Afghanistan, and the leaked documents could revive discussions on abuse committed in Iraq.

Assange said the documents provided enough material for dozens of lawsuits of wrongful killing.

Reacting the documents’ release, Amnesty International said U.S. authorities may have broken international law by handing over detainees to Iraqi forces known to be committing abuses “on a truly shocking scale.”

The release of the Iraqi war logs comes just months after WikiLeaks published more than 70,000 classified documents about the war in Afghanistan.

written by Claire Bigg with agency reports

http://www.rferl.org/content/WikiLeaks_Released_Classified_US_Defense_Documents/2198893.html

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