It’s been pending for some time now. Another release of US war logs. Documents pertaining to the prosecution of an illegal war by the world’s most dangerous rogue state and it’s
axis of evil coalition of the willing.
This morning Al Jazeera broke the “embargo” 30 minutes early to release the first reporting of the documents. Considering how badly the Middle East has been on the receiving end of this colonialist bullsh*t for about ninety years now, I for one am not calling a foul.
Working with the Bureau of Investigative Journalism in London for the past 10 weeks, Al Jazeera has analysed tens of thousands of documents, finding facts the US has kept hidden from public scrutiny.
What has been uncovered often contradicts the official narrative of the conflict. For example, the leaked data shows that the US has been keeping records of Iraqi deaths and injuries throughout the war, despite public statements to the contrary.
The latest cache of files pertains to a period of six years – from January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2009 – and shows that 109,000 people died during this time. Of those, a staggering 66,081 – two-thirds of the total – were civilians.
Trigger warning: It gets worse.
The new material throws light on the day-to-day horrors of the war. The military calls them SIGACTs – significant action reports – ground-level summaries of the events that punctuated the conflict: raids, searches, roadside bombings, arrests, and more. All of them are classified “secret”.
The reports reveal how torture was rampant and how ordinary civilians bore the brunt of the conflict.
The files record horrifying tales: of pregnant women being shot dead at checkpoints, of priests kidnapped and murdered, of Iraqi prison guards using electric drills to force their prisoners to confess.
Equally disturbing is the response of the military to the civilian deaths caused by its troops. Excessive use of force was routinely not investigated and the guilty were rarely brought to book.
Unlike Al Jazeera, the New York Times isn’t moved.
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.
I guess it depends whose relatives are being tortured with electric drills, or what colour their skin is… Or perhaps news outlets who employ residents of the US are not cavalier regarding their own safety? Considering the outrageous attacks made against Assange and others involved in Wikileaks, including attacks on their communications, perhaps the Times is wise to tread carefully.
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.
The Guardian, in contrast, is far more bold.
The new logs detail how:
• 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.
• 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 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. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.
That site also has video footage of horrific acts by US soldiers… To which I will not link here.
It isn’t only the newswire that is burning. Boing Boing, a tech blog, reposted The Guardian’s Google mapping of each death recorded in the released files.
The BBC have been, predictably, more conservative in their reporting. They have preferred to report on the reports and responses from the US establishment. Huge Wikileaks release shows US ‘ignored Iraq torture’. Something of an ambivalent headline there. Who is torturing whom?
The BBC article refers to the information as “suggestion” and it’s news links are to video of Hilary Clinton condemning the leaks, and further suggestion that the leaked information might compromise the safety of US troops in Iraq.
Let’s not forget that Britain have had a vested interest in the Middle East and detrimental interference in its governments since at least the end of the First World War. The London underground bombings in 2005 did not happen in a vaccuum. This perspective offerred by the BBC is simply toeing the military industrial line, perhaps in the hope that simple repetition will subdue any reaction of horror or outrage by the public footing the bill for the ongoing occupation and abuses. Perhaps it’s to try and save face for themselves, by pretending that this is just business as usual?
Sadly, but perhaps also predictably considering their awfully poor journalism of late, the ABC in Australia has chosen to follow the lead of the BBC and News Ltd. in downplaying the releases and distracting from the real issues brought to light by the files.
As of 11.30 this morning, hours after publication overseas, the only reference to the new release was Wikileaks plans to unveil ‘major announcement’ with links to other prior articles condemning “leaks” and the repetition of that now haggard straw man about endangering US military forces. In reality, service persons of the US and other allied nations were put in harm’s way by a lying, greedy, deluded organisation of political and corporate cannibals who don’t give a rats’ about the wellbeing of any other individual, except where emotional manipulation thereof can further their nefarious ends.
At 12 the ABC published Wikileaks reveals Iraqi torture, deaths. The article references those of The Guardian and Al Jazeera, but gives the last word to a Pentagon spokes dweeb and rehashes Clinton’s statements without analysis. Woeful.
If you feel you’re up to it, Wikileaks Iraq War Diaries has the original info, diaries and reports available online.
Just the other night on Larvatus Prodeo there was discussion of the ongoing war in Afghanistan and whether Australia can continue to participate, let alone accept the feeble and pathetic justifications for it offered by our politicians. In lieu of debate or genuine discussion, the Australian public continues to be subject to dreary repetition of the thinnest, most desperate excuses for warmongering.
We were subjected to Tony Abbott’s desperation explaining that people have been killed in Afghanistan, so therefore more people have to be killed, otherwise the relatives of those killed will feel bad… This verbal diarrea is what passes for politics in Australia these days.
In a less Orwellian Australia, SBS and the ABC might spend an hour or two interviewing Tariq Ali and other reputable, respected authorities about the history and impact of this information and the war in general.
In a more mature Australia, politicians and news publishers alike would be reconsidering our commitment to this coalition. Considering that it is now blindingly obvious that Australian troops were sent to both Iraq and Afghanistan on the basis of lies and misrepresentation the current juvenile pretense needs to become a real reassessment of both our policy and alliances.
We can’t sit by while our troops are actively supporting this violation of international law and the Geneva convention. Write to Senators in your State and your Federal MP. Do it now.