Secret-sharing website Wikileaks just released the largest leak of U.S. military documents ever, and it's like the oposite of Christmas. The 400,000 Iraq war documents details widespread torture by America's Iraqi allies, abuse the U.S. military largely ignored.
As with Wikileaks' Afghanistan War logs, the Iraq documents were handed over beforehand to a number of news outlets around the world. Stories about the leak are now splashed on the homepages of the New York Times, Guardian, Der Spiegel and Al Jazeera. Let's go through the good news and the bad news of this latest exercise in radical transparency:
The Bad News
- According to incident reports, Iraqi soldiers and police allied with the U.S. are really, really terrible to their detainees in ways that make Abu Ghraib look like a celebrity rehab center. In one case, Iraqi soldiers were suspected of "cutting off a detainee's fingers and burning him with acid, according to the Times. Another detainee reported to the U.S. that "he was suspended from the ceiling by his wrists," by Iraqi soldiers. "The soldiers had then whipped him with plastic piping and used electric drills on him," says the Guardian. Other reports include sexual assaults on children and women.
- Guess what happened whenever the U.S. was informed of incidents of torture by Iraqi soldiers? They were "ignored with the equivalent of an institutional shrug," according to the Times. Sometimes they were reported right back to the units that committed the torture in the first place.
- Why were U.S. troops ignoring all this torture? Were they lazy? No: 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"; you're going to hear this a lot!
- The reports reveal 15,000 previously unrecorded civilian casualties, boosting the total number of civilians killed in Iraq to over 66,000 according to Iraq Body Count estimates
- Iran has been deeply involved in funding and training Shiite militias. They " trained, armed and directed death squads," which terrorized Iraq's political class, according to the Guardian.
The Good News
- Well, at least the logs don't show our own troops torturing anyone. The logs document some minor abuse: some complaints from detainees of being kicked or punched, one incident where a soldier wrote "Pussy" on the forehead of a crying Iraqi prisoner.
- That's it. There is literally no other item of good news in the entire 400,000 pages.
Kudos to Wikileaks for getting this out even as it's wracked by internal strife and founder Julian Assange's sex scandal and the denial of his application for Swedish residency. Here's hoping they still had time to redact all the sensitive information in the documents that could put Iraqi civilians at risk.
(You can browse the entire 400,000 pages of incident reports, which cover a time period from January 2004 to December 2009, at Wikileaks. Nice relaxing way to spend the weekend.)
[Image via Getty]