Saturday 23 October 2010

400,000 secret war documents released

WikiLeaks have released the largest classified military leak in history.

The 391,832 reports, known as The Iraq War Logs, document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 2004 to the end of 2009 as told by soldiers in the US Army, detailing 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.

Wikileak's founder, Townsville-born Julian Assange, says the documents give a blow-by-blow account of the Iraq bloodbath.

"These documents reveal six years of the Iraq war at a ground level detail - the troops on the ground, their reports, what they were seeing, what they were saying and what they were doing," Julian Assange said.

In an interview on Al Jazeera TV today, he says there's evidence of war crimes.

"We can also see from the Iraqi military, the torture of over a 1,000 people, and the lack of intervention by the United States."

The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 civilians; 23,984 enemy insurgents; 15,196 Iraqi forces and 3,771 coalition forces. 60% of the deaths (66,000) are civilians. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. In 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 equivalent population size.

This average does not include the slain working in the Iraqi security services or those claimed by US soldiers to be 'insurgents'. When these are added in, almost 50 Iraqis died on average in every single day reported by the logs.

Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971, famously leaked the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret Pentagon study about the Vietnam War, will fly to London on Sunday, to support Julian Assange at the media conference.

Here's more from WikiLeaks about the 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. Prior to the release of the Iraq War Logs, WikiLeaks undertook the arduous task of redacting any piece of information contained that might lead to the identification of any innocent Iraqi.

    We have performed this process by beginning with redacting everything and then deciding what is safe to put back in. We therefore apologise if you find that there is far too much redacted in these logs at the current stage. We hope to raise the capital necessary to continue this process and enable more of the data to be un-redacted. The Pentagon refused to assist this process, stating that it was not interested in 'harm minimization', only complete destruction of the record. WikiLeaks has brought together a number of collaborators to go through this vast wealth of previously classified material:

    Analysis by the independent NGO, Iraq Body Count (IBC) suggests the Logs contain 15,000 civilian deaths that have not been previously discovered outside the pentagon. Most of the newly revealed deaths in the Logs occurred in previously unreported violent incidents involving the deaths of one or two people. They include targeted assassinations, drive-by-shootings, torture, executions, and checkpoint killings. Public Interest Lawyers are presently acting in four judicial review cases which arise from details discovered in the Iraq War Logs.
    Two of these are ongoing and two are being developed to the pre-action letter stage. The cases will be detailed at a release press conference in London on Saturday 23rd October.

    WikiLeaks have also structured collaborations with a number of other media organisations to ensure that as much of the information contained within these logs is brought into the public domain from the moment of the War Logs release.
23-year-old United States Army soldier Bradley Manning leaked the Afghan war documents earlier this year. He was arrested and charged with "unauthorized use and disclosure of US classified information." Manning also famously leaked Collateral Murder in 2007, a shocking video of a Baghdad airstrike. It's compelling viewing. Here's that video...

WikiLeaks has been acknowledged with the 2008 Economist Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression award, and the 2009 Amnesty International human rights reporting award (New Media).

Here's an interview with Daniel Ellsberg (Part 2 is here.):

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