The Iraqi files

WikiLeaks, a whistle-blowing website, has released 391,832 reports documenting the Iraq war and US occupation from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009. ‘The Iraq War Logs’ have created quite a stir around the world as it has unveiled some very damning facts related to the US military. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange said this “disclosure is about the truth” and “we hope to correct some of that attack on the truth that occurred before the [Iraq] war, during the war, and which has continued on since the war officially concluded”. WikiLeaks had previously released the ‘Afghan War Diary’, a set of over 91,000 leaked US military reports from 2004-2009 that became an embarrassment for the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.

According to the WikiLeaks website, “The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labelled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces).” Over 60 percent of the deaths are those of civilians. Apart from this, the reports reveal that the US authorities chose to ignore hundreds of reports of torture, abuse, rape and murder by the Iraqi security forces. These documents also reveal that hundreds of people, including women and children, were killed at US military checkposts. In Baghdad, a US gunship crew killed Iraqi insurgents despite the fact that they were trying to surrender. The Pentagon has condemned the new leaked reports but the UN has asked the Americans to investigate if US officials knew about the torture and mistreatment of detainees. The UN should be reminded that the notorious Abu Ghraib prison, where US guards mistreated the detainees and even sexually humiliated them, was closed only after stories of such incidents became public.

On the one hand there are reports that the US intends to cut off aid to about a half-dozen Pakistan Army units believed to have killed civilians and unarmed prisoners during anti-Taliban offensives while on the other its own forces are guilty of committing war crimes. Meanwhile, army chief General Kayani has ordered an investigation into the alleged abuse in FATA and Swat but has turned a blind eye to the disappearance, torture and murder of countless Baloch people in Balochistan.

In this age of information revolution, it is ironic that embedded journalism was our only source of information from Iraq. WikiLeaks has done a great service by breaching the wall of silence surrounding the Iraq war.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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