Secret field reports filed by the US army and made public on Friday by whistleblower website Wikileaks raised the estimate of the number of civilian deaths in Iraq by at least 15,000 and exposed abuse of prisoners and detainees by Iraqi forces.
Some 400,000 secret reports, whose authenticity has not yet been challenged by authorities, also showed Iran’s brazen support for insurgents fighting US forces in Iraq — to deadly effect.
These war logs — being called the biggest leak in US military history — also showed that the US turned a blind eye to reports of shocking abuse by Iraqi forces that make Abu Ghraib look like a picnic.
“This document leak is four times as large as the Afghan document leak,” US department of defence spokesman Geoff Morrell said. “It gives our enemies that much more to mine, and it puts our forces that much more in danger.” He went on to call it shameful. “So we condemn it, we deplore it,” he said.
But there is bound to have been some relief in the Pentagon, which had set up a task force of over 120 people to prepare for the leaks that had been rumoured to be imminent.
The logs document the war from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009 and are reports filed by US soldiers.
WikiLeaks described each report as ‘SIGACT’ or Significant Action in the war.
“They detail events as seen and heard by 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,” said WikiLeaks.org.
The major revelation is the death toll. The logs contain information on 15,000 civilian deaths not reported earlier, said Iraq Body Count, an independent NGO, after a quick analysis.
The logs report details of 109,032 deaths over the documented period: 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces).
“The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths,” WikiLeaks said, adding, “That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six-year period.”
There are details in the Iraq War logs of brazen abuse of prisoners and detainees by Iraqi forces, which the US was told about but did nothing to stop or investigate.
The Pentagon told the New York Times that by policy now, the US forces will investigate reports of abuse only by its own forces. Accusations against other forces will be passed to them for further action.
And there are then revelations in the logs of Iran’s support for the insurgents. Some of them were reportedly trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.