Leaked documents expose U.S. atrocities in Iraq
Published Oct 27, 2010 8:09 PM
A prisoner was kneeling on the ground, blindfolded and handcuffed, when an
Iraqi soldier kicked him in the neck. A U.S. marine sergeant was watching and
reported the incident, which was duly recorded and deemed “valid.”
The outcome: “No investigation required.”
This is only one incident covered in the almost 400,000 leaked secret war
documents published by WikiLeaks on Oct. 22. Here, U.S. Army soldiers report on
the U.S.-led war and occupation in Iraq. (www.Wikileaks.org)
The scope and scale of the atrocities revealed in the reports are stunning.
They reveal the plight of hundreds of entirely helpless victims — bound,
gagged, blindfolded and isolated. Men in uniforms using wire cables, metal
rods, rubber hoses, wooden stakes, TV antennae, plastic water pipes, engine fan
belts or chains are whipping them.
At the torturers’ whims, the logs reveal, the victim can be hung by his
wrists or ankles; knotted up in stress positions; sexually molested or raped;
tormented with hot peppers, cigarettes, acid, pliers or boiling water —
and always with little fear of retribution since, in most cases the
perpetrators have the tacit, if not active approval, of the U.S. high
Most of the victims are young men, but logs also record serious sexual and
other assaults on women; on young people, including a boy of 16 who was hung
from the ceiling and beaten; and on the elderly and vulnerable, including a
disabled man whose injured leg was deliberately attacked.
The logs identify perpetrators from many geographical areas and sectors of the
war effort. The atrocities are not limited to Iraqi puppet troops. The
documents reveal many previously unreported killings of civilians by private
contractors such as Blackwater, as well as massacres of civilians by uniformed
U.S. troops. One Apache helicopter crew, which had been exposed in a leaked
video showing them massacring civilians on the ground, was revealed to have
earlier killed insurgents who were surrendering. U.S. military authorities had
given clearance for the murders.
The logs reveal numerous claims of U.S. troop assaults on detainees,
particularly by marines. A woman reports being pulled by her hair and kicked in
the face; she displays injuries that confirm her story. A former detainee
claims a U.S. soldier kicked his legs and punched his chest and arms; the man
has multiple contusions and abrasions all over his body.
On several occasions, U.S. soldiers reported on their colleagues. One describes
a fellow soldier choking a detainee before pointing an unloaded shotgun at his
belly and pulling the trigger.
License to torture and kill
Many of the corporate media have attempted to shift the blame for the
systematic torture and civilian killings to the Iraqi security forces, and away
from the U.S.-led war coalition forces.
How could they miss all the references to Frago 242 which appear in hundreds of
the documents? A frago is a “fragmentary order” which summarizes a
complex requirement. Issued in June 2004, one year after the invasion of Iraq,
Frago 242 orders coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of
armed conflict, such as the abuse of detainees, unless it directly involves
coalition members. Where the alleged abuse is committed by Iraqi on Iraqi,
“only an initial report will be made ... No further investigation will be
required unless directed by HQ.” (Wikileaks.org, Oct. 22)
This document clarifies that U.S. forces are being directed to ignore the
torture of civilians by the Iraqis. However, U.S. involvement doesn’t
James Steele is a U.S. counterinsurgency “expert” with a record
going back to the war in El Salvador. Peter Maas wrote in the New York Times,
that General David Petraeus, the commander in chief of U.S. forces in Iraq,
refers to Steele as “the man” with an “entre to
everything” going on in Iraq. (Guardian, Oct. 23)
Steele had a working relationship with the Iraqi elite Interior Ministry
Commandos, nicknamed the “Wolf Brigade” because of its fearsome
reputation. The WikiLeaks documents report that prisoners in U.S. custody were
often threatened with being sent to the Wolf Brigade if they didn’t
In 2007, Peter Maas accompanied James Steele to witness an
“interview” conducted by the Wolf Brigade where torture was openly
being carried out on civilians. “There was blood running down the side of
the desk ... I could hear horrible screams. ...”
U.S. imperialism has many heinous war crimes to answer for, including those
being carried out in its war and occupation of Iraq.
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