Photo: Fallujah, 2003, by Christan Peacemaker Teams
Last week, the whistleblower website Wikileaks released nearly 400,000 previously secret US military field reports from Iraq, dated from 2004 to early 2010. Reporters at the UK-based Guardian and the German Der Spiegel are only beginning to sift through the mountainous files, but already a disturbing picture has emerged of torture, deception and a much larger civilian death toll than the US government previously admitted.
Some of the chilling details:
- ** US commanders ordered troops to ignore reports of torture by Iraqi security forces, and knowingly turned captives over to torture squads;
- ** Despite Gen. Tommy Franks' insistence that "we don't do body counts," the Pentagon in fact cataloged at least 100,000 violent deaths of Iraqis between 2004 and 2009, including 66,000 civilians;
- ** Apache helicopter pilots killed insurgents they knew were trying to surrender;
- ** Frightened and trigger-happy US troops routinely gunned down civilians at checkpoints, and deaths and injury by "friendly fire" were far more common than reported.
But the US media have been largely quiet about the details of the documents, preferring to regurgitate the Pentagon's Orwellian claim that Wikileaks, and not the US military, has "blood on its hands." The Obama Administration, led by a man who once campaigned on an anti-war and transparency platform, has likewise attacked the messenger, calling for prosecution not of US war criminals but of Wikileaks volunteers and brave whistleblowers within the military. Already in May of this year, military police arrested 23-year old Private Bradley Manning for allegedly leaking secret military data. Commanders who okayed torture walk freely, but Pvt. Manning faces 52 years in prison for exposing their crimes.
What you can do:
- Read the war logs. You can check out wikileaks.org or read synopses as they become available at the Guardian or Der Spiegel.
- Support Bradley Manning. Sign the online petition and make a donation to his legal defense at bradleymanning.org.
- Get organizing! The times demand a people's movement for accountability and an end to the bloody wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. NAWC's next monthly meeting is November 7, 2pm at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Duluth (835 W College). All are welcome.