Thousands of leaked US military documents have revealed the grisly reality of the murder, torture and abuse of prisoners by US, British and local pro-occupation forces in Iraq.
The Wikileaks website released nearly 400,000 army field reports itemising death and abuse by US military action and the bitter sectarian division the occupation caused.
The reports run from January 2004 to January 2010. They reveal torture carried out by police officers, army personnel, prison staff and border guards.
The majority of victims are young men. But there are also occurrences of abuse towards women—including serious sexual assault—and of attacks on disabled and old people.
The reports show that much of the abuse by Iraqi forces was either witnessed by US soldiers or reported to them.
Batteries with exposed wires and hoses appear often. Prisoners are kicked, beaten, sexually abused and humiliated, burnt with flame and chemicals and put in stress positions.
Despite the widespread evidence of torture, the US government issued order “Frago 242” in June 2004, ordering coalition troops not to investigate any breach of the laws of armed conflict unless it directly involved members of the US’s coalition side.
Where the alleged abuse is committed by an Iraqi towards an Iraqi, “only an initial report will be made… No further investigation will be required unless directed by HQ”.
One example from the log reports film footage showing: “Ten Iraqi army soldiers were talking to one another while two soldiers held the detainee.
“The detainee had his hands bound. The footage shows the IA soldiers moving the detainee into the street, pushing him to the ground, punching him and shooting him.” The logs conclude, “No investigation is necessary.”
In reality, things were no different when abuse was carried out by US or British soldiers—the history of the occupation has been one of cover-up and corruption.
The leaks contain the reports of over 100,000 civilian deaths.
But even this is a gross underestimate. Surveys by ORB and the Lancet estimate that well over a million Iraqis have been killed. The war and occupation have displaced millions more.
Some incidents are documented in forensic detail. For instance the “Crazyhorse 18” Apache helicopter gunship crew were following a truck driven by two men they suspected of carrying explosives.
The men got out of their vehicle to surrender.
The Apache crew radioed base and were told by a lawyer that it was not possible to “surrender to an aircraft”.
The helicopter unleashed missiles killing both men. More civilians were injured.
Another report states how US interrogators threatened to hand detainees over to the Wolf Brigade if they wouldn’t talk.
Iraqi prisoners accused the brigade of torturing prisoners with electric drills and sometimes executing suspects.
It was set up by the US military and directed by Colonel James Steele, who had acted as a US advisor to death squads in El Salvador in the 1980s.
These reports confirm again that the invasion was never about liberating the Iraq, only asserting US power.
Stop the War Coalition conference: 30 October, 10am-5pm in Conway Hall, Red Lion Square WC1R 4RL. Speakers include Tony Benn and Joe Glenton
Troops out of Afghanistan, Time to Go demonstration 20 November Assemble 12 noon, Hyde Park