Iraq war logs: secret files show how US ignored torture
• Massive leak reveals serial detainee abuse
• 15,000 unknown civilian deaths in war
• Full coverage of the Iraq war logs
A grim picture of the US and Britain’s legacy in Iraq has been revealed in a massive leak of American military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
Almost 400,000 secret US army field reports have been passed to the Guardian and a number of other international media organisations via the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.
The electronic archive is believed to emanate from the same dissident US army intelligence analyst who earlier this year is alleged to have leaked a smaller tranche of 90,000 logs chronicling bloody encounters and civilian killings in the Afghan war.
The new logs detail how:
• US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.
• A US helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
• More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.
The numerous reports of detainee abuse, often supported by medical evidence, describe prisoners shackled, blindfolded and hung by wrists or ankles, and subjected to whipping, punching, kicking or electric shocks. Six reports end with a detainee’s apparent death.
As recently as December the Americans were passed a video apparently showing Iraqi army officers executing a prisoner in Tal Afar, northern Iraq. The log states: “The footage shows approximately 12 Iraqi army soldiers. Ten IA 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.”
Senate OKs defense bill, 68-29
By Roxana Tiron 10/22/09 04:20 PM ET
The Senate on Thursday sent the massive 2010 Pentagon policy bill to the president’s desk for signing. The Senate approved the bill authorizing $680 billion in defense spending by a vote of 68-29.
For the first time in a decade-long effort, the bill will include a provision that expands the federal hate-crimes law to cover offenses based on sexual orientation. The provision received a boost from the Democratic majority in Congress and has President Barack Obama’s backing. Democrats view the successful passage of hate-crimes legislation as a tribute to the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), the champion of expanding the law.
The 2010 defense authorization bill also continues to fund an alternate engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Obama administration initially threatened to veto the bill if authorized funds for a second engine would seriously disrupt the overall F-35 program.
But Obama is not expected to veto the defense authorization bill. He won a big victory on it: The Senate voted to stop production of the F-22 fighter jet at 187 planes. The Senate vote had ripple effects through conference with the House authorizers and prompted defense appropriators to also scrap any plans for funding additional planes.
While Obama is not likely to veto the policy bill, he has yet to take a definitive stance over the 2010 defense appropriations bill. Senate and House appropriators are still negotiating the conference report and several lawmakers, including Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee chairman, have indicated that funding for an alternate engine is likely to be in the bill.
The $680 billion defense policy bill also authorizes $130 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq for fiscal year 2010, which started Oct. 1. This story was updated at 5:20 p.m.
June 19 2004
You don’t get to sneer about how the evidence was there.
You don’t get to scoff about how even Bill Clinton, Germany and France thought there were WMD’s.
You don’t get to shriek about media-elite liberals just Bush-hating, conspiracy theorists whining about Halliburton, and Saddam gassing his own people:
…Not when our leaders were so fully unprepared for this war that there was no legitimate flank or rear security support for the thousands of vehicles, many endlessly breaking down, in that convoy that stretched across the Iraqi desert at the beginning of the war.
…Not when they couldn’t even bribe Turkey into letting us enter Iraq from the north.
…Not when there weren’t enough MRE’s, tanks that would work in the sand and flack-jackets for our troops .
…Not when our Marines suddenly became gendarmes on the streets of Baghdad while we completely disbanded both the Iraqi army and police and the country was being destroyed from the bottom up as the looters demolished everything that the precision guided bombs did not.
…Not when Republican Senators Richard Shelby, Chuck Hagel and Dick Lugar had been screaming about the need for a plan post-war Iraq and what to do about the Shiites/Sunnis/Kurds on The News Hour and Charlie Rose virtually every night for the twelve months leading up to the start of the attack.
…Not when there was no budget for the war, funding was asked for on the eve of the initial strike and there have been no plans to pay for the ever-increasing cost.
…Not when Deputy Secretary Of Defense Paul Wolfowitz is asked to give the number of Americans killed in Iraq during a congressional commitee on April 29 2004 and he’s off by over two hundred soldiers.
…Not when they won’t let us see the bodies at Dover and undercount casualties received in combat by the thousands.
Now bugger off and prepare for the trials.
©2004 THE LOS ANGELES SUN
Civilian contractors working for the Pentagon in Afghanistan not only outnumber the uniformed troops, according to a report by a Congressional research group, but also form the highest ratio of contractors to military personnel recorded in any war in the history of the United States.
On a superficial level, the shift means that most of those representing the United States in the war will be wearing the scruffy cargo pants, polo shirts, baseball caps and other casual accouterments favored by overseas contractors rather than the fatigues and flight suits of the military.
More fundamentally, the contractors who are a majority of the force in what has become the most important American enterprise abroad are subject to lines of authority that are less clear-cut than they are for their military colleagues.
What is clear, the report says, is that when contractors for the Pentagon or other agencies are not properly managed — as when civilian interrogators committed abuses at Abu Ghraib in Iraq or members of the security firm Blackwater shot and killed 17 Iraqi citizens in Baghdad — the American effort can be severely undermined.
As of March this year, contractors made up 57 percent of the Pentagon’s force in Afghanistan, and if the figure is averaged over the past two years, it is 65 percent, according to the report by the Congressional Research Service.
The contractors — many of them Afghans — handle a variety of jobs, including cooking for the troops, serving as interpreters and even providing security, the report says.
The report says the reliance on contractors has grown steadily, with just a small percentage of contractors serving the Pentagon in World War I, but then growing to nearly a third of the total force in the Korean War and about half in the Balkans and Iraq. The change, the report says, has gradually forced the American military to adapt to a far less regimented and, in many ways, less accountable force.
The growing dependence on contractors is partly because the military has lost some of its logistics and support capacity, especially since the end of the cold war, according to the report. Some of the contractors have skills in critical areas like languages and digital technologies that the military needs.
The issue of the role of contractors in war has been a subject of renewed debate in Washington in recent weeks with disclosures that the Central Intelligence Agency used the company formerly known as Blackwater to help with a covert program, now canceled, to assassinate leaders of Al Qaeda. Lawmakers have demanded to know why such work was outsourced.
The State Department also uses contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, although both the department and the C.I.A. have said they want to reduce their dependence on outside workers.
Responding to the Congressional research report, Frederick D. Barton, a senior adviser to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said it was highly questionable whether contractors brought the same commitment and willingness to take risks as the men and women of the military or the diplomatic services.
He also questioned whether using contractors was cost effective, saying that no one really knew whether having a force made up mainly of contractors whose salaries were often triple or quadruple those of a corresponding soldier or Marine was cheaper or more expensive for the American taxpayer.
With contractors focused on preserving profits and filing paperwork with government auditors, he said, “you grow the part of government that, probably, the taxpayers appreciate least.”
Congress appropriated at least $106 billion for Pentagon contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2003 through the first half of the 2008 fiscal year, the report says.
The report said the combined forces in Iraq and Afghanistan still had more uniformed military personnel than contractors over all: 242,657 contractors and about 282,000 troops as of March 31
We are the most powerful nation in the world. There is no excuse, only corruption.