Xinhua News & ABC News – 2011-04-11 00:49:04
63 Percent of People Killed in Iraq War Were Civilians: Report
BEIJING (April 10, 2011) — US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been causing huge civilian casualties with 63 percent of some 109,000 people killed in the Iraq war being civilians, according to a report on the US human rights record released on Sunday.
The figures were quoted from a WikiLeaks trove by the Human Rights Record of the United States in 2010, which was released by the Information Office of China’s State Council in response to the country reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 issued by the US Department of State.
Figures from the WikiLeaks website also revealed up to 285,000 war casualties in Iraq from March 2003 through the end of 2009, according to the report.
“The US military actions in Afghanistan and other regions have also brought tremendous casualties to local people,” said the report.
The report cited the notorious case on a “kill team” formed by five soldiers from the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division of the US forces in Afghanistan. The team had committed at least three murders, where they randomly targeted and killed Afghan civilians, and dismembered the corpses and hoarded the human bones.
In addition, the US-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization troops had caused 535 Afghan civilian deaths and injuries in 2009. Among them 113 civilians were shot and killed, an increase of 43 percent over 2008, the report quoted McClatchy Newspapers as saying.
WikiLeaks: At Least 109,000
Killed During Iraq War
Nearly 400,000 Military Documents Reportedly Contain Details on Iraqi Torture, US Misdeeds
Russell Goldman and Luis Martines / ABC News
NEW YORK (October 22, 2010) — The whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks today released a trove of classified reports that it said documented at least 109,000 deaths in the Iraq war, more than the United States previously has acknowledged, as well as what it described as cases of torture and other abuses by Iraqi and coalition forces.
“The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians’; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces),” WikiLeaks said in a statement regarding the documents’ release. “The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60 percent) of these are civilian deaths. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six-year period.”
The new documents covered 2004 through 2009, WikiLeaks said, with the exception of May 2004 and March 2009.
A review of the documents by Iraq Body Count, an advocacy group that long has monitored civilian casualties in the war, found 15,000 previously unknown civilian deaths, according to WikiLeaks — a detail first reported in The Guardian newspaper, one of a handful of international news organizations that got an advance look at the documents.
The US military long has maintained that it does not keep an official death tally, but earlier this month following a Freedom of Information Act request, the Pentagon said some 77,000 Iraqis had been killed from 2004 to mid-2008 — a shorter period than that covered by WikiLeaks.
Besides the different time periods, the New York Times, which also saw the WikiLeaks documents early, noted that “some deaths are reported more than once, and some reports have inconsistent casualty figures.”
Al Jazeera, which also got an advance look at the documents, reported a total of 285,000 war casualties on its Arabic-language website, a number that included both dead and wounded. It also reported that the documents said 681 Iraqi civilians were killed at US checkpoints, 180,000 Iraqis were arrested during the war and 15,000 Iraqis were buried without being identified.
The massive leak of 391,832 documents at 5 p.m. ET today, which WikiLeaks billed as “the largest classified military leak in history,” followed WikiLeaks’ similar but smaller release on the war in Afghanistan.
The new release was anticipated by the Pentagon, which has warned that publicizing the information could endanger US troops.
“We strongly condemn the unauthorized disclosure of classified information,” said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell prior to the documents becoming public.
Morrell said the documents “expose secret information that could make our troops even more vulnerable to attack in the future. Just as with the leaked Afghan documents, we know our enemies will mine this information looking for insights into how we operate, cultivate sources and react in combat situations, even the capability of our equipment. This security breach could very well get our troops and those they are fighting with killed.”
Amid such criticism, WikiLeaks said this time it “undertook the arduous task of redacting any piece of information contained that might lead to the identification of any innocent Iraqi.”
The Pentagon said the documents it expected would be released include tactical reports from late 2003 to 2010 containing brief unit-level observations of what those units saw on a daily basis.
Those documents included descriptions of attacks on Iraqi security forces and US forces, detainee abuse, civilian casualty incidents, IED blasts, discussions with Iraqis and inquiries into socio-political relations, according to Department of Defense spokesman Col. David Lapan.
Sources that saw the WikiLeaks documents in advance reported no major revelations, but said taken together they could be read as a secret history of the war written from a troop’s-eye-view of the conflict.
WikiLeaks collectively referred to the trove as “The Iraq War Logs” and seemed to suggest they did contain revelations.
“There are reports of civilians being indiscriminately killed at checkpoints, such as speeding to get a pregnant woman to hospital; of Iraqi detainees being tortured by coalition forces; and of US soldiers blowing up entire civilian buildings because of one suspected insurgent on the roof,” WikiLeaks said in its statement.
“There are over 300 recorded reports of coalition forces committing torture and abuse of detainees across 284 reports and over 1,000 cases of Iraqi security forces committing similar crimes,” WikiLeaks added. “There are numerous cases of what appear to be clear war crimes by US forces, such as the deliberate killing of persons trying to surrender.”
The documents also included evidence of state-sanctioned torture by the Iraqi government, new evidence of Iraqi government death squads, and Iran’s involvement in funneling arms to Shiite militias, according to the international news outlets that reviewed them before their release.
ABC News did not begin to review the nearly 400,000 documents firsthand until after their release this evening.
As the details on the documents emerged, the main WikiLeaks site was down for “scheduled maintenance,” but the 400,000 documents later could be searched by categories on a specially created Wikileaks page.
WikiLeaks said it would hold a press conference Saturday morning in Europe to elaborate on the documents.
WikiLeaks’ release comes at a critical time, as US troops begin a staged withdrawal from Iraq. All 50,000 remaining US troops in the country are expected to leave by the end of next year.
As occurred with the Afghanistan documents, the Iraqi war documents were initially thought likely to contain the names of Iraqis who cooperated with US forces — though it was not immediately clear if such names survived WikiLeaks redaction effort.
In July, WikiLeaks published a raft of secret documents from Afghanistan that the website obtained from a single rogue soldier, Army Spc. Bradley Manning, who had access to secret intelligence contained on military computers.
Among the documents Manning leaked was a classified video showing an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed civilians and two Reuters news photographers. Manning is currently in a military brig near Washington, D.C., awaiting a court martial.
The Afghanistan documents contained the names of locals who cooperated with US forces, and it was expected the Iraqi war documents likely would contain such names, as well.
The Pentagon has continued to express concerns about WikiLeaks releasing unredacted information containing such names because of the potential harm the individuals might face from insurgents.
“Our concern is mostly with the threat to individuals, the threat to our people and our equipment,” said Lapan.
After WikiLeaks released 70,000 documents in July relating to the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon quickly set up a 120-person task force to review the documents for potential damage. Lapan has said that in anticipation of a release of Iraq War documents, that same task force has spent the past few weeks reviewing a database of 400,000 “significant acts” from the war in Iraq.
Lapan said the task force looked for names of Iraqi individuals that might be included in the documents and passed this information to US Central Command Centcom, which presumably would pass them on to US forces in Iraq.
Despite the military’s concerns that individuals would be threatened following the publication of the Afghan documents in July, the Pentagon said no such cases had been recorded.
“I don’t have any information that from the first 77,000 documents that any individuals were killed. But then again I don’t think we have perfect knowledge either,” Lapan said.
The investigation into the leaked Afghan war documents has focused on Manning, who worked as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq. He is now under military detention in the Washington, D.C., area under charges that he a classified video showing an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed civilians and two Reuters news photographers.
The Pentagon has slammed WikiLeaks for its actions.
“We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
“We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large.
“By disclosing such sensitive information, WikiLeaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us. The only responsible course of action for WikiLeaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their websites as soon as possible.”
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