Leak of classified reports largest in US history

On Oct. 23, Wikileaks released almost 400,000 classified U.S. military logs that suggested that U.S. commanders ignored evidence of torture by the Iraqi authorities, according to BBC news. It is the largest leak of classified intelligence in United States history.

The classified logs reveal that hundreds of civilians have been killed at U.S. military checkpoints since the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

In addition, these logs show that the United States had withheld records of civilian deaths from the public, despite previously denying it. The death toll was put at 109,000, of whom 66,081 were civilians, according to the BBC.

Wikileaks, the international anti-secrecy group, serves as a conduit of classified information and has posted over one million secret Iraq and Afghanistan war files since July, according to the Associated Press (AP).

According to The New York Times a close analysis of the 391,832 documents indicate that:

– The war in Iraq initiated a reliance on private contractors.

– An outsourcing of combat and other militant duties has increased to the point that there are more contractors in Afghanistan than soldiers.

– The surge worked, not only because the American military committed to more troops but because Iraqis themselves, exhausted by years of bloody war, were ready for it.

– The number of deaths of Iraqi civilians at the hands of Iraqi soldiers and the American military were far greater than the numbers made public by the United States during the Bush administration.

– Abuse and brutality inflicted on prisoners by America’s Iraqi allies was documented to be as inhumane and shocking as the abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison, and sometimes worse.

– Iran’s military has intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants, offering them weapons, training, and sanctuary, and in a few instances directly engaging American troops.

Staff Sergeant Jeffery Jarvis of the United States Army Reserves and a Guilford sophomore, who has spent time on the front lines in Iraq, expressed his opinion that Wikileaks release of classified documents is a Pandora’s Box of wrongness.

“Suspected Wikileaks source Bradley Manning is incarcerated and viciously persecuted for exposing the truth about civilian deaths, premeditated murder, and torture in Iraq, while his commanders who gave the orders were awarded with medals,” said Jarvis.

Manning was charged with leaking a classified video of a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuter’s journalists.

Jarvis told The Guilfordian that he thinks there could be endless war and occupation in Iraq, until the day that we realize that we cannot incite change immediately, but he feels that the seeds we have sown will sprout from thoughts to deeds and grow closer to an ideal.

“Those ideals will have to continue long after the U.S. is gone,” Jarvis said. “Soldiers who stand up for international law, human rights, and expose the truth should not languish in jail for someone else’s crimes against humanity in Iraq. War is war; such things should be expected and people who expect otherwise are naive. Bradley Manning should not have divulged information.”

According to the Associated Press, Wikileaks is also believed to have possession of another 15,000 Afghan war field reports, 260,000 diplomatic cables, and U.S. video of casualties in Afghanistan.

Patrick Cockburn, a correspondent in the Middle East, said the leaks are important because they prove much of what was previously only suspected but never admitted by the U.S. army or explained in detail.

“It was obvious from 2004 that U.S. forces almost always ignored cases of torture by Iraqi government forces, but this is now shown to have been official policy,” said Cockburn. “Of particular interest to Iraqis, when Wikileaks releases the rest of its hoard of documents, will be to see if there is any sign of how far U.S. forces were involved in death squad activities from 2004.”

Noam Chomsky, M.I.T. professor emeritus of linguistics, told The Guilfordian by e-mail that he agreed with Cockburn’s assessment on Wikileaks release of the logs.

“My take is about the same,” said Chomsky.

Others, like Jeremy Scahill of The Nation Magazine, think Wikileaks was correct to leak classified information.

“The documents provide concrete evidence of widespread U.S. killings of Afghan civilians and attempts to cover up killings,” said Scahill. “They portray unaccountable Special Operations forces as roaming the country hunting people — literally. They describe incidents of mass out-rage sparked by the killing of civilians and confirm that the United States is funding both sides of the war through bribes paid to the Taliban and other resistance forces.”