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WikiLeaks Releases Iraq War Archive

WikiLeaks, the independent rabble-rousing organization best known for releasing thousands of secret reports from the war in Afghanistan, just offered up its second big archive.

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WikiLeaks, the independent rabble-rousing organization best known for releasing thousands of secret reports from the war in Afghanistan, just offered up its second big archive. The organization released 391,832 documents to the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde and Der Spiegel so that the newspapers and magazine could highlight the most disturbing information for readers–and there is plenty of that to be found.

According to the New York Times, American soldiers killed more civilians than previously reported–a move that made many Iraqis turn against American troops in the area. One document explains, for example, how Marines shot a father and killed a mother and three daughters at a checkpoint because the family kept driving even after the Marines fired a flare. Another describes the killing of an Iraqi interpreter by an American sniper who mistook him for a militant. In total, more than 15,000 civilians were killed in previously unknown incidents, reports the Guardian.

The leaked documents also detail the gruesome treatment of detainees in Iraqi custody. Soldiers reportedly used everything from metal rods and wooden poles to electrical wires and cables to beat prisoners. One particularly disturbing document describes a case where American soldiers stumbled upon 173 prisoners of Iraqi police:

AT 1600C, 2BCT REPORTS, 173 MOI DETAINES BEING HELD AT AN MOI
INTERMNMENT FACILITY NEXT OT THE KARADA DAC HALL. MANY OF THEM BEAR
MARKS OF ABUSE TO INCLUDE CIGARETTE BURNS, BRUISING CONSISTENT WITH
BEATINGS AND OPEN SORES. MANY OF THE DETAINEES ARE COUGHING AND ARE
BEING DESCRIBED AS WALKING WOUNDED. APPROX 95 X DETAINEES WERE BEING
HELD IN 1 X ROOM AND WERE SITTING CROSS-LEGGED WITH BLIND FOLDS, ALL
FACING THE SAME DIRECTION. ACCORDING TO ONE OF THE DETAINEES QUESTIONED
ON SITE, 12 X DETAINEES HAVE DIED OF DISEASE IN RECENT WEEKS.

The reports also detail a much higher involvement by Iran in the Iraq
conflict, with Iraq militias receiving training and supplies from Iran. Many of those militias continued a fight with Americans well after President Barack Obama pushed for then opened a diplomatic dialogue with Iran. (Side note: It’s a good time to be Jon
Stewart, who’s conveniently scheduled to interview President Obama next
week on The Daily Show–wonder what he’ll ask.)

On Sunday, the Times will also reveal information about the war’s outsized reliance on private contractors for duties once given to soldiers. Schwartz can be reached on Twitter or by email.

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About the author

Ariel Schwartz is a Senior Editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine and more

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