The good people at Wikileaks with the help of the Iceland as a safe haven from which to operate, they have provided the media and through them the public with massive amounts of information about the day to day operation of the US and its allies in Afghanistan and Iraq. We can only hope leaks like these are provided for every conflict zone around the world.
Nobody can say they are unaware of the abuses and horrors inflicted on civilians by the military might of the USA and its allied forces. This is the reality of war, once removed by the reports, twice removed by the press and a third time removed by our circumstances in a relatively much safer environment where we are reading these reports.
I have never been in a war zone. The closest I have been has been Northern Ireland in the early 70’s during ‘the troubles’, in LA for the 92 riots, and at numerous anti war demonstrations where the cops got out of hand, started clubbing people and lobbing tear gas. So I cannot claim to have personal experience of Iraq or Afghanistan. As a middle aged disabled person I doubt if I will make it to a war zone unless one erupts underneath my feet. I was someone who barely missed the Vietnam draft, it ended the year I was up for it.
As things are I am opposed to the US military interventions in both Iraq, a totally illegitimate war, and Afghanistan, a totally senseless war. I cannot think of an occasion when the US intervened, except perhaps in Bosnia (a very tentative perhaps), where the US was on the side of the good guys, if there can be a good guy in any war other than a war of liberation.
From the Guardian.UK
Iraq war logs: UN calls on Obama to investigate human rights abuses
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 23 October 2010 13.41 BST
by David Batty and Jamie Doward
• Demand follows massive leak of military documents
The UN has called on Barack Obama to order a full investigation of US forces’ involvement in human rights abuses in Iraq after a massive leak of military documents that detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
The call, by the UN’s chief investigator on torture, Manfred Nowak, came as Phil Shiner, human rights specialist at Public Interest Lawyers in the UK, warned that some of the deaths documented in the Iraq war logs could have involved British forces and would be pursued through the UK courts. He demanded a public inquiry into allegations that British troops were responsible for civilian deaths during the conflict.
The Guardian has analysed the 400,000 documents, the biggest leak in US military history, and found 15,000 previously unreported civilian deaths. The logs show how US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and generally unpunished.
Nowak said that if the files released through WikiLeaks pointed to clear violations of the UN Convention Against Torture the Obama administration had an obligation to investigate them.
For more of this
From the NY Times
The Iraq Archive: The Strands of a War
Published: October 22, 2010
A close analysis of the 391,832 documents helps illuminate several important aspects of this war:
¶ The war in Iraq spawned a reliance on private contractors on a scale not well recognized at the time and previously unknown in American wars. The documents describe an outsourcing of combat and other duties once performed by soldiers that grew and spread to Afghanistan to the point that there are more contractors there than soldiers.
¶ The documents suggest that the so-called surge worked not only because the American military committed to more troops and a new strategy but because Iraqis themselves, exhausted by years of bloody war, were ready for it. The conditions, the documents suggest, may not be repeatable in the still intensifying war in Afghanistan.
¶ The deaths of Iraqi civilians — at the hands mainly of other Iraqis, but also of the American military — appear to be greater than the numbers made public by the United States during the Bush administration.
¶ While the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Americans, particularly at the Abu Ghraib prison, shocked the American public and much of the world, the documents paint an even more lurid picture of abuse by America’s Iraqi allies — a brutality from which the Americans at times averted their eyes.
¶ Iran’s military, more than has been generally understood, intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants, offering weapons, training and sanctuary and in a few instances directly engaging American troops.
For more of this
From Der Spiegal
Hellfire from the Sky
Iraq War Logs Reveal Details of Dubious Apache Attacks
By Marcel Rosenbach
Two Iraqis wanted to surrender, but were gunned down by an American helicopter. The Iraq war logs reveal a number of dubious attacks by Apache helicopters and raise the question of whether US pilots committed war crimes.
The United States military report dated July 12, 2007, 9:50 a.m., is just a few lines long, 893 characters to be precise. The document, which is full of military acronyms, deals with an incident in Baghdad and is included in a category called “Direct Fire,” which describes military clashes between Americans and Iraqis. It is one of 59,000 reports in this category included in the documents that WikiLeaks has now released on the Iraq war.
It isn’t even particularly noticeable, not even because of the number of victims it describes. The report talks of “13 AIF KIA,” in the military jargon of the US Army. Translated, it means that 13 enemies (”anti-Iraqi forces”) were “killed in action.” The report also mentions two wounded adults and two wounded Iraqi children. The six sentences relate chronologically how helicopters fired missiles at the enemy, apparently after US ground troops had come under small-arms fire.
It sounds like a routine firefight. But the incident described so tersely by the brief report would later change the way many people viewed the war. The events of that July morning were recorded on video. The incident has now become world famous, after the video was released by WikiLeaks. The footage shows a brutal helicopter attack in which US soldiers killed defenseless civilians.
The supposed “anti-Iraqi forces” who were killed were probably Iraqis who were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, including two employees of the Reuters news agency. The video also shows how the crews asked for permission to open fire on a minibus rushing to the scene — and how they obtained it.
The two severely injured children, who were in the minibus when it came under fire, lost their father in the attacks. He had been driving them to school when he stopped to help the injured Reuters driver.
The shocking footage of the incident is the original video taken from one of the two Apache helicopters, codenamed Crazyhorse 18 and 19, that were involved in the incident. It is filmed from the perspective of the American shooter. In April 2010, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange presented the video, which he had titled “Collateral Murder,” at the National Press Club in Washington. At the time, it was the whistleblowing organization’s biggest scoop to date.
The roughly 18-minute video is difficult to watch, partly because it isn’t clear what’s worse: the images or the recorded conversations of the helicopter crew. “Nice,” says one crew member after a deadly salvo. “Look at those dead bastards.” The conversation continues in a similar tone.
For more of this
From The Swedish Wire
Politics - Published Sunday, 20 June 2010 10:55 | Author: AFP / The Swedish Wire
Wikileaks: ‘Iceland safe haven for press freedom’
REYKJAVIK (AFP) - Iceland is becoming an offshore safe haven for information, an insider with whistleblower website WikiLeaks said.
• Nordics top watchdog’s press freedom index
Iceland’s parliament, the Altingi, voted Tuesday to task government with finding ways to increase information freedom and to provide stronger protections for media sources and whistleblowers to make Iceland a leader in freedom of expression.
The Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, or IMMI “aims to create an offshore safe haven for information, to add to transparency,” said Kristinn Hrafnsson, an investigative journalist with public broadcaster RUV, who has co-operated with Wikileaks.
Even before the passing of the initiative, which was in part drafted by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, work on the project had created a secure environment for revealing sensitive information, he told AFP.
A controversial WikiLeaks video released in April of a US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed two employees of the Reuters news agency and a number of other people had, for instance, been edited in Reykjavik, he pointed out.
“At the time, Iceland seemed to be the safest place to prepare for the release of the video and do the necessary fact checks,” said Hrafnsson, who took part in the process.
For more of this