In the information age that we live in, I find it only fitting to know that there is a whistle-blower organization out there in cyberspace releasing classified documents. WikiLeaks released 391,832 reports last Friday documenting the war and occupation of Iraq, from January 1st, 2004 to December 31st, 2009. The reports come straight from a top source: soldiers in the United States Army.
The founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange claims the publishing of the Iraq War logs was an attempt to show “intimate details” of the conflict in an effort to reveal the truth, much like Daniel Ellsberg did when he leaked the “Pentagon Papers” in 1971. It revealed that the U.S. had deliberately expanded its war in Vietnam by bombing Cambodia. The most damaging revelation was that four Presidents, from Truman to Johnson, had misled the public regarding their intentions.
So far, analysis of the Iraq War Diaries has revealed a bigger scope in the number of overall casualties than the US government had been letting on, with an estimated 15,000 more civilian deaths previously unidentified. The documents also reveal further prisoner abuse by the Iraqi army long after the scandal at Abu Ghraib prison. The US military was apparently fully aware of human rights abuses and torture carried out by the Iraq Army up until the end. Saddam Hussein‘s habits in fact did not die with him.
With the war in Iraq “officially” over, unlike the Vietnam War when the Pentagon Papers were published, I don’t think the Iraq War Diaries will have the same effect. With the midterm elections coming up next week, it doesn’t even seem to be a blip on the American media’s screen, but I don’t think that makes it any less important. With all the false media out there these days on the internet, on the radio or television, it’s more important than ever to get the truth out there. “We the people” after all have a right to know.
Since the release of these files, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have come under tremendous fire from the governments of the US, Britain, Australia, etc. A Fox news contributor has said that the people at WikiLeaks should be declared ‘enemy combatants’ and American politicians have said that WikiLeaks has blood on their hands (ironic coming from supporters of the war). They all claim that releasing all this information further puts coalition troops in harm’s way.
Of course, they said the same thing about the Pentagon Papers and more recently about the 70,000 pages about the Afghan War WikiLeaks released in the summer. Both of which proved to have no impact on the risk to soldiers, the Pentagon even confirmed as much. The only thing these governments (and people) are trying to protect is their nation’s reputation, although America’s reputation is already in tatters.
While the Iraq War now seems to be an afterthought in the minds of many Americans, I would encourage all of them and everyone else to read some of the entries and look into what happened during those five years. BlackWater, torture, unnecessary killings and thousands of minute, but life taking incidents. The more we know of war, the less and less likely we are to accept it.