Iraq’s war logs published by WikiLeaks reveal US troops appeared to abuse Iraqi prisoners after the Abu Ghraib scandal, turned a blind eye to Iraqi-on-Iraqi torture and imprisoned one in 50 Iraqi men.
Channel 4 News has looked at some of the incidents outlined in the WikiLeaks Iraq war logs. Despite former US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld promising to deal with US personnel who were involved in torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib prison and to prevent it from ever happening again, the Iraq war logs appear to reveal that it did happen again and US troops appeared to routinely turn a blind eye to abuse by Iraqi security forces.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ) has teamed up with Channel 4 Dispatches to go through the 400,000 files. Channel 4 News is the only British News broadcaster to be given exclusive access to what they found.
In 2004 Donald Rumsfeld said: “It is my obligation to evaluate what happened to make sure that those who have committed wrong-doing are brought to justice and make changes as needed to see that it doesn’t happen again”.
TBIJ and Dispatches found over 300 classified reports in the Iraq war logs alleging abuse by coalition forces on Iraqi prisoners after the Abu Ghraib scandal.
It is my obligation to evaluate what happened to make sure that those who have committed wrong-doing are brought to justice and make changes as needed to see that it doesn’t happen again.
TBIJ and Dispatches found that over the six years of Iraq war logs, some 180,000 Iraqis were imprisoned. That is one in 50 of the adult male population of Iraq.
Furthermore TBIJ and Dispatches has found more than 1,300 individual cases of torture and abuse carried out by Iraqis on Iraqi prisoners at police stations and army bases, which imply that coalition forces either witnessed or reported on themselves.
According to two military orders given to US troops following the Abu Ghraib revealed in the Iraq war logs, the troops were told they should report any Iraqi-on-Iraqi abuse and torture. But if coalition troops are not involved in the incidents “no further investigating will be conducted”.
International lawyer Mark Ellis told Channel 4 News: “The bottom line is that the US cannot turn a blind eye to tortue when a third party is engaged in this internationally prohibited act.”
In over 300 classified Iraq war log reports analysed by TBIJ and Dispatches it is alleged coalition forces meted out abuse on Iraqi prisoners, after the Abu Ghraib scandal.
In one war log dated February 2006, it alleges a detainee was abused on his way to Abu Ghraib prison. It states: “In ### ####, while conducting out-processing, detainee ####### reported that he was abused during his capture. Detainee is missing his right eye, and has scars on his right forearm. Detainee states that his injuries are a result of the abuse that he received upon capture.”
This is the account of an Iraqi detainee reported by a soldier. Channel 4 News cannot verify the accuracy of the allegation.
In another war log dated in August 2005, it states: “All three detainees reported separately that they received an electric shock to different parts of their body. Detainee ##### reported that an Iraqi policeman (1) held a knife to his throat and (2) placed a pistol to his head and pulled the trigger. He further alleged that American forces (1) punched him and hit him with weapons, (2) threw urine on him, and (3) applied electric shocks to his body.”
A third Iraq war log dated January 2007, states: “At the point of capture Marines grabbed him by the neck, took him to a suspected IED (improvised explosive device), threw him to the ground, and kicked him hard in the stomach. The detainee further alleged Marines made him start digging up the suspected IED and pointed a rifle at his neck while an unknown Marine counted 1 and 2 and 3.”
This war log then suggests the allegations are investigated because “Coalition forces were alleged to have been involved”.
Any activity we conduct is within the law. We do not torture.
A fourth Iraq war log TBIJ and Dispatches found alleged US Marines took photographs of themselves abusing Iraqi prisoners.
In the war log dated November 2006, it states: “After the apprehension of an unknown detainee in ######, two Marines (Cpl and LCpl – which is Corporal and a Lance Corporal) allegedly videotaped themselves with the detainee holding a knife to the detainee’s throat and a M9 (semi-automatic pistol) to the detainee’s head.”
On 7 November 2005 George W Bush said: “Any activity we conduct is within the law.
“We do not torture and therefore we’re working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it more possible to do our job.”
The above examples of Iraq war logs may suggest that the former President’s claim was inaccurate.
Statement from US Pentagon:
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. 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.
George W Bush promised the Iraqi citizens that coalition forces would put an end to the oppression and human rights abuses they endured during the reign of Saddam Hussein. On 17 March 2003, Bush said in a speech: “We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.
“In free Iraq there will be no more wars of aggression against your neighbours, no more poison factories, no more executions of dissidents, no more torture chambers and rape rooms. The tyrant will soon be gone. The day of your liberation is near.”
TBIJ and Dispatches have found within the Iraq war logs what appears to be more than 1,300 individual cases of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi security authorities. US troops either witnessed these alleged abuses or reported on them in the war logs.
One incident recorded in 2007 states: “Detainee stated he received the following abuse: 1) Jabbed with a screwdriver in the right side and upper back 2) Struck with cables and hoses in the arms, back, and legs 3) Electrocuted 4) Sodomised with a hose”.
According to two military orders given to US troops following the Abu Ghraib revealed in the Iraq war logs, the troops appeared to be told they should report any Iraqi-on-Iraqi abuse and torture. But if coalition troops are not involved in the incidents “no further investigating will be conducted”.
Fragmentary Order 039 states: “Iraqi on Iraqi (no US forces personnel were involved) note: MNCI (multi-national corps – Iraq) FRAGO 039 DTD 29 April 2005 has modified FRAGO 242 and now requires reports of Iraqi on Iraqi abuse be reported through operational channels. Incidents of detainee abuse committed by Iraqi forces fall with MNF-IS (multi-national force – Iraq) CCIR (commander’s critical intelligence requirement) #8. Reporting will be made using the format attached to MNCI FRAGO 039. Provided the initial report confirms US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted unless directed by HHQ (higher headquarters).”
Provided the initial report confirms US forces were not involved in the detainee abuse, no further investigation will be conducted unless directed by HHQ.
So the military order here which is referred to in a number of the Iraq war logs shows Iraqi-on-Iraqi abuse would have to be reported by the US troops if witnessed. But as long as US troops were not involved directly in the abuse or torture of Iraqi prisoners “no further investigation will be conducted”, unless ordered by superior headquarters.
This concept came up in a Donald Rumsfeld news conference on 29 November 2005. Stood alongside the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, General Peter Pace, the two appeared to be at odds over what military orders US troops had to adhere to if they were aware of torture of prisoners.
General Pace said: “It is absolutely the responsibility of every US service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted to intervene to stop it.”
Rumsfeld interjected and said: “I don’t think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it. It’s to report it.”
To which Pace replied: “If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place then they have an obligation to try to stop it.”
On a daily basis Iraq war logs appear to have been filed by US troops reporting alleged abuse by Iraqis on Iraqis.
One report dated June 2006 states: “They noticed that all three of the detainees appeared to have been abused. A medical examination revealed bruises, cuts and swelling on all three detainees faces, backs, and arms. Additionally, one detainee was diagnosed with a possible closed head injury, another with a possible jaw fracture, and the third with a possible spinal injury.”
The log concludes with the FRAGO 039: “A coalition forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary.”
Another war log dated October 2006 states: “IP (Iraqi police) ##### ######## ##### allegedly shot and killed a local national, ##### ##### ######## ##### ##-###### while in apprehension.”
Again the stock quote concludes: “No marines were involved in the apprehension of the local national… As coalition forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary.”
Another war log dated January 2007 states: “After their apprehension, unknown IP (Iraqi police) took ###### ###### ##### ###### ## ####### and ##### ###### ###### ###### ## ####### to a gymnasium and then to an abandoned house in ######## where the IP beat them. ##### ###### ###### ###### ## ####### died as a result of the abuse”.
The Iraq war log then concludes: “As coalition forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary.”
Another Iraq war log dated September 2006 states: “Detainee alleged after being arrested IP (Iraqi police) took him to an unknown location. There, the IP blindfolded him and beat him on the back with stick. Detainee would not name IPS that beat him. Detainee did not allege any abuse by CF (coalition forces).”
Again the report ends with: “As coalition forces were not involved in the alleged abuse, no further investigation is necessary.”
TBIJ and Dispatches understand that in some cases there were investigations into torture, but they cannot verify what, if any action was taken against Iraqi perpetrators.
The Bush administration claimed they had investigated allegations of abuse and torture in Iraq’s prisons on several occasions between late November 2005 and March 2006.
Indeed Major General Rick Lynch told reporters at a briefing on 30 March 2006: “In these facilities that we did inspect unannounced, we saw no signs of abuse.
“The facilities were, by our standards, overcrowded, but the people being held at those facilities were being properly taken care of; they were being fed, they had water, they were taken care of. So no abuse, no evidence of torture in those facilities.”
However, TBIJ and Dispatches has uncovered from the Iraq war logs that on 41 separate occasions during the same period, apparent allegations of Iraqi-on-Iraqi abuse and torture was reported by US troops up the chain of command.
Sectarian Militia death squads
Sectarian militia death squads, which existed in or out of the Iraqi police uniform appear to have been responsible for thousands of civilian deaths on an industrial scale.
From the Iraq war logs, TBIJ and Dispatches has found the between 2004 and 2009 32,563 civilians were murdered. Civilian deaths are reported in the Iraq war logs as “murders”.
In the war logs it is reported that coalition forces would often find unidentified corpses dumped in the River Tigris. Some 10,871 civilians were shot in the head, 439 were decapitated and up to 164 were recorded as children.
Even now Iraqi relatives of murdered civilians attend the Baghdad morgue to view up to 20,000 photographs of the unidentified corpses in the “missing room”.
The following Iraq war logs refer to such civilians who were allegedly murdered by the death squads.
The first dated simply 18 August states: “IA (Iraqi Army) forces found a dead body in the Tigris River near al-Suwayrah Bridge. They took the body to as-Suwayrah police station. The body had been in the water a while. The male body was unidentified. Body appeared to be approximately 40 years old and had signs of torture. He was shot in the head and had a blindfold over his eyes. His hands were tied behind his back.”
Another war log states: “1x UNK (unknown) corpse was found tortured, burned with chemicals, hands tied and blindfolded in the ##### ## ####### area.”
Another log states: “1 x approx 12 yo male. Blindfolded, hands tied behind his back, no pants on.
“1 x full grown adult male, cinder block smashed into his face and tied to his head. Missing a pinky finger. Fully clothed.”
Another war log states: “IPS went out to the location and recovered two male bodies from an irrigation canal. The bodies were in such poor condition that identification and cause of death cannot be determined at this time. Due to the fact that the bodies were in such poor condition, it cannot be assessed if these murders were criminal in nature or a terrorist act.”
Finally, and chillingly an Iraq war log reports of a boy who US troops first thought had been killed by bullet shots to the head. They later changed this conclusion.
The Iraq war log states: “IA (Iraqi Army) soldiers found the body of a child between ###### and FOB ####. The child’s family had been looking for him for a week but they never reported him missing until they found him dead today. The child was about 6 yrs old and appears to have been shot several times. IP are investigating further.”
The report is updated at a later date: “The corpse was a LN (local national) male child. The corpse was taken to ######## general hospital. IA (Iraqi Army) reported the child had died from blunt force trauma to the head. Several small holes originally thought to be gunshot wounds were holes caused by a drill. Closed.”