London’s Guardian newspaper and Al-Jazeera Friday reported new cases of torture and higher numbers of civilian casualties in Iraq, as a WikiLeaks disclosure of 400,000 classified documents began spilling out through the world media.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, along with Daniel Ellsberg, will hold a press briefing Saturday in London with Daniel Ellsberg. WikiLeaks and Assange continue to be under siege by a special Pentagon task force seeking to discredit the organization, cut off its funding, and if possible bring espionage charges.
According to the Guardian account, “US authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished.” In addition, “More than 15,000 civilians died in previously unknown incidents. US and UK officials have insisted that no official record of civilian casualties exists but the logs record 66,081 non-combatant deaths out of a total of 109,000 fatalities.”
Throughout the Iraq conflict, the US administration and Congress refused to enforce the Leahy amendment, which bars any US assistance to foreign military units that engage in systemic human rights violations. The Leahy amendment currently is being considered to cut off assistance to certain Pakistani army units.
Like all Americans, the Peace and Justice Resource Center needs the peeling back of secrecy covering the Pentagon’s wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If you haven’t already, please sign the PJRC petition here to support whistleblowers as an important resource for democracy.
Accused by the military of possibly having “blood on their hands” over the previous release of 90,000 documents on the war in Afghanistan, the military recently conceded that no harm by the whistleblowing activists has been identified.
Tom Hayden is the author of 17 books, a former California state senator and a longtime peace activist.
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