Saturday, October 23, 2010

Today's Reading Assignment

Fred Kaplan of Slate has been rummaging through the latest WikiLeaks dump of Iraq War documents, and seems less-than-impressed:

Judging from the excerpts and analyses in the English-language papers, the documents contain a few new and interesting things, some of which may not please the war critics who tend to be among WikiLeaks' biggest fans.

First, it seems that Pentagon officials were keeping a log of civilian casualties, though spokesmen frequently said at the time that they weren't. A secret Defense Department report estimated that just over 100,000 noncombatants were killed between 2004 and 2009.


However, the bigger finding is that, at least according to the Pentagon's secret report, most Iraqi civilian deaths were caused by other Iraqis. The report calculates 31,780 Iraqis killed by roadside bombs and 34,814 by sectarian killings (notated as "murders").

Perhaps the most startling document, summarized in one of the several New York Times stories about the archive, tells of a violent border incident on Sept. 7, 2006, when an Iranian soldier aimed a rocket-propelled grenade launcher at a U.S. platoon. Before he could fire the RPG, an American soldier killed the Iranian with .50-caliber-machine-gun fire. The U.S. platoon, which had been near the border looking for Iranian infiltration routes, withdrew under fire.

As Mr. Kaplan observes, the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, justifies the publication of classified documents by claiming he "helps people who are vulnerable...and I enjoy crushing the bastards." Assange would never admit it, but the latest dump demonstrates that the real bad guys in Iraq are the locals--and the "neighbors" next door.

1 comment:

TOF said...

How do we know that this stuff is legitimate US classified material? I'm sure the DoD isn't saying, one way or the other.

I'm supposing it could be some kind of disinformation campaign.