Wikileaks long awaited Iraq files were released by the media on Friday, after more than two months in which a number of news organizations combed over the almost 400,000 documents.
Do they contain anything new? Well, yes and no. For example, much has been made in the last few days about the role that Iran has played in Iraq. The documents may enable us to paint a broader picture as to what extent Iran was involved in Iraq, yet the underlying fact is that to Iraqis, this is old news (as with much else revealed in the documents). Much of Iran’s involvment in Iraq can also be traced back to poor decision-making by the Bush Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority, who initially funded Iraqi Islamist Shia exile groups from Iran in the run-up to the invasion, as well as alienated and underestimated the power and influence of Shia militia groups after the occupation had begun. (More on this later in the week)
Another issue that the documents deal with is how the United States dealt with torture. The Pentagon failed to contain the torture that many Iraqis endured by Iraqi security forces. It instructed its soldiers not to interfere, only to report these instances. Again, Iraqis were well aware of the systematic torture that was meted out by their government (and thus by association the U.S.), even while the Pentagon denied these allegations. Even returning U.S. soldiers opened up that these type of gruesome occurrences took place.
So, where does that leave us? In a sense, what was showcased in these reports is, as mentioned previously nothing new. The average Iraqi on the street or a returning U.S. soldier could have told you the same story, although in less detail. These documents, as a whole, I think point to something deeper than what is represented on those pages. The secrecy and the groupthink going on at the highest levels of the U.S. military during the period as well as the almost complete acquiescence of the American main-stream media to the Pentagon a gave it free pass in it’s conduct of the war. This showcases a great deal of American amnesia, an utter memory-loss of the past and previous American endeavors that have embroiled generations of young men and women both at home and abroad. Sadly, although the final toll of this war is not yet known, that tragedy has again come to pass.
Below are a number of interesting links that deal with the Wikileakes story in-depth to reveal the many different issues it contains.
The Secret Iraq Files – Al Jazeera English – AJE presents and makes sense of the full range of data collected from Wikileaks
Iraq Files Not Surprising – Al Jazeera English – AJE talks with the President of the Arab Lawers Association, which calls the leak only the “tip of the iceberg”
Wikileaks Iraq: Data Journalism maps every death – Guardian UK
Robert Fisk-The Shaming of America – The Independent UK – The veteran Middle East reporter gives his take on the Wikileaks story