Updated at 6:58 p.m. ET
The New York Times, The Guardian newspaper of London, German magazine Der Spiegel and French newspaper Le Monde reported Friday that secret U.S. military documents about the war in Iraq detail torture, summary executions and war crimes.
These are the same documents - part of the largest publication of secret material in history - that Pentagon officials have been urging the website WikiLeaks and the media not to publish.They first appeared on the Arab network Al Jazeera, reports CBS News correspondent David Martin.
Among the details from the approximately 400,000, collected from field reports sent in by American units in the field between 2004 and 2009, and leaked to the news outlets are that:
- U.S. 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.
- Americans often turned a blind eye to Iraqis being tortured and abused by other Iraqis in secret prisons.
- Iran's military - to a further extent than previously known - intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants, offering weapons, training and sanctuary.
- A U.S. helicopter gunship involved in a notorious Baghdad incident had previously killed Iraqi insurgents after they tried to surrender.
- According to one tabulation, there have been 100,000 civilian causalities - greater than the numbers previously made public, many of them killed by American troops but most of them were killed by other Iraqis.Pentagon: Iraqi Collaborators Now in Danger?
The Pentagon has called on WikiLeaks to return all the secret material it has obtained, but the organization has refused. Its officials say there is value in releasing the raw information. But the Pentagon calls the wholesale release of the secret documents "irresponsible."
The documents were made available to the four news organizations on the condition that they be embargoed until now. According to Der Spiegel, the documents included in the WikiLeaks database aren't of the highest level of classification - at most, they are "secret," but not "top secret." Many of the most sensational events in the Iraq war don't make an appearance, including the torture scandal at Abu Ghraib.
WikiLeaks has never revealed where it obtained the information, although an American Army intelligence analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, has been arrested and accused of being a source of classified material.
In a statement emailed to reporters Friday, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell called the documents "snapshots of events" that "do not tell the whole story."Morell said U.S. "enemies will mine this information looking for insights into how we operate, cultivate sources and react in combat situations..." and that the publication of the material "could very well get our troops and those they are fighting with killed." Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former commander in Afghanistan, called the release "sad" Friday evening at a summit sponsored by the news site the Daily Beast. "The decision to leak classified information is something that is illegal, and individuals are making judgments about threats and information they are not qualified to make," McChrystal said. "There is a level of responsibility toward our people that needs to be balanced with a right or need to know."
WikiLeaks published more than 70,000 similar documents from the Afghanistan War in March, and Pentagon officials issued similar dire warnings. They acknowledge they cannot point to any incident in which people died or operations were compromised by that release, but they say such consequences could still happen.In preparation for the latest release, a team of more than a hundred analysts from across the U.S. military, led by the Defense Intelligence Agency, has been combing through the Iraq documents. Called the Information Review Task Force, its analysts have pored over the documents they predicted would be released, and used word searches to try to pull out names and other issues that would be particularly sensitive, officials have said.
The following are two examples of redacted documents published by the New York Times:Summary: The archive disclosed by WikiLeaks documents hundreds of cases in which Iraqi police officers or soldiers were involved in prisoner abuse. In this case, American soldiers found 173 Iraqis detained by the police, many bearing bruises, sores and burns from cigarettes. DETAINEE ABUSE RPTD BY 2 BCT IN BAGHDAD (ZONE 10): 0 CF INJ/DAMAGE AT 1600C, 2BCT REPORTS, 173 MOI DETAINES BEING HELD AT AN MOI INTERMNMENT FACILITY NEXT OT THE KARADA DAC HALL. MANY OF THEM BEAR MARKS OF ABUSE TO INCLUDE CIGARETTE BURNS, BRUISING CONSISTENT WITH BEATINGS AND OPEN SORES. MANY OF THE DETAINEES ARE COUGHING AND ARE BEING DESCRIBED AS WALKING WOUNDED. APPROX 95 X DETAINEES WERE BEING HELD IN 1 X ROOM AND WERE SITTING CROSS-LEGGED WITH BLIND FOLDS, ALL FACING THE SAME DIRECTION. ACCORDING TO ONE OF THE DETAINEES QUESTIONED ON SITE, 12 X DETAINEES HAVE DIED OF DISEASE IN RECENT WEEKS. MARNE 66 RESPONDED AND IS ON SITE. D/4-64 AR IS RESPONDING TO ASSIST WITH SECURITY AND TO FACILITATE THE RELEASE AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES FROM THE FACILITY. A STAFF JUDGE ADVOCATE AND IRAQI JUDGE ARE ALSO RESPONDING. 4-64 AR IS BRINGING MEDICAL ASSETS, HA MEALS AND WATER. THE SJA AND IRAQI JUDGE WILL REVIEW DETAINEE FILES TO DECIPHER WHICH DETAINEES WILL REMAIN IN CUSTODY. THE 4-64 AR SURGEON WILL BE ASSESSING THE MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE DETAINEES AND WILL CASEVAC ACCORDINGLY. 0 CF INJ/DAMAGE Summary: If the war was dangerous for Americans, it was far worse for the Iraqis who worked for them. One Iraqi interpreter was killed by an American sniper from his own unit, who mistook him for a militant when the Iraqi became separated from his platoon. BLUE ON WHITE BY 1ST RECON S OF NASSER WA AL SALEM: 1 CIV KILLED, 0 CF INJ/DAMA AT 200100C FEB 06, A 1ST RECON SNIPER TEAM WHILE CONDUCTING CLANDESTINE SNIPER OPERATIONS IVO HAJI RD IN THE ZAIDON ENGAGED (1) MAM WITH (4) 5.56MM ROUNDS IVO (38S MB 09971 79804) 4KM S OF NASSER WA AL SALEM. THE MAM WAS PID W/ AK-47 CREEPING UP BEHIND THEIR SNIPER POSITION AND WAS SHOT IN THE CHEST W/ (2) 5.56MM ROUNDS AT 15M. QRF WAS LAUNCHED TO EXTRACT THE SNIPER TEAM. THE MAM WAS SEARCHED BY TEAM AND RECOVERED (1) AK-47, (2) MAGAZINES OF 7.62MM, DOUBLE TAPED, (1) LARGE KNIFE, (1) ID CARD WITH "----- -----" WRITTEN ON CARD. MAM WAS ALSO NOTED TO BE WEARING A TRACKSUIT AND SEVERAL WARMING LAYERS TO INCLUDE (2) PAIRS OF SOCKS. THE BODY WAS LEFT BEHIND AT (38S MB 09971 79804) UPON EXTRACT OF THE SST. PIONEER OBSERVING ON SITE W/ NSTR. UPDATE: UPON FURTHER INVESTIGATION THE KIA TURNED OUT TO BE THE PLATOON'S INTERPRETER THAT WAS SEPARATED FROM UNIT. THE BODY WAS RECOVERED AND IS CURRENTLY LOCATED AT FALLUJAH SURGICAL. THIS ACTION IS NOW CONSIDERED A BLUE ON GREEN. IT RESULTED IN (1) IZ KIA (IRAQI INTERPRETER EMPLOYED BY TITAN.