WikiLeaks Snapshot: A Week in War

Iraqi mourners carry the body of slain Sheik Norzad Taher in a funeral procession on Dec. 2, 2005. Iraqi soldiers found the Kurdish cleric's body on Thursday, four days after he was kidnapped. AP Photo/Yahya Ahmed

By Laura Strickler and Catherine Cannon


While Americans were wrapping up their Thanksgiving weekend and turning towards holiday shopping in 2005, the war raged on in Iraq.

Through official reports, the Pentagon announced the deaths of 22 soldiers serving in Iraq during the week of Sunday, November 27, 2005 through Saturday December 3, 2005.

On Sunday the Pentagon announced the death of Sgt. Gregory Hull, a twenty-year-old from Pocahontas, Iowa, who died from an improvised explosive device (IED) in Al-Anbar Province. On Wednesday, the Pentagon said 20-year-old Corporal Joshua Snyder from Hampstead, Md., died from small-arms fire in Fallujah.

And on Thursday, ten Marines died all at once. The men were at an abandoned flour factory they were using as a patrol base outside of Fallujah when an IED exploded. The Pentagon reported the men ranged from age 19 to 29.

There were no other official Pentagon press releases of violent events in Iraq that week.

But a look at the 1,202 secret documents released by WikiLeaks from the same week paints a picture of the grisly environment faced by U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians where death was routine.

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From the secret reports emerge tragic details regarding the explosion in the flour factory that killed ten Marines. The report indicates: "The patrol had just completed sweeping the courtyard of a flour factory with metal detectors, finding nothing, when an improvised explosive device detonated in the courtyard."

On Tuesday of that week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld did a radio interview with syndicated talk show host Neal Boortz.

Rumsfeld expressed frustration with the negative media coverage of the war: "All I know is that there are just an enormous number of very good things happening over there, and yet what we tend to see are the other side of the coin, namely that there are a few things going on over there that are not positive and that are worrisome."

A sampling of the secret files that week shows 372 explosive hazards; 702 attacks on the enemy; 272 enemy actions; 143 reports of IEDs found or cleared; seven reported kidnappings; and four tribal feuds.

During a press briefing on Tuesday, Rumsfeld was asked about reports of Iraqi death squads "assassinating and torturing hundreds of Sunnis."

Rumsfeld responded, "What you're talking about is unverified - to my knowledge, at least - unverified comments. I just don't have any data from the field that I could comment on in a specific way."

While Rumsfeld answered questions in Washington, Pentagon reports show civilian deaths in Iraq (although there's no indication they are the result of "death squads"). For example, one report two days before the press briefing describes the discovery of a grave in the desert with 13 dead civilians.

Pentagon reports also show there were 20 Iraqi police and military officers assassinated that week.

The assassination reports are graphic. One cites a drive-by shooting on Tuesday. On Friday, two civilian bodies were found in an abandoned storage depot with their hands tied behind their backs and blindfolded. The men were found face down, the report says, with multiple fresh gunshot wounds in their backs.

Five civilians were kidnapped during the week as well. One man was kidnapped while hanging posters along a road for his brother who was running for office.

There were 176 IED explosions that week, with 53 reports of explosions on just one day, Sunday.

The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace told a press briefing two days later that the enemy uses IEDs as a weapon of last resort, because they "have not once won an engagement with U.S. and coalition forces."

But Pace went on to say that while casualties from IEDs had gone down "a little bit" due to new protections for troops, the overall number of "IED explosions has gone up," he said.
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