US commanders in Iraq ignored evidence of torture and the murder of civilians. These are the major findings from the leak of 400,000 secret American military files from the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange said the goal of the latest release is to reveal the hidden truth.
”The attack on the truth by war begins long before war starts and continues long after a war ends. In our release of these 400,000 documents about Iraq war, the intimate detail of that war from the US perspective, we hope to correct some of that attack on the truth,” he said.
The files also reveal that 66,000 civilians were killed in Iraq since the US invaded – even though Washington had denied it kept any such record.
The figure does not include scores of deaths during the US two major offensives on the city of Fallujah in 2004. Its residents are still fighting the severest consequences of those attacks.
After the shrapnel struck 16-year-old Malik’s head, a tumor appeared. Now he is fighting a cancer that is eating away at his head and stomach while his friends are fighting for the ball on a football pitch.
“I collected the splinters of the rocket after it exploded,” said the boy’s uncle Mohammed Ali. “Whoever I showed them to said they were American and contaminated, poisoned.”
Malik’s father lost a leg in the attack and also the family’s source of income as a taxi driver.
“I wonder what weapons they didn’t use against us,” said Musa Khudir, Malik’s father. “We in Fallujah are all contaminated. Sometimes I can hardly breathe.”
Iraq is littered with buildings that used to be headquarters of Saddam’s secret police. In 2003 they underwent multiple rocket attacks. The full effect of those weapons is still being felt today.
US marines first bombarded Fallujah six years ago. It came after four employees of the American security company Blackwater were killed and their bodies burned. A report showed that after the eight-month standoff, higher rates of cancer, leukemia and infant mortality were found than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the atomic bomb drops in World War II.
“We found that the infant mortality rates compared with Egypt and Jordan were about four or five times higher, and about ten times higher if you taker countries like Kuwait, where there is good health care,” said Dr Chris Busby, author of “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth-Sex Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2006”
In the last few years, hundreds of deformed babies have been born in Fallujah’s general hospital. Doctors dub them the “white phosphorous children”.
“Between the late ’90s and 2003, we had patients with nervous system malfunctions roughly three times a year,” said Dr Samira Al-Ani, a pediatrician from Fallujah General Hospital. “At there moment we’re getting three such patients a week.”
There are cases of children being born with one eye. And with not a single day going past without a new case being registered, more and more doctors here are pointing the finger at the United States.
“The American combat operation caused environmental pollution,” said the chairman of the Women’s Council of the Human Rights Commission. “Both the US and British sides admitted that they employed banned weapons.”
Dr Abdu Wahab Al-Falluji is head of the Interior Diseases Department of Fallujah General Hospital and also a father – or at least he was until a year ago when his 12-year-old son died of cancer.
“Most parents leave their babies in the hospital,” he told RT. “They’re scared by the way they look. These babies are doomed to die.”
And die far from the eyes of the world, because while Fallujah’s streets might today be quiet, the city remains cut off from the rest of the country. Doctors here say they are under pressure to keep quiet.
According to RT contributor Wayne Madsen, the WikiLeaks revelations show the US knew exactly what was going on in Iraq.
“I think we are seeing the US basically responsible for the same kinds of crimes that we allowed Iraq to execute Saddam Hussein and other members of his government for doing,” he said. “We replace one brutal regime with the US-backed brutal regime.”
”I think that if this was a fair system of international justice, we would see indictments of Misters Bush and Cheney, and Tony Blair and some the US military commanders in Iraq,” he added.
Entifadh Qanbar, member of the Iraqi National Congress, says that although the materials could be very useful in bringing war criminals to justice and seeing them punished, they must first be very carefully studied.
“I can tell you from my sources in Washington that some of the reports, the abuse documents, have been issued by low-level military officers and soldiers in Iraq, and some of them may not have high intelligence value, and some of them may have some information that is not attributed or substantiated; however, these are very important documents that must be reviewed very carefully, word by word,” he said.
According to Brian Becker, Director of the anti-war A.N.S.W.E.R. coalition, WikiLeaks is revealing the horrible truth that has been known for years.
“The police forces and army that were trained by the Americans… engaged in systematic torture, abuse, rape and it was unreported and unpublished by their masters, by the US trainers,” he said.
Now, however hard Washington may want to hush WikiLeaks, it should think twice: following the report, the UN chief investigator for torture has already called on Barack Obama to investigate possible cases of torture in Iraq, Becker pointed out.
“If the US takes actions now to repress WikiLeaks, it may very well backfire, and instead of repressing them, intimidating them and their supporters create a groundswell of worldwide support for them. The people want justice, they want the truth,” Becker said.
Craig Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, alleged his country's complicity in human rights abuse.
“I think what becomes more and more plain is no ideal relationship between the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and international security,” Murray told RT. “These are not wars which are genuinely keeping us safe in the West, these are wars that which buy the effect upon the civilian populations or because of many atrocities committed by coalition forces, are causing more hatred towards the West and therefore actually decreasing international security. So I think actions like…releasing so many documents and getting the truth… are helping long-term international security.”