Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

U.S. failed to probe Iraqi prisoner abuse cases, reports on WikiLeaks docs say

Julian Assange of the WikiLeaks website holds up a copy of The Guardian newspaper as he speaks to reporters in front of a Don McCullin Vietnam war photograph at The Front Line Club on July 26, 2010 in London, England. The WikiLeaks website has published 90,000 secret US Military records. The Guardian and The New York Times newspapers and the German Magazine Der Spiegel have also published details today.

Peter Macdiarmid/Peter MacDiarmid/Getty Images

The United States knew but failed to investigate cases of prisoner abuse by Iraqi police and soldiers, according to media reports on Friday about a new dump of some 400,000 secret U.S. files on the Iraq war.

The files also detailed well-known U.S. concerns about Iranian training and support for Iraqi militias.

Whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks was behind the latest dissemination of classified U.S. documents, which far surpassed its July release of more than 70,000 files on the Afghan war.

Story continues below advertisement

The two incidents represent the largest security breaches of their kind in U.S. military history, and drew a sharp rebuke from the Pentagon.

"We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world," Geoff Morrell, Pentagon press secretary, said.

WikiLeaks gave some media outlets advance access to the massive database, and Britain's Guardian newspaper and Al Jazeera television both said the documents showed U.S. forces effectively turned a blind eye to Iraqi rights violations.

The Guardian wrote about a case where police shot a prisoner in the leg after which the detainee suffered abuse that caused cracked ribs, multiple lacerations and welts from being whipped with a large rod and hose across his back.

"The outcome: 'No further investigation,' " the Guardian wrote.

The New York Times said that: "while some abuse cases were investigated by the Americans, most noted in the archive seemed to have been ignored." It said soldiers had told their officers about the abuses and then asked Iraqis to investigate.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this resolved by the end of January 2018. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.