The latest release of classified documents by Wikileaks has damning evidence of abuse, murder and possible war crimes committed by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The response from the United States Government was not one of moral outrage and a promise to “get to the bottom of all of this” but a massive spin campaign to redirect the issue against the ones who seek the truth.
Documents revealed official reports of deaths of Iraqi citizens, abuse of prisoners and video evidence of unjustified murder. However, the spokesman for the Pentagon, Geoff Morrell blamed Wikileaks for “sharing secret information with the world.” Morrell who is the most despicable spin doctor we have seen recently did not have one measure of pity for those Iraqis, Afghans or Americans that were killed unjustifiable but choose to take the stand the US is right and everyone else is wrong. Morrell can only be defined as a front man with no conscience.
War crimes are freely alleged every time the U.S. gets into a conflict but the term never seems to apply to our country. War crimes are defined as violations of laws or customs of war such as murder or ill-treatment of civilians. There is more than enough proof in the leaked documents that this country has some major explaining to do. For example, the crew of an American helicopter is seen killing two Iraqi’s who were trying to surrender. In other cases, prisoners had fingers cut off, were burned with acid or were executed while Americans looked the other way. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were outraged, not that these criminal offenses occurred but that Wikileaks let the American people know about them.
It has all happened before.
In the 1970’s at the height of the Vietnam War, the U.S. found itself in the same position it is today, fighting a losing battle. Under the direction of the C.I.A., which is most likely responsible for a majority of the Middle East military problems, they started the Phoenix Project. This plan was to neutralize (CIA speak for kill) civilian insurgents. 26,369 civilians were “neutralized.” It was termed an outright assassination campaign often resulting in the deaths of innocent civilians.
Of course, the other much publicized war crime was the Mai Lai Massacre in which approximately 400 unarmed civilians in the small village were sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered by a U.S. Army unit on March 16, 1968. Most of the murder victims were women, children, elderly and babies. The military put on a show of investigating the incident and only one soldier was convicted of a crime and served only four and one half months. When reports of the massacre initially began to surface they went to Major Colin Powell later to become an important military figure. He said the reports did not reflect the excellent relations between Americans and Vietnamese and were whitewashed.
If it were not for brave members of the military that wrote their congressmen, their generals, even the President to expose the murders, the military would have covered it up. In 1969, a courageous independent investigative journalist seeking the truth, Seymour Hersh broke the story which wound up on the front pages of Time, Newsweek, Life and CBS. Julian Assange of Wikileaks is one of those brave journalists.
A quote from Colin Powell about the Mai Lai Massacre and the murder of children and babies can sum up the truth about what goes on in Iraq and Afghanistan. “In war, these sorts of terrible things happen now and again.”