On October 22, 391,831 classified Iraq War logs were made public on the internet. The logs are written primarily by low-ranking officers in the field. They are full of acronyms and military jargon. Some are mundane—bridge closings and lightning storm advisories—while others are horrific—denials of prisoner abuse and friendly fire. The logs document events between January 2004 and December 2009. The source of these logs was WikiLeaks, an international organization that publishes classified documents from anonymous sources.
According to wikileaks.org, the full report details 109,032 deaths in Iraq, 60 percent of which were civilian. At a press conference in London on October 23, WikiLeak’s editor-in-chief Julian Assange called the war logs “the most comprehensive and detailed account of any war ever to have entered public record.” They even dwarf WikiLeaks’s release of 90,000 pages of classified material about the war in Afghanistan this past July.
When Daniel Ellsburg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, the only way he could ensure mass circulation was to publish the classified documents in a highly respected and widely-read newspaper. Had the New York Times refused to publish his leak, it could have been effectively suppressed. A few weeks ago, when WikiLeaks offered its documents to the New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, and Der Speigel, its intention was to have the useful information parsed by sophisticated news organizations. But regardless of whether or not it was broken into manageable chunks and printed for the masses, the ‘leaks’ were instantaneously globally available.
The excerpts the Times chose to publish on its website are accompanied by concise summaries. Scroll over an acronym in the text, and its definition pops up in a little speech bubble—IZ is the ‘International Zone,’ SAF is ‘Small Arms Fire,’ KIA is ‘Killed In Action.’ By publishing its own digest of the documents, the Times exercises its power to collaborate with WikiLeaks and publicize what it finds to be most significant about the leak. Our timeline highlights the contrast between the Iraq War of news headlines and the Iraq War of gritty field reports. US Journalists have been immersed in the Iraq conflict from the outset. As of September 29, 143 journalists had died in the war. But the War logs, fact-based and hastily written, provide a glimpse of the war that journalists cannot—the incidents as they were communicated by troops. The logs present the Iraq War as a series of moments—rather than a summary of milestones—in the language of war itself: ungrammatical, often present-tense, coded military shorthand.
BCT [Brigade combat team (US)]___ CONVOY INADVERTENTLY ENGAGED A CIVILIAN CONTRACTOR SECURITY ELEMENT VIC [vicinity] ___ (ACCESS ROAD TO FOB [Forward Operating Base] ___). THE ___ CONVOY HAD USED AN ___ TO BLOCK TRAFFIC AS IT WAS EXITING THE FOB. 2X FORD EXCURSIONS APPROACHED THE CONVOY AND WERE WAVED THROUGH. A SOLDIER IN THE CONVOY DID NOT REALIZE THE VEHICLES WERE ALLOWED TO PASS AND ENGAGED THE ___ WITH ___. THE ___ WAS HIT THREE TIMES. THERE WERE NO INJ AND THE VEHICLE WAS ALLOWED ON FOB ___ UNTIL IT COULD SAFELY CONTINUE ITS . ___ HAS INITIATED A COMMANDERE___ INQUIRY.
Gist: Civilian contractors were waved through a checkpoint. One soldier didn’t realize a civilians’ vehicle was okayed to pass. He fired three shots at the vehicle.
CBSNews.com. “Abuse of Iraqi POWs By GIs Probed: 60 Minutes II Has Exclusive Report on Alleged Mistreatment.”
...photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad. The Army investigated, and issued a scathing report...
U.S. transfers sovereignty to Iraq. Bush's response: "Let freedom reign!"
WMD search in Iraq is declared over.
Iraqis vote to ratify draft constitution.
“DETAINEE ABUSE RPTD...”
AT 1600C, 2BCT REPORTS, 173 MOI [Ministry of Interior] 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...THE 4-64 AR SURGEON WILL BE ASSESSING THE MEDICAL REQUIREMENTS OF THE DETAINEES AND WILL CASEVAC ACCORDINGLY. 0 CF INJ/DAMAGE
Gist: American Soldiers found 173 Iraqis detained by Iraqi police. Many of the prisoners bore cigarette burns, bruises and open sores. The American soldiers responded by releasing detainees from this specific facility and treating their injuries. Some would remain in custody.
Time Magazine. “Collateral Damage or Civilian Massacre in Haditha?” On the morning of Nov. 19, 2005, a roadside bomb struck a humvee carrying Marines... on a road near Haditha... The next day a Marine communique... reported that [Lance Corporal Miguel (T.J.)] Terrazas and 15 Iraqi civilians were killed by the blast... According to eyewitnesses and local officials... the civilians who died in Haditha on Nov. 19 were killed not by a roadside bomb but by the Marines themselves, who went on a rampage in the village after the attack, killing 15 unarmed Iraqis in their homes, including seven women and three children.
“ALLEGED DETAINEE ABUSE...”
(LATE REPORT) AT 181000APR2006 THE ___ AD DIN PROVINCE POLICE ___ TEAM (___) DISCOVERED A REPORT OF AN ALLEGED CASE OF IRAQI POLICE ABUSING 2X IRAQI PRISONERS IN THE ___ AD DIN PROVINCE IN TIKRIT vicinity ___. THE REPORT STATES THAT THE ABUSE TOOK PLACE AT THE DETENTION FACILITY IN THE COMMUNITY CRIMES COMMITTEE BUILDING LOCATED ON OLD Forward Operating Base DANGER...AN INVESTIGATION IS CURRENTLY BEING CONDUCTED. Nothing Further to Report. CLOSED 200700APR2006
Gist: An alleged case of Iraqi police abusing two Iraqi prisoners. An investigation was made into these claims.
Saddam sentenced to death by hanging.
Gen. David Petraeus officially takes charge of U.S. forces in Iraq.
“SMALL UNIT ACTIONS...”
CRAZYHORSE 18 REPORTS AIF GOT INTO A DUMPTRUCK HEADED NORTH, ENGAGED AND THEN THEY CAME OUT WANTING TO SURRENDER...
CRAZYHORSE 18 CLEARED TO ENGAGE DUMPTRUCK. 1/227 LAWYER STATES THEY CAN NOT SURRENDER TO AIRCRAFT AND ARE STILL VALID TARGETS...
CRAZYHORSE 18 REPORTS ENGAGED AND DESTROYED SHACK WITH 2X AIF. BDA IS SHACK / DUMP TRUCK DESTROYED.
Gist: A US Apache helicopter fired on two enemy insurgents. When the insurgents tried to surrender, US troops consulted an army lawyer, who told them that the enemy could not surrender to an aircraft and were therefore still targets. The soldiers fired a missile at the two men, killing them.
The Pentagon acknowledges Iraq is a civil war.
LA Times. “Contractors outnumber troops in Iraq.” The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort and the government’s capacity to carry out military and rebuilding campaigns.
CNN.com. “Iraqi families sue Blackwater in U.S. Court.” A Philadelphia law firm filed suit against Blackwater USA on Thursday on behalf of the families of Iraqis killed and injured in last month’s shooting in Baghdad’s Nusoor Square. The suit calls the incident a “senseless slaying” and claims it was part of “Blackwater’s lengthy pattern of egregious misconduct in Iraq.”
Iraq Body Count: Iraqi civilian violence in 2007 still at 2005 levels.
From Iraq Body Count, “Civilian deaths from violence in 2007: Analysis of the year’s toll from the Iraq Body Count Project.”
Another 22,586–24,159 civilian deaths have been recorded in 2007 through Iraq Body Count’s extensive monitoring of media and official reports. These figures... show beyond any doubt that civil security in Iraq remains in a parlous state. Figures for the most recent months indicate that violence in Iraq has returned to the monthly levels IBC was recording in 2005, a year which was itself (until 2006) the worst since the invasion.
NY Times. “2005 Use of Gas by Blackwater Leaves Questions.” ...the copter dropped CS gas, a riot-control substance the American military in Iraq can use only under the strictest conditions... An armored vehicle on the ground also released the gas, temporarily blinding drivers, passers-by and at least 10 American soldiers operating the checkpoint... Both the helicopter and the vehicle involved in the incident at the Assassins’ Gate checkpoint were not from the United States military, but were part of a convoy operated by Blackwater Worldwide, the private security contractor...
Odierno succeeds Petraeus as Iraq commander.
Hill confirmed as US Ambassador to Iraq
The Washington Post. “Push to Block Photos.” The Obama administration asked a federal court of appeals in New York on Thursday to recall its order requiring the release of photographs held by the Pentagon that depict the abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Obama... said their release would “further inflame anti-American opinion” and “put our troops in danger.”
Jubilation as US combat troops withdraw from cities.
“(CRIMINAL EVENT) MURDER RPT...”
DETAILS AS WE KNOW THEM AT THIS TIME. 1 X BRITISH PSD CONTRACTOR HAD ALTERCATIONS WITH 1 X AUSTRAILIAN AND 1 X BRITISH CO-WORKERS. ALTERCATION ESCALATED WHEN WEAPON WAS UTILIZED TO KILL CO-WORKERS. SUSPECT THEN FLED SCENE AND RAN THROUGH A INTERNAL CHECKPOINT OF RTI COMPOUND (MANNED BY US- 1-7TH FA SOLDIERS) AND SMASHED WINDOW OF GUARD SHACK. SUSPECT THEN CONTINUE ON AROUND THE CORNER AND ENCOUNTERED A LN [Local National] WHICH HE PROCEEDED TO SHOOT WHILE RUNNING BY. HE CONTINUED ON TRYING TO FLEE AND THAT IS WHEN HE RAN INTO A ROVING PATROL (1-7TH FA SOLDIERS) WHICH ESCALATED FORCE AND HAD SUSPECT DROP HIS WEAPON. 1-7TH FA SOLDIERS HELD SUSPECT UNTIL IZ POLICE ARRIVED AND PUT HIM INTO CUSTODY. CURRENTLY SUSPECT IS HELD BY US IZ POLICE UNTIL FURTHER DETAILS CAN BE OBTAINED.
Gist: An employee of Armor Group, a British private security company, shot and killed two coworkers after getting into a heated argument. He attempted to escape but was detained.