New WikiLeaks Files Detail Iraq Civilian Deaths, Detainee Abuse

The WikiLeaks website has released nearly 400,000 classified U.S. military files from the Iraq war, revealing new details about civilian deaths, detainee abuse, and actions by Iran.

The documents consist of raw battlefield reports from small units to their commanders. The U.S. military has condemned the release, saying it could endanger the lives of American troops and their Iraqi allies.

The documents reveal a count of more than 109,000 people killed in Iraq’s violence between the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 and the end of last year, and indicate more than 60 percent were Iraqi civilians. They describe cases where the United States knew of prisoner abuse by Iraqi police and soldiers, but failed to intervene.The documents also describe Iranian support for Iraq’s Shi’ite insurgents. They detail discoveries of Iranian-supplied weapons and report specific instances in which detainees spoke of having received Iranian training and other help.

One field report included in the documents says the three American hikers detained by Iran in July 2009 were on the Iraqi side of the border when they were arrested. The report says the Americans ignored warnings about traveling near the border and predicts Iran would accuse the three detainees of spying.

The document was first reported by The New York Times Friday.

WikiLeaks allowed several news organizations, including The New York Times, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, and Der Spiegel advance access to the files.

Earlier Friday, the U.S. Department of Defense warned that the release of classified documents could endanger the lives of American troops and their allies. It urged news organizations not to cooperate in publishing the materials.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said the Iraq war documents do not provide new insight into the time period covered, but expose secret information that could make American troops vulnerable to attack.

Earlier this year, WikiLeaks published some 77,000 secret documents relating to the war in Afghanistan, including the names of Afghan informants.

Pentagon spokesman Morrell said just as with the previous leak, enemies of the United States will be looking through the Iraq documents for insights into military actions and procedures. He said the latest documents contain “raw observations” of events, both tragic and mundane, and do not tell the whole story.

WikiLeaks has not identified the source of the documents but suspicion has fallen on an Army intelligence analyst who is currently in military custody. He was arrested earlier this year for allegedly leaking a 2007 video of a helicopter strike in Iraq that killed two Iraqis on assignment for the Reuters news agency – Voanews