The United States and other military logs from Iraq, recently made public by the Wikileaks website, number almost 400,000 and include aircraft cockpit videos. They form a detailed chronicle of systematic abuse, torture, and concealment on the part of the invading forces and their Iraqi counterparts. The documents, covering the period 2004-09, make nonsense of the claims made by politicians and military commanders about the way the invasion and occupation have been conducted. First, the admitted tally of deaths is shockingly off the mark. The U.S. military and British Ministers have said they do not keep figures, but the documents show otherwise. The monitoring group, Iraq Body Count, says the number needs to be increased by about 15,000. The logs record over 109,000 violent deaths in the period they cover, with more than 66,000 civilian victims. In view of the wide range of casualty estimates, these figures need to be seen as conservative. The logs also show beyond doubt that extensive and calculated torture was an integral part of the invaders' strategy. It was carried out by the coalition forces, by the Iraqi forces and police, and by the mercenaries, who emerge as incompetent, out of control, and so vicious that they caused revulsion even among the U.S. military; some of their employing companies have also refused access to investigators.
As for the military, under Fragmentary Order or Frago 242, torture was investigated only when coalition troops were directly involved. This gave Iraqi forces free rein to torture for all manner of reasons, including the sectarian and the personal. The invaders knew how those forces worked; they themselves never stopped torture and random killing, whether by ground or airborne forces; and British forces used sensory deprivation and mental torture as well. The harm done to the victims of the invasion and occupation was incalculable. The media bodies which have edited the logs for publication, such as the Guardian and Der Spiegel International, have taken care not to endanger those still involved, but the official reactions to the leaks are not credible. None of the governments or commanders concerned did anything to end the culture of brutality; official reports repeatedly dismissed the complaints of victims who survived. The governments that planned the invasion claimed, with much help from influential sections of the international media, that they were bringing democracy and freedom to Iraq. The truth, as shown by the invaders' own documents, is that the U.S. and its allies created a reign of terror indistinguishable from that of the tyrant they overthrew.