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WikiLeaks Announces Release 7x the Size of the Iraq War

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment

Picture of Julian Assange during a talk at 26C3

Picture of Julian Assange during a talk at 26C3

Logs

Stan Schroeder

WikiLeaks has announced an important release on its Twitter account, claiming it’ll be seven times bigger than the Iraq war logs, which are widely considered to be the biggest military leak in history.

“Next release is 7x the size of the Iraq War Logs. intense pressure over it for months. Keep us strong” was the message posted to the Wikileaks Twitter account earlier today.

The message was followed by an even bolder statement two hours later: “The coming months will see a new world, where global history is redefined.”

WikiLeaks is an organization that publishes submissions of otherwise unavailable documents, keeping the sources anonymous. It has published nearly 500,000 secret U.S. documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Recently, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange found himself in the center of a rape scandal. The rape charges against him were initially dropped, but the case still looms over Assange’s head, with the Swedish court recently approving a motion to bring him into custody for questioning.

No details about the upcoming release have been revealed, but the fact that it was mentioned in the same context as the Iraq war logs points to another military-related leak. What do you think Wikileaks will announce? Please, share your opinions in the comments.

Copyright © 2010 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.

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US slammed over grim rights record

November 4, 2010 Leave a comment

Thu Nov 4, 2010 1:48AM

The WikiLeaks reports contain numerous official accounts of alleged detainee abuse by US-led troops in Iraq.
US President Barack Obama had failed to fulfill his promise to eradicate torture in Iraq and in interrogations of terror suspects, human rights campaigners say.

Representatives of US and international groups also expressed disappointment at Obama administration over its failure in addressing violations committed by the previous administration.

“Many of us would have been much happier two years ago, we expected very much deeper change. The momentum has been lost,” AFP quoted Gerald Staberock of the International Commission of Jurists as saying on Thursday.

Detention of terror suspects and mounting casualties by US drone attacks in Afghanistan amounted to “a grim picture on accountability,” Staberock said.

The activists say the current and previous US administrations should be accountable to all allegations of torture in Iraq and interrogations of terror suspects around the world.

“Not only is justice not being done, it is also prevented from being done,” he pointed out.

“We are now seeing that this administration is becoming an obstacle to achieving accountability in human rights,” said Jamal Dakwar, a director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

Dakwar criticized US government lawyers for defending officials of Bush administration against civil lawsuits brought by torture victims against them in court.

He said the lawyers make efforts to “extinguish” the lawsuits.

“Until today not a single victim of torture has had their day in a US court. This is very sad,” Dakwar added.

Newly-published Iraq war secrets by WikiLeaks have revealed a large number of brutalities against Iraqi civilians, many recounting tales of abuse by coalition forces.

The field reports contain numerous official accounts of alleged detainee abuse by the multi-national troops in war-torn Iraq.

One such document dating back to September 2005 depicts the forces brutally kicking and stoning a farmer over allegations that he was planting an improvised explosive device.

The secret documents published by the whistleblower website over the weekend are a part of the nearly 400,000 classified reports about the US-led invasion of Iraq dating from January 2004 to the end of 2009.

The documents have shed light on a spate of crimes and offences committed in Iraq over the past few years, including rape, assassinations and murders.

The site has also exposed documents on the similar US-led war in Afghanistan and is expected to disclose additional related details.

DB/MGH

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Attn. All Flag-Wavers. You Want War? Pay For It

November 1, 2010 1 comment

By Eric Margolis

October 31, 2010 “Information Clearing House” — NEW YORK – October 29, 2010 — I don’t ever recall seeing such an ugly, dim-witted, childish American election as this coming week’s mid-term vote.
A national frenzy has seized America. Fierce debate and name-calling has raged about job losses, the nation’s growing $12 trillion debt, mandatory health care, socialism – and even witchcraft. Sarah Palin, the patron saint of low IQ Americans, has hovered over this sordid contest like an evil Halloween wraith.

If we believe polls, the Democrats look like toast. President Barack Obama may be ready to join the ranks of the unemployed.

What did Democrats think would happen when they eagerly took over the monumental financial and military mess created by George W. Bush and the Republicans? No wonder Republicans are gleefully rubbing their hands. But now they may be next to get stuck with Bush’s Tar Baby.

Amidst all the low-brow invective, Tom Brokaw, the respected former national news host for NBC News, recently wrote a fine opinion column, “The Wars That America Forgot About.”

He quite rightly asked why the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have been ignored during the election race. After nine years of combat, 5,000 US dead and 35,000 seriously wounded soldiers, and expenditure of over $1 trillion – silence.

These longest and second most expensive wars in US history have dropped off the radar. Not even the latest WikiLeaks shocker, which revealed the US condoning death squads, torture and mass human rights violations in Iraq, became a campaign issue.

No one raised the scandalous fact that US-run Afghanistan and Washington’s political satraps there produce and export 94% of the world’s heroin. Russian drug authorities just claimed that Afghan heroin kills 10,000 Russians annually.

The Iraq and Afghan wars are ignored, Brokaw rightly says, because Americans are totally focused on high unemployment and economic insecurity. America’s wars have become irrelevant.

The US professional military represents less than 1% of the population, mostly working-class people from small towns in America’s rural, poorly-educated heartland.

It’s not like Vietnam War days, when millions of Americans were drafted to serve in the war, creating huge public protests that eventually ended the war.

The US has adopted Imperial Britain’s model of small, all-volunteer armies fighting in remote colonial wars to supposedly bring the light of Christianity and justice to benighted natives.

However, it now costs $1 million per annum to keep each of the 120,000 US troops in Afghanistan. The US has also deployed over 40,000 armed mercenaries in that nation.

Americans have become psychologically detached from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, even as the specter of stalemate or even defeat in both conflicts looms.

Brokaw calls on Americans to re-engage and give their wars the public and politicians the attention they urgently need.

Waging stealth wars it undemocratic and unwise.

During World War II, America’s “Home Front” was engaged in the conflict by war taxes, rationing, buying war bonds, collecting clothing and metal, and accepting shortages of consumer products.

By contrast, President George W. Bush actually cut income taxes in wartime, the only time in US history this has happened.

In an act of profound financial deception, instead of funding the Afghan and Iraq Wars through higher taxes, the Bush White House and subservient Congress financed the wars by “Emergency Supplement Requests,” which were supposed to be only used short-term for natural disasters and the like.

Bush’s view appears to have been, “après moi, le deluge.” He raised the national debt to vertiginous levels, vastly expanded the size of government, increased military spending by 50%, on top of cutting taxes.

The first wave of the deluge came in 2007-2008, as a financial cataclysm hit America. More is on the way as the US stumbles from one financial crisis to another – the latest being bankrupt states and pension funds.

The real $1 trillion plus costs of the wars were quietly added to the $12 trillion national debt, America’s credit card. Funds to finance these huge war loans was borrowed from China and Japan, putting America ever deeper in thrall to the Asian powers, and undermining its finances.

The Obama administration and Democratic-controlled Congress continued Bush’s dishonest method of war finance, hiding costs from the public.

America’s wars should be fully funded through direct taxes. History shows great powers cannot long go on waging imperial wars on credit. Look at Spain, Holland, France, Britain, and the Soviet Union. Which empire do we think will be next?

A special war tax ought to be levied on all Americans to fully cover the mounting costs of Afghanistan and Iraq. We must pay for our wars and world hegemony.

It will be interesting to see how all the flag-waving Republican “patriots” will react when asked to pay for the wars they so passionately support from the safety of their sofas, and at no apparent cost.

Make Americans actually pay for Afghanistan and Iraq and these wars would be ended in short order.

But if Republicans likely retake Congress, it is most unlikely a war tax – or any major new taxes –will be implemented. Republicans have gone from being the party of balanced budgets and pay as you go to a northern version of Argentina’s wild spending Peronista Party.

Right-wing Republicans will press for more war, in more places – financed, of course, by the magic of credit. Few stop to think that this manic borrowing it wrecking America.

Copyright Eric S. Margolis 29 October 2010 – http://www.ericmargolis.com

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Iraq war logs: Apache crew killed insurgents who tried to surrender

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Flickr - The U.S. Army - Promoting air-ground ...

Flickr - The U.S. Army - Promoting air-ground integration

Source article

US military legal adviser told helicopter crew that Iraqi men were valid targets as they could not surrender to aircraft.

A US gunship crew was cleared to attack two insurgents on the ground even though the pilots had reported that the men were trying to surrender, the leaked Iraq war logs reveal.

The Apache helicopter pilots killed both Iraqi men after being advised by a US military lawyer that they could not surrender to an aircraft and therefore remained valid targets. A leading military law expert consulted by the Guardian has questioned this legal advice.

The Guardian can also reveal that the helicopter involved in the incident in 2007 had the same call sign – Crazyhorse 18 – as the Apache whose crew later mistakenly killed two Reuters journalists and injured two children in a notorious shooting in urban Baghdad. The killings drew worldwide condemnation in April this year when WikiLeaks obtained video footage taken from the helicopter’s gun camera and released it on the internet.

It has not been possible to establish whether the same personnel were involved in both attacks.

According to the account of the earlier incident in the leaked logs, the insurgents had jumped out of their truck after it came under fire from the Apache. “They came out wanting to surrender,” Crazyhorse 18 signalled.

Clearance to kill came back from an unnamed lawyer at the nearby Taji airbase. “Lawyer states they can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets,” the log entry says.

After receiving the lawyer’s advice, the pilots reported that the men had by now got back into their truck and were attempting to drive on. The gunship made two attempts to kill the fleeing men, launching a Hellfire missile at the truck.

At first the fresh attack failed. “Individuals have run into another shack,” the crew signalled. As the Apache hovered high in the sky, a few miles north of Baghdad, the pilots viewed a zoomed-in image of the fleeing pair on their video screen.

The crew then received a further specific top-level kill instruction from brigade HQ and made another strafing run, firing bursts from long distance at 300 rounds a minute from the Apache’s 30mm cannon. This time, the gunner succeeded in killing both men.

At 1.03pm on 22 February, just 24 minutes after receiving legal clearance, the crew filed a log entry: “Crazyhorse 18 reports engaged and destroyed shack with 2X AIF [anti-Iraq forces]. Battle damage assessment is shack/dump truck destroyed.”

Crazyhorse 18 was part of the US army‘s 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, normally based at Fort Hood, Texas. Five months after this incident, on 12 July 2007, the crew of an Apache with the same call sign mistakenly killed 22-year-old Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen and his driver, Saeed Chmagh, after opening fire on a group of eight men they believed to be insurgents armed with rocket-propelled grenades and AK47 rifles in a Baghdad suburb.

Two children were badly injured and their father killed when the Apache crew fired armour-piercing shells at a van which arrived on the scene.

The account of the February incident recorded in the classified log suggests the Crazyhorse 18 crew were not trigger-happy, but sought immediate advice from their superiors at all stages of the attack.

Under the 1907 Hague regulations, it is forbidden “to kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion”.

Britain’s own official Ministry of Defence publication, the Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, says there are practical difficulties around surrenders to aircraft, but adds: “With the advent of close-support and ground-attack helicopter units, the surrender of ground troops … has become a more practical proposition.”

One of Britain’s foremost experts on the subject, Professor Sir Adam Roberts, cast doubt on the legal advice given to the Crazyhorse 18 crew. “Surrender is not always a simple matter,” Roberts, emeritus professor of international relations at Oxford University and joint editor of Documents on the Laws of War, told the Guardian. But the reasoning given by the US military lawyer was “dogmatic and wrong”.

“The issue is not that ground forces simply cannot surrender to aircraft,” he said. “The issue is that ground forces in such circumstances need to surrender in ways that are clear and unequivocal.”

However, he added: “If the insurgents did indeed get back into the truck and drove off in the same direction as previously, then they probably acted unwisely, in a way that called into question their act of surrender … The US airmen might legitimately reckon that the truck contained weapons and that the men could be intending to rejoin the fight sooner or later.”

The detailed account of events on that February morning begins with a common occurrence: insurgents near the huge Taji airbase start lobbing rockets and mortar shells, in the hope of killing Americans. US troops return the shelling, and Crazyhorse 18 is dispatched on a mission to see whether the retaliation has had any effect. At 11.34am, three minutes after takeoff, the crew spot the insurgents fleeing their launch site with a mortar and tripod on the back of a Bongo – a light truck manufactured by Kia.

The crew confirm a “positive identification” of the enemy. But it is 13 minutes before the pilots are officially “cleared to engage” with automatic cannonfire by their headquarters.

The Apache opens fire, and two Iraqis fling themselves out of the Bongo as the heavy shells blast the truck and cause its stock of mortar ammunition to “cook off”.

The enemy gunners try to make their escape in a dumper truck, driving northwards. At 12.33pm, the Apache reports that it has fired on the truck, “and then they came out wanting to surrender”.

Two minutes later, “Crazyhorse 18 reports they got back into truck and are heading north”. Four minutes after that: “Crazyhorse 18 cleared to engage dumptruck. 1/227 [1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment] lawyer states they cannot surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets.”

The two Iraqis try to take refuge in a shack. After a 13-minute delay, another instruction appears to come from a remarkably high level: the office of the commander [IH6] of the Ironhorse brigade at Camp Taji.

The signal reads: “IH6 approves Crazyhorse 18 to engage shack.”

After the killing, the helicopter pilots summarise what for them and their superiors has apparently been a successful chase: “Ix engagement with 30mm. 2x AIF killed in action. 1x mortar system destroyed. 1x Bongo truck destroyed with many secondary explosions. 1x dumptruck destroyed. 1x shack destroyed.”

At 1.25pm, their gunship heads home to Taji to refuel and reload with ammunition.

Submitted by dan fey


http://vidrebel.wordpress.com/

 

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Iraq war logs: US Apache guns down surrendering insurgents

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

By Angus Stickler

On February 22 2007, a US helicopter engaged a group of insurgents involved in a mortar attack upon coalition forces, near Baghdad.

After firing a series of 30mm rounds, the crew of the helicopter – callsign “Crazyhorse” – radioed to their command, stating the insurgents “wanted to surrender”. The response was blunt: “CRAZYHORSE cleared to engage … Lawyer stated they cannot surrender to aircraft.”

The Apache crew killed the men.

February 22 2007
CRAZYHORSE reports AIF [Anti-Iraqi Forces] got into a dumptruck headed north, engaged and then they came out wanting to surrender…
CRAZYHORSE cleared to engage dumptruck. 1/227 Lawyer states they can not surrender to aircraft and are still valid targets.

It is one of the reports of most concern.

According to Claude Bruderlein, director of Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University, what is reported in the files about this incident would be a clear breach of international law.

“This idea that you cannot surrender to a helicopter is ridiculous, absolutely unacceptable,” he told the Bureau. “Surrendering is a fundamental principle of the law of armed conflict and you can surrender to aircraft. You cannot attack those that surrender.”

US Apache helicopters in Iraq - TheUSArmy/FlickrUS Apache helicopters in Iraq – The US Army/Flickr

Bruderlein, a former special adviser to the UN Secretary General, cites the allegations as being a clear breach of article three of the fourth Geneva Convention, drawn up in 1949 following the second World War. It states “that non combatants and members of the armed forces who have laid down their arms, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely” and prohibits “violence to life and person”.

According to the files, despite knowing the insurgents wanted to surrender, the crew not only opened fire with a Hellfire missile, but when it missed they actively chased them down to a shack where they had taken refuge. With the approval of their command unit, they opened fire again , killing both.

February 22 2007
CRAZYHORSE reports engaged and destroyed shack with 2x AIF …
CRAZYHORSE continued to observe for approx 20 minutes … CRAZYHORSE is off station to refuel and rearm.

According to Bruderlein, if the allegations are correct, both the crew of the helicopter and the officer who cleared them to engage, would be guilty of war crimes. The lawyer who offered the legal advice would, he believes, not be guilty.

Graphic: Hellfire strikes on Iraq


“S
urrendering is a fundamental principle of the law of armed conflict and you can surrender to aircraft.”
Claude Bruderlein, Harvard University

“Those who use force have the responsibility of their use of force, and the chain of command is the one that’s responsible for the decision. It’s not the lawyer. However, to have a legal adviser expressing the view that the principle doesn’t apply to helicopters is ridiculous.”

Other surrender kills
The Bureau has found another file in the war logs that relates to leaked footage of an Apache helicopter opening fire on a man, who appears to be trying to surrender. The log makes no mention of the fact the man appears to be trying to give himself up:

31 July 2004
After positive identification from UAV “Big Gun 74″ gven authorisation to engage the vehicle. The vehicle engaged and destroyed … 1 X KIZ on side of road. Cleared site and reported: several RPGS, 1X AK-47, 1X 82MM mortar tube with several rounds, 1X tripod. MP and EOD on site.

The video clearly shows the man leaving his car, his hands behind his head.

No legal precedent
There is no legal precedent stating that an enemy combatant cannot surrender to aircraft. According to Bruderlein, once a combatant surrenders they are protected. He says any argument that a helicopter does not have the ability to capture is irrelevant.

“The protection of those who surrender is not linked to the capacity to capture. If you say “well I don’t have the capacity to capture, so you simply kill them all” – this is the end of the principle. As soon as they don’t represent a threat, they are protected.”


Combatants cease to be subject to attack when they have individually laid down their arms to surrender.
Geneva Conventions

A trawl through thousands of files in the war logs has found evidence that other helicopter gunships had the ability to, and accepted, offers of surrender.

In one incident, just over a month prior to the Crazyhorse episode, coalition forces were reported to have engaged a group of insurgents planting an IED:

January 10 2007
LH05 [LIGHTENING HORSE] engaged the white ­truck with 8 rockets … The 2x LNs [Local Nationals] got out ­of the truck and ­surrendered to LH 05. Alternate ­QRF [Quick Reaction Force], responded and ­detained the 2x LNs.

In this case, there were troops on the ground who could detain the surrendering insurgents. But in other cases, when no troops were present, the helicopter crews stayed in position and waited until ground forces arrived.

Another Apache helicopter caused controversy in spring 2010 when Wikileaks released video footage of a helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a dozen civilians, including two Reuters journalists.



:: Article nr. 71055 sent on 23-oct-2010 01:25 ECT
www.uruknet.info?p=71055

Link: www.iraqwarlogs.com/2010/10/22/us-commits-%E2%80%9Cwar-crime%E2%80%9D-as-apache-
helicopter-cleared-to-gun-surrendering-insurgents/

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Iraq war logs: military privatisation run amok

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The Wikileaks logs provide ample evidence of private security contractors entirely unaccountable for lethal rogue actions

    Blackwater contractors, Iraq The Wikileaks Iraq war logs bring to light previously unknown incidents involving military contractors like Blackwater, acting with legal immunity, which resulted in deaths of civilians during the occupation of Iraq. Photograph: Gervasio Sanchez/APShortly after 10am on 14 May 2005, a convoy of private security guards from Blackwater riding down “Route Irish” – the Baghdad airport road – shot up a civilian Iraqi vehicle. While they were at it, the Blackwater men fired shots over the heads of a group of soldiers from the 69th Regiment of the US Army before they sped away heading west in their white armoured truck. When the dust cleared, the Iraqi driver was dead and his wife and daughter were injured.

    A terse, 57-word dispatch in the Iraq war logs published by Wikileaks is the first public evidence of the shooting, as recorded by the US military.

    The incident is one of several dozen “escalation of force” incidents involving private security companies in Iraq – which is military parlance for an unwarranted attack, almost all of which have never been previously reported. Blackwater, the company from Moyock, North Carolina, is responsible for about half of the attacks, closely followed by Erinys, a British private security company registered in the Virgin Islands, which seems to have an unusually high number of vehicle crashes.

    On my four visits to Iraq in the last seven years, I learned quickly to steer clear of the fast-moving vehicles belonging to these private security companies. The men – sporting identical reflective wrap-around sunglasses, bullet-proof jackets – would aim their high-powered assault rifles and shout “Imshi” (“Move”) at any vehicle that came within a 50m perimeter. Sometimes, they would throw plastic water bottles to shock pedestrians into staying away.

    Easily the best-known private security company is Blackwater (recently renamed Xe), which rocketed to fame three years ago when four company security guards, escorting a convoy of US state department vehicles en route to a meeting in western Baghdad, opened fire in Nisour Square in Baghdad killing 17 Iraqi civilians. Yet, a query of the Iraq war logs for “Blackwater” or “Nisour Square” turns up nothing, at first.

    In this failure to identify what is probably the most notorious carnage of Iraqi civilians, the strengths and weakness of the military reporting process (and, by association, Wikileaks) become startlingly clear. Had the media not reported this incident, there would be no way to identify the company or the location in which this massacre took place. Initially, I wondered: was it possible that the soldier who recorded the incident made a mistake or that the record was erased?

    Eventually, I tracked down the incident by trying a few other methods. It is easy to see why I missed the record: there is no mention of the company, or the location, and even the death toll is incorrectly recorded as nine, suggesting that the Pentagon casualty record is incomplete.

    Human rights investigators know this problem only too well. Media reports are often incomplete and government reports are sometimes deliberately vague. They are just a starting point from which painstaking research is needed to build up a true picture of what has happened.

    Quite possibly, there were many more incidents in which civilians were injured, or even killed, which were never reported. Some of the reports may have been altered before they were entered into the military system. But given the other records that I found, at the very least, Wikileaks has revealed that Blackwater and other private security companies are guilty of many more injuries and killings than the media have previously reported.

    Today, there as many as 40,000 armed private security contractors working in Afghanistan and Iraq, according to data collected by Commission on Wartime Contracting staff during the first quarter of 2010.

    Some of them are ill-paid ex-soldiers from countries like Sierra Leone who make just $250 a month; others are former US soldiers, who are paid $500 or more per day. These men are often doing the very same jobs that soldiers once did – like guard duty – but with a lot less accountability.

    Until quite recently, these men with guns were untouchable: they were protected from any kind of prosecution by Coalition Provisional Authority Order No 17, issued by Paul Bremer, the US diplomat charged with running Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

    For example, Andrew J Moonen, a Blackwater employee, who has been accused of killing a guard assigned to an Iraqi vice-president on 24 December 2006, was spirited out of the country and has never faced charges in Iraq. Nor have the five men accused of opening fire in Nisour Square: Donald Ball, Dustin Laurent Heard, Evan Shawn Liberty Nicholas Abram Slatten and Paul Alvin Slough. Lawsuits in the US have also failed.

    Blackwater and Erinys were not the only ones who acted with seeming impunity. Perhaps the most egregious incident occurred on 28 May 2005, when the US Marines came under fire from four white Ford pickup trucks and a grey Excursion sports utility vehicle “recklessly driving through Fallujah traveling west – and firing sporadically at vehicles”.

    The shooters worked for Zapata Engineering, one of five companies originally hired under a $200m contract to supervise the destruction and storage of US military ammunition worldwide. They were paid well for this work: each company manager earned an average of $275,000 a year, under their contract.

    Eventually, one of the Zapata vehicles ran over a spike strip in the road near a guard house under the control of the US Marines. The Marines placed 19 Zapata employees under arrest.

    At the time, Lawrence Peter, the director of the Private Security Company Association of Iraq, told my colleague David Phinney at CorpWatch:

    “I can say without a shadow of a doubt that there is no company named Zapata that is a licensed private security company under the terms of CPA Memorandum 17. I do not know under what legal authority those men thought they were operating, but it was not in keeping with the law of Iraq nor consistent with what professional, responsible and law-abiding private security companies are doing here.”

    But Iraqis cannot tell which of these companies are licensed and which are not. Technically, they could complain to the military or raise the matter with yet another private military company named Aegis Defence from Britain, which was in charge of monitoring the movements of fellow private security contractors, under a $293m contract issued in June 2004. Yet Aegis hardly inspired confidence – one of their employees caused an uproar when he uploaded a video of security contractors shooting at Iraqis, with an Elvis Presley soundtrack to match.

    Things got even worse when the Washington Post published an article about yet another security company named Triple Canopy, in which team leader Jacob C Washbourne was quoted as saying: “I want to kill somebody today.”

    Today, the Pentagon says that the random shootings are a thing of the past. In May 2008, an Armed Contractor Oversight Bureau (ACOB) was set up (pdf) by the US government in Iraq. Unfortunately, there is no website or any other public way to contact this important body.

    Perhaps the most worrying news about private military contractors came on 18 August 2010, when the New York Times revealed that the US government was planning to double the number of private security contractors in Iraq:

    “Defending five fortified compounds across the country, the security contractors would operate radars to warn of enemy rocket attacks, search for roadside bombs, fly reconnaissance drones and even staff quick reaction forces to aid civilians in distress, the officials said.”

    It’s not just Iraqis who are worried. At a hearing in congress on 23 September 2010, Michael Thibault, co-chair of the commission on wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan and a former senior Pentagon auditor, said that he was troubled by the fact that the state department had very little experience to oversee this civilian surge in Iraq:

    “(I)t is not clear that it has the trained personnel to manage and oversee contract performance of a kind that has already shown the potential for creating tragic incidents and frayed relations with host countries.”

    Courtesy Wikileaks, we now know that many more deadly shootings have taken place by these unregulated private security contractors than we knew of before. Given this new knowledge, it is time that we demand an inquiry into the privatisation of the military. Right now, the prime facie evidence is that it has considerably increased the number of unnecessary violent incidents, while reducing military discipline and accountability and costing taxpayers a bundle.

    • Editor’s note: the incident detailed at the top of this article occurred in 2005, not 2004, as was originally stated; all other details are correct, and the article was amended at 12:00 on 24 October 2010.

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