Wikileaks Iraq: A Quick Summary

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The big reveal from the hundreds of thousands of documents posted on Wikileaks today is probably going to be the incredibly awful reports of systematized detainee abuse by Iraqi soldiers and security forces right under the noses of the American-led coalition, which appears to have had virtually no incentive to put a stop to them.

An operational order called Frago 242 was sent to commanders in 2004, ordering, in essence, that only detainee abuse allegations involving coalition forces would be investigated. The rest would merely be noted. And noted they were, in horrifying detail. The New York Times correctly calls this an "institutional shrug."  By 2009, the coalition policy had evidently changed, and allegations were investigated.

There is little in the logs that detail coalition abuse of prisoners, and virtually no reporting on civilian casualties caused by coalition actions, aside from routine after-action reviews, which show confusion about rules of engagement and how easily cultural misunderstandings led to civilian deaths. In other words: war, poorly executed and planned.

The coalition estimates that 100,000 people died because of the war, with 66,000 of counted as civilians.

It's no surprise that Iran has done its best to break apart the relationship between the U.S. and the nascent Iraqi government. The logs reveal in detail that the Revolutionary Guards and the Quds Force brought to Iraq Hezbollah fighters trained in Lebanon. Documents reveal numerous U.S. Special Forces operations against Iranian agents.

The documents suggest that the U.S. spent an inordinate amount of time fighting Hezbollah and Iranian proxies and got distracted from fighting Shiite militias and Al Qaeda before the Surge.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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