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Anger over Wikileaks' Iraq can of worms

Anger over Wikileaks' Iraq can of worms
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Outrage continues to come from all quarters after the latest revelations on the Iraq war by Wikileaks.

Military documents that claim British and American troops either actively tortured prisoners, or failed to stop Iraqi soldiers doing so, have incensed human rights groups who are demanding allegations of a large-scale cover-up be investigated.

Phil Shiner, of the Public Interests Lawyers group, said after the secret documents were released:

“US and UK forces cannot turn a blind eye on the basis that it wasn’t their soldiers doing the torturing and that’s what has happened and is revealed in these logs. Both states have the clearest of international obligations to take definite and effective action to stop the torture by the Iraqis. That they did not makes them complicit.”

The allegations include claims that up to 700 civilians were shot by coalition forces at check points, and that the true scale of the civilian death toll in the war was downplayed. The British Deputy Prime Minister has said the accusations are “extremely serious” and “need to be looked at.”

Washington has yet to give a clear response to the allegations and any eventual enquiry. But the White House has been forthcoming in denouncing what it says is the “irresponsible” actions of Wikileaks for putting classified military information in the public domain.

That view is shared in military circles and among those US soldiers still in Iraq. Private First Class David Service, whose unit is serving in a non-combat role in Kirkuk said:

“I don’t think anyone who’s managed to get access to classified information should share it, as far as regards the safety of the soldiers or other people it could be affecting.”

As for the Iraqi leadership, it is angry with the timing of the leaks, which Prime Minister Al-Maliki says is intended to ruin his efforts of forming a new government.

Proven cases of torture and mistreatment of detainees already exist.

But Wikileaks continues to open up cans of worms and its founder has promised more documents soon, with the focus this time back on Afghanistan.