Wikileaks has released nearly 400,000 classified US military documents involving the Iraq War, defying warnings from the US government that disclosing the documents would put lives at risk.
Dubbed "the Iraq War Logs." the documents were posted to the whistleblower site at around 21:00 GMT on Friday, after they were released to various news organizations across the globe. According to the The Guardian, the documents show that US commanders ignored evidence of torture by Iraqi police and soldiers and that more than 15,000 civilians died in incidents that weren't previously reported.
Though US officials have said that they kept no official record of civilian deaths, the leaked documents also show that 66,081 civilian died among a total of 109,000 war fatalities, according to The Guardian. The UK paper also reports that a US Apache helicopter crew killed two insurgents on the ground although the men tried to surrender and that the crew was cleared to do so by a US military legal advisor.
It's believed that the document came from the same source that leaked roughly 92,000 classified documents involving the Afghan war to Wikileaks earlier this year, About 77,000 of those were posted to the site, drawing strong criticism from the Pentagon, which said that the leak would endanger Afghan civilians who cooperated with the US military.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declined to comment on today's leak specifically. But she said the government "should condemn in the most clear terms the disclosure of any information by individuals and or organizations which puts the lives of United States and its partners' service members and civilians at risk."
Defense department press secretary Geoff Morrell was more direct. "We deplore WikiLeaks for inducing individuals to break the law, leak classified documents and then cavalierly share that secret information with the world, including our enemies," he said in a statement.
"We know terrorist organizations have been mining the leaked Afghan documents for information to use against us, and this Iraq leak is more than four times as large. By disclosing such sensitive information, WikiLeaks continues to put at risk the lives of our troops, their coalition partners and those Iraqis and Afghans working with us. The only responsible course of action for WikiLeaks at this point is to return the stolen material and expunge it from their Web sites as soon as possible."
The 391,832 US Army Sigacts (Significant Actions) reports outed by Wikileaks document the war from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009 – though reports for two months are not included in the leak. You can read more from Al Jazeera here and The New York Times here. ®