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UN Wants Probe of Wikileaks Torture Revelations: Iraq War Crimes and Media Response

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Saturday: This afternoon I went to see the documentary Nuremburg about the trial of Nazi leaders that took place after World War 2. The film was suppressed for many years, and has been "reconstructed" and finally released. The trial was conducted by the allies -- The US, France, Britain and the Soviet Union with support from 15 other countries. The tribunal found top Nazi leaders guilty. Most were hung, but a few drew prison sentences and others were acquitted. The German military that fought the war was not convicted.

Many of us may think that the tribunal was about the holocaust, but the killing of the Jews was only one element, perhaps given more prominence in this remake, funded in part by Steven Spielberg and holocaust remembrance organizations, than it was at the time. The Judges were mostly focused on the crime of an illegal Aggressive War and the war crimes it led to. It did not look into who funded the Nazis and in many ways the final verdict was the result of political bargaining. The focus was only on the top guys they caught. Most of the Nazi operatives got off.

Significantly, when the US held a war crimes trial in Tokyo, with just one power, not four, imposing "justice" the rules were far stricter and condemned soldiers who knew crimes were being committed but did nothing.

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The Tokyo Tribunal under sole US control imposed a higher standard and more were sentenced to die.

Is this experience at all relevant to the preemptive war waged against Iraq, the crimes of which are slowly coming to light because of Wikileaks? Is there a case to be made for a war crimes prosecution of the United States? At least one person in the theater shouted out afterward, "Bush Should Have Been Tried."

Aren't we supposed to remember the lessons of history so they won't be repeated?


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Wikileaks has just published The Iraq War Logs, described as "the largest classified military leak in history."

The 391,832 reports document the war and occupation in Iraq, from 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2009 (except for the months of May 2004 and March 2009) as told by soldiers in the United States Army. Each is a "SIGACT' or Significant Action in the war. They detail events as seen and heard by the US military troops on the ground in Iraq and are the first real glimpse into the secret history of the war that the United States government has been privy to throughout. The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 "civilians"; 23,984 "enemy" (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 "host nation" (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 "friendly" (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths.That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six-year period.

The Guardian is among the first news orgs to publish analysis, and leads with the statement that the files show how the US turned a blind eye to torture in Iraq, and "expose serial abuse of detainees, 15,000 previously unknown deaths, and a full toll of Iraq's five years of carnage."

The archive is alleged to have been sourced from Pfc. Bradley Manning, the same US army intelligence analyst who is believed to have also leaked a smaller cache of 90,000 logs chronicling incidents in the Afghan war. According to the Guardian's early analysis, the new logs detail how:

WORLD MEDIA FOCUSES ON TORTURE, BUT NOT THE NY TIMES. They Played Up The Story, Downplayed its Findings, Focused More on Charges of Iraqi Abuses and Iranian intervention. Here's how the Times Played it The New York Times Torture Euphemism Generator!

Rob Beschizza writes on BoingBoing:

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Reading the NYT's stories about the Iraq War logs, I was struck by how it could get through such gruesome descriptions fingers chopped off, chemicals splashed on prisoners without using the word "torture." For some reason the word is unavailable when it is literally meaningful, yet is readily tossed around for laughs in contexts where it means nothing at all. It turns out the NYT has a reputation for studiously avoiding the word, to the point of using bizarre bureaucratic alternatives.

It must be awfully hard work inventing these things. So I thought I'd help out by putting together a torture euphemism generator that the New York Times' reporters can use to help avoid the T-word in their thumb removal and acid bath coverage.

Dissing Julian

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at See

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