191 online
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 5 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds   

Government Files on Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan and Iraq Released Reveal Policy Deception

By ACLU  Posted by Amanda Lang (about the submitter)       (Page 1 of 1 pages)   No comments
Message Amanda Lang

Since U.S. troops first set foot in Afghanistan in 2001, the Defense Department has gone to unprecedented lengths to control and suppress information about the human costs of war. But documents made public by the ACLU this week provide a vivid window into the lives of innocent Afghans and Iraqis caught in conflict zones.

Hundreds of claims for damages by family members of civilians killed by Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan were recovered through a Freedom of Information Act request filed in June 2006. The claims and related materials highlight the cost of government efforts to suppress information, through policies including:

  • Banning photographers on U.S. military bases from covering the arrival of caskets containing the remains of U.S. soldiers killed overseas;
  • Paying Iraqi journalists to write positive accounts of the U.S. war effort;
  • Inviting U.S. journalists to “embed” with military units but requiring them to submit their stories to the military for pre-publication review;
  • Erasing journalists’ footage of civilian deaths in Afghanistan, and
  • Refusing to disclose statistics on civilian casualties.

In Afghanistan in March 2002, then-head of U.S. Central Command General Tommy Franks said “You know we don’t do body counts.” Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said in November 2003, “We don’t do body counts on other people.”

The ACLU released a total of 496 files: 479 from Iraq and 17 from Afghanistan. Of those claims, 198 were denied based on an exemption for combat situations. The documents released by the ACLU are available online in a searchable database at: www.aclu.org/civiliancasualties.

In one file, a civilian from the Salad Ad Din province in eastern Iraq states that U.S. forces opened fire with over one hundred rounds on his sleeping family, killing his mother, father and brother.

“Although these files are deeply disturbing to read, they allow us to understand the human cost of war in a way that the usual statistics and platitudes do not" said Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Director of the ACLU’s National Security Program.

In a separate effort, the ACLU filed a FOIA request in October 2003 for records concerning the abuse of prisoners held by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. That request has resulted in the release of more than 100,000 pages, all of which are available online at: www.aclu.org/torturefoia. Litigation regarding that request is ongoing.


Rate It | View Ratings

Amanda Lang Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

OpedNews volunteer from 2005 to 2013.

Amanda Lang was a wonderful member of the Opednews team, and the first volunteer editor, for a good number of years being a senior editor. She passed away summer 2014.

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact EditorContact Editor
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend