Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks on Friday released nearly 400,000 classified US military files chronicling the Iraq war from 2004 through 2009, the largest leak of its kind in US military history.
The documents themselves are known at the Pentagon as 'SIGACTs,' raw field reports chronicling "Significant Action" in the conflict as seen by US forces on the ground in Iraq.
According to an initial review of the documents and reports by other media that have had access to them for at least 10 weeks, the broad themes from the "Iraq war log" attracting the most attention are: prisoner abuse, civilian deaths, the Iranian influence on militants in Iraq, Blackwater's involvement in civilians' killing, and Iran's detention of American hikers.
Besides accusations to US authorities of abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi police, WikiLeaks says there are also cases of abuse of prisoners in US custody. WikiLeaks' reports detailed 109,032 deaths in Iraq, composed of 66,081 'civilians,' 23,984 'enemy' (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 'host nation' (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 'friendly' (coalition forces).
Britain's Bureau of Investigative Journalism says it found documents detailing new cases of alleged wrongful killings of civilians involving Blackwater. Blackwater is a firm that has now changed its name to Xe Services and that saw its reputation badly damaged by a 2007 incident in which its security guards were involved in a shooting that killed 14 civilians.
Documents in the WikiLeaks file also show that US officials privately believed the three American hikers detained in Iraq last year were on the Iraqi side of the border, not in Iran as Tehran contends. Iran is still holding two of them and the document says Iranian leadership hoped to benefit from the incident by focusing the nation "on a perceived external threat rather than internal dissension."