The Internet platform WikiLeaks has published almost 400,000 documents on the Iraq war on its website. This is said to be previously classified material from the US armed forces and the secret service from the period from January 1, 2004 to December 31, 2009. If the information is correct, then it is the largest disclosure of secret information in US history. Most of the documents were written by young field officers. WikiLeaks did not provide any details about the origin of the files.

Helpless US Army

The documents had been leaked to various media in advance, including the "New York Times", the British daily "Guardian", the "Spiegel" and the Arab television station Al Jazeera. The "New York Times" spoke of a "drastic portrait" of the war. Der Spiegel wrote that the documents from 2004 to 2009 showed how Iraqi society had been brutalized by the war. Kidnapping, executions and torture of prisoners have become routine. In addition, the documents apparently demonstrate the helplessness of the US Army in the face of the increasingly chaotic situation in Iraq.

Torture allegations not pursued

In sober, dry military language, the documents describe thousands of battles with insurgents, bomb attacks and vehicle breakdowns. It is the many details that make up the effect of the documents. The military documents suggest that US forces have often failed to investigate serious allegations of abuse against Iraqi security forces.

Numerous cases are listed in which US soldiers documented indications of ill-treatment, torture and murder by Iraqi security forces, reported them to their superiors and then closed the case. The reports now published include at least 300 such incidents. According to the New York Times, the Americans did not follow the torture leads. The Guardian also wrote that the US authorities had failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and murder involving Iraqi police officers and soldiers.

The documents published by WikiLeaks apparently also testify to previously unknown incidents in which more than 15,000 civilians were killed. As the "Guardian" wrote, there is, among other things, information about a US helicopter crew that killed Iraqi insurgents, although they tried to surrender.

Subjective, not verifiable

The documents – US soldiers’ field reports – are not objective. Are one-sided and not verifiable. Nevertheless, there is great global interest in the documents. The WikiLeaks website was temporarily overloaded. The start page was still accessible, but not the area with the Iraq reports (Iraq War Logs).

Furious US government

The US government had already reacted before the publication – with angry protests and warnings. Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan called WikiLeaks a "dishonorable institution". WikiLeaks’ "only responsible action" now would be to return the "stolen material" immediately and delete it from their website as soon as possible. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saw the lives of US soldiers at risk.

WikiLeaks justifies publication

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange defended the publication. The documents revealed clear evidence of war crimes, he said at a press conference in London. They are also edited in such a way that nobody is endangered. Already through the Publication of the documents on the Afghanistan war nobody was harmed.

The Iraqi government reacted coolly to the publication. The documents published on the Internet contained "not a single evidence that the Iraqi government or Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki behaved personally unpatriotically," said a statement on behalf of the government.

The Iraq war began in March 2003 with the invasion of the USA, Great Britain and allied states. Germany, France and Russia opposed the so-called coalition of the willing. The invasion took place without legitimation from the UN Security Council. US President Barack Obama officially declared war over on August 31, 2010.