News / USA

US Denies Downplaying Iraq Civilian Deaths, Condoning Prisoner Abuse

US Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey (file photo)
US Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey (file photo)

The U.S. Army general who commanded coalition forces in Iraq for 2 1/2 years denied allegations on Monday based on the WikiLeaks documents published last week that his forces undercounted Iraqi civilian casualties and condoned the abuse of prisoners by Iraqi forces.

General George Casey, who is now Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, says troops under his command in Iraq did not intentionally underreport the number of civilians who were killed during his tenure, from mid-2004 until early 2007. "I don't recall downplaying civilian casualties.  In fact, we actively went out and tried to count civilian casualties, to the extent we actually sent leaders, soldiers, down to the morgues in Baghdad to count civilian casualties," he said.

Casey was responding to a reporter's questions about information in the nearly 400,000 secret U.S. military documents published on Friday by the Internet website WikiLeaks.  

News organizations that were able to study the material for weeks before it was published say the documents contain reports of thousands more civilian casualties - mostly from insurgent attacks - than the U.S. military has acknowledged.

General Casey says it was important for him to know the extent and cause of the deaths. "We actively went out and tried to understand the impact of both our actions and the militia group actions on civilians.  You've heard about 'protecting the population.'  That wasn't a new idea.  We had to understand the impact of, again, our operations and the insurgent operations on civilians," he said.

During the time General Casey was in command in Iraq, the insurgency grew and the security situation deteriorated.  Analysts have criticized him for having the wrong strategy and for giving the new Iraqi forces too much responsibility before they were ready to handle it.

The WikiLeaks documents indicate that resulted in routine abuse of insurgents captured by Iraqi forces, or who were turned over to them by coalition troops.

News reports on the documents say the U.S. troops reported the abuses only to Iraqi officers, and imply that was not a sufficiently strong response.

General Casey disagrees, saying that his troops did not turn "a blind eye" on Iraqi abuses. "That's just not the case.  Our policy all along was when American soldiers encountered prisoner abuse, it was to stop it and then report it immediately up the U.S. chain of command and up the Iraqi chain of command.  And we were very strong with that," he said.

Prisoner abuse is a war crime, and the implication in recent news reports is that U.S. troops were complicit in such activity by not doing enough to stop it.

The WikiLeaks documents provide evidence through real time battlefield reporting that tends to support several key U.S. government claims, including that Iranian agents provided high-technology weapons and training to Iraqi insurgents and that most Iraqi civilian casualties were caused by insurgent attacks.

On the issue of prisoner abuse, they revive old questions about whether U.S. troops gave unprepared Iraqi forces too much authority and autonomy, creating a situation in which prisoners were abused.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs