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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs