The World From Berlin 'War Logs Highlight US Failure to Probe War Crimes in Iraq'

The Iraq logs published by WikiLeaks convey the brutal reality of a war that claimed over 100,000 lives and traumatized a generation of Iraqi civilians. They also raise fresh questions over why the US justice system has done so little to probe war crimes committed during the conflict, write German commentators.
US soldiers on patrol in Iraq in 2008.

US soldiers on patrol in Iraq in 2008.


The 391,832 classified military documents from the Iraq war published by the WikiLeaks online platform provide a shocking portrayal of the brutality of the conflict and its impact on civilians, embarrass the White House and Pentagon and cast doubt on the integrity of the Iraqi government, write German media commentators.

The logs also highlight the failure of the US justice system to investigate war crimes committed during the George W. Bush administration, commentators say, adding that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has done democracy a service by publishing the logs despite attempts by the US government to intimidate him with unsubstantiated claims that he his putting the lives of soldiers and civilians at risk.

Left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:

"The documents provide evidence of numerous war crimes and other severe US breaches of the Geneva Convention ratified by Washington. According to international law, the US also bears responsibility for the atrocities committed by Iraqis during its occupation. The US justice system has only opened investigations in fewer than five percent of all these cases. Only a handful of lower-ranking people were convicted and in most cases received short prison sentences. The military commanders and the people politically responsible for the crimes right up to President Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney were not called to task. In other countries -- such as Sudan for example -- such a blatant failure of the national justice system would have led to the involvement of the International Criminal Court, which the US has refused to join."

"The US government's reaction to the WikiLeaks publications shows that even President Obama unfortunately isn't prepared or willing to launch the fresh start he had promised in terms of international law and human rights after the eight dark years of the Bush era."

Left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:

"Anyone who believed the words of the military strategists about surgical warfare that supposedly spares civilians thanks to the minimally invasive use of weapons should take a look at these logs. That will make clear that this war didn't just claim lives, probably 150,000 of them. It will also show that others, who knows how many, were brutalized and traumatized, and that for seven years violence triumphed over humanity almost every day, just like it does in every war."

"Many of these details are unpleasant for the White House and the Pentagon, and some of them are embarrassing. But there is nothing to suggest that the publication has endangered the national security of the United States, or that the lives of soldiers or civilians have been put at risk. Wikileaks has not committed high treason but done democracy a service."

"The Iraq war counts among the darkest days of American democracy."

Conservative Die Welt writes:

"One thing is certain: in future such logs will be phrased more vaguely -- or not written at all."

Business daily Financial Tines Deutschland writes:

"Wikileaks has presented evidence of the brutality of the war and has thereby done freedom of information a service. The online platform makes it possible for armies that wage war on behalf of nations to be controlled by the citizens of those countries. The people who run the platform should therefore ignore attempts to intimidate them."

Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"The logs don't fundamentally alter the picture of the war. But they illustrate and confirm what was broadly known about trigger-happy private security firms, the sometimes reckless behavior of US soldiers also against civilians, deadly incidents at checkpoints, the abuse of prisoners or Iran's support for Shiite militia. And initial analyses suggest the number of civilian casualties was higher than estimated so far."

"The biggest damage to the US government is that WikiLeaks has exposed how porous the secrecy of the US military is. Allies and informants will in future hesitate before they share information with the US."

David Crossland
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