Debate continues about the massive number of Wikileaks documents released last week providing detailed field reports from the front lines in Afghanistan. While much of the public discussion is focused on the source of the leak and whether it was a justifiable act, we here at IVAW feel that the media should be focusing on something else.
What stands out to us at IVAW is the regular, seemingly commonplace occurance of civilian death depicted in the body of Wikileaks documents.
These documents reveal the truth about the bloody battle for Afghanistan, characterized by lengthy and repeated deployments by our troops and exposure to human trauma by both soldiers and Afghan people on a mass scale. With all the talk of timetables for withdrawal, we know that the human trauma of these wars has no end in sight. Yet, this trauma is too often sanitized by the time it reaches the public view.
That is why IVAW is partnering with the Institute for Public Accuracy to expose the details of incidents depicted in the leaked field reports by Wikileaks.
In a recent interview on Democracy Now, Wikileaks' founder, Julian Assange put out a call: "We really need the public, other journalists and especially former soldiers to go through this material and say, 'Look, this connects to that,' or 'I was there. Let me tell you what really happened. Let me tell you the rest of the detail.' And over the next few days, we'll be putting up easier- and easier-to-use search interfaces, the same ones that our journalistic teams use to extract this data."
These search tools will allow any soldier or veteran to look through the trove of documents on Wikileaks and find reports of incidents they were involved in to check for their accuracy and provide more details.
IVAW members are answering the call to humanize these 'war incidents.' Right now, we are mobilizing our membership to look through the relevant Wikileaks materials, and provide additional information for the public. Four members have already come forward with their stories and are speaking to members of the media.
On Monday, the Netherlands became the first NATO ally to remove all of its troops from Afghanistan. At a time when the global public is increasingly turning against the war, your donation today will help us continue this important work.
The White House and the Pentagon are decrying this latest leak as potentially endangering the lives of those presently on the ground in Afghanistan. Admiral Mike Mullen, Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff stated recently that Wikileaks and its leak source "might already have on their hands the blood of some young soldier or that of an Afghan family." Yet, he does not question the blood on the hands of our government from the thousands of civilians killed in Afghanistan.
When Wikileaks released its "Collateral Murder" video in April that depicted the killing of Reuters journalists and other civilians, IVAW members Josh Stieber and Ethan McCord who served in that unit spoke out. And before that, IVAW members told their stories through our Winter Soldier testimonies. As veterans who have to live with what we were part of in Afghanistan and Iraq on a daily basis, speaking out about it is our solemn duty. By doing so, we hope that other soldiers will come forward and do the same.
Your help today will allow more soldiers and veterans to continue changing the Afghanistan war from an abstraction to a reality for the American and global public.
Thank you for your support.
Iraq Veterans Against the War