As Army Documents Reveal the Costs of War, ACLU Sues Pentagon for Records
In a new lawsuit, the ACLU is demanding that the Department of Defense (DoD) comply with our Freedom of Information Act request for documents regarding civilians killed by coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The secrecy that surrounds the human costs of these wars keeps Americans from knowing what is being done in our name," said Nasrina Bargzie, an attorney in ACLU's National Security Project. "When the exigencies of war and the Pentagon’s policies interfere with the free flow of information, we must rely on our own government’s documents and records to help Americans make informed decisions." Army documents already released to the ACLU give evidence of coalition involvement in countless incidents of civilian casualties and deaths. The nearly 10,000 pages released under FOIA include court martial proceedings and other military reports on the possible wrongful death of Iraqi and Afghan civilians.
One court martial report describes a U.S. soldier who shot an Iraqi prisoner at close range in the head. Prior to the shooting, the soldier had told another soldier that he wanted to shoot the prisoner, who was captured after a battle. The second soldier told him not to, but minutes later heard the shot. The first soldier was tried by court martial and acquitted by a jury of officers and enlisted men.
Another file describes an investigation into the killing of two Afghan men allegedly shot and killed while fleeing U.S. soldiers. While noting that the investigators had declined to exhume the bodies or obtain a copy of the local police report on the incident, the investigation concluded that there was "insufficient evidence to prove if [four Special Forces soldiers] committed the offense of Murder."
The ACLU has also secured the release of more than 100,000 government documents concerning the abuse of prisoners held by U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay, based on a FOIA request initially filed in 2003.
Learn more about the ACLU's efforts to obtain information on the human costs of war in Iraq and Afghanistan: http://www.aclu.org/civiliancasualties
ACLU staff attorney Nasrina Bargzie, retired Army colonel Michael Pheneger and Chris Hedges of The Nation discuss the revelations in the Army documents released under FOIA: Listen to it here.