Wikileaks may have been sitting on a particularly disturbing report:
A U.S. diplomatic cable made public by WikiLeaks suggests that U.S. troops executed at least 10 Iraqi civilians, including a woman in her 70s and a 5-month-old infant, then called in an airstrike to destroy the evidence, during a controversial 2006 incident in the central Iraqi town of Ishaqi.
The unclassified cable, which was posted on WikiLeaks’ website last week, contained questions from a United Nations investigator about the incident, which had angered local Iraqi officials, who demanded some kind of action from their government. U.S. officials denied at the time that anything inappropriate had occurred.
But Philip Alston, the UN’s special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said in a communication to American officials dated 12 days after the March 15, 2006, incident that autopsies performed in the Iraqi city of Tikrit showed that all the dead had been handcuffed and shot in the head. Among the dead were four women and five children. The children were all 5 years old or younger.
Claims of American troops committing atrocities were very common, but few of them appear to have been anything other than Al Qaeda propaganda exercises. This may well be another case of this, but the initial investigation implied otherwise:
The original incident report was signed by an Iraqi police colonel and made even more noteworthy because U.S.-trained Iraqi police, including Brig. Gen. Issa al Juboori, who led the coordination centre, were willing to speak about the investigation on the record even though it was critical of American forces.
Throughout the early investigation, U.S. military spokesmen said that an Al Qaeda in Iraq suspect had been seized from a first-floor room after a fierce fight that had left the house he was hiding in a pile of rubble.
But the diplomatic cable provides a different sequence of events and lends credence to townspeople’s claims that American forces destroyed the house after its residents had been shot.