On October 22, 2010 the website Wikileaks released over 400,000 classified documents. The information contained extensively detailed, horrendous accounts of widespread civilian death, torture, and the government’s active suppression of the information. Some of the particularly nauseating incidents detailed in the document include American forces knowingly turning Iraqi prisoners over to the Iraqi army so that they could be tortured. Prisoners were also beaten with metal rods and wire cables, electrocuted, and in some cases summarily executed. It’s difficult to imagine a more devastating situation than the revelation of systematic war crimes knowingly committed and hidden by our own government.
As an American citizen and as a human being, I feel the need to hold my government accountable for committing heinously brutal acts in my name. I am appalled at the murderous legacy that my government has committed and the resulting damage of it. I believe that it is our civic duty to stand up and demand that those responsible for the devastation inflicted on the world in our names be brought to justice.
According to US code on war crimes concurrent with the Geneva Convention, any person complicit in committing serious bodily injury is guilty of war crimes. If the United States were to follow the universal system of justice prescribed at the Nuremburg trials, the revelations in Wikileaks would be fully investigated by the justice department and those responsible would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
Unfortunately, President Obama and his administration have displayed a tragic willingness to allow past crimes to go unpunished. The U.S. justice department has already dropped all charges against John Yoo, architect of the barbaric pro-torture policies of the Bush administration. In the United Kingdom, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for an investigation into the role that British soldiers may have played in some of the allegations, in spite of the fact that only two of the incidents described in the document involve British troops. The main party responsible, the U.S. justice system, has remained silent on the issue.
We live in a culture of political expediency, where the logical, moral and ethical courses of action are seldom taken. Such was the case when Richard Nixon was pardoned by Gerald Ford and is the case today when the Bush war criminals are given a free pass. The only option left, the only way to break through the silence, would be for the people of this country to rise up in outrage against this injustice and demand of their elected representatives an investigation. Wikileaks founder Julian Assange confidently predicted such an occurrence, saying of the American populace, “I expect they will see the extensive range of abuses, and if they are intelligent they will say, ‘This will not happen again; we will put in procedures to stop these abuses, to stop this.’” For the sake of our country’s future, let’s hope that he’s right.