Five bombshells from WikiLeaks' Iraq war documents

In the largest document leak in US history, WikiLeaks has released more than 400,000 secret US documents about the Iraq war. As with the second-largest leak in US history – the 92,000 Afghan war documents released in July – much of the substance of the leaks has been reported already, but details are new.

Click through the following slides to learn what the documents reveal.

1. Details of torture and abuse

Thaier al-Sudani/Reuters
Detainees wait before they are released from al-Rusafa prison in Baghdad on April 29, 2010. About 120 detainees were released after they were found innocent, according to Baghdad's security spokesman Major General Qassim al-Moussawi.

The WikiLeaks documents reveal numerous cases of torture and abuse of Iraqi prisoners by Iraqi police and soldiers, according to the Qatar-based news agency Al Jazeera, which was given early access to the cache. "It was one of the stated aims of the war to end the torture chambers. But the secret files reveal a very different story. In graphic detail they record extensive abuse at Iraqi police stations, Army bases, and prisons."

US troops reported the abuse to their superiors on more than 100 occasions, according to the documents, but the military – at the highest levels – ordered troops not to intervene.

The Monitor has detailed the alleged torture and abuses that have continued in Iraqi prisons since the fall of Saddam Hussein.

"What I consider humane treatment of prisoners, is not what [Iraqi prison guards] would consider humane treatment," Lt. Col. Shaun Reed, commander of a Baquba-based US infantry unit, whose work with Iraqi security forces has exposed him to Iraqi prison conditions, told the Monitor in 2009. He said it's hard to change prison workers accustomed to brutality. "If you ask Iraqis what they think – it's completely different."

Indeed, a December 2008 report by the New York-based watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) went as far as to assert a "disturbing continuity" with Saddam Hussein-era detention.

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