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Following is the text of the statement of the Devil’s advocate:
I’m the devil’s advocate and in this episode I’m going to defend the US government’s position regarding the recent WikiLeaks controversy and the brouhaha surrounding it.
First of all, these leaked files were to be made public. I do not have any date or time to give but depending upon the classification level and document type, a release can be made in as few as 10 years, or remain clandestine for as many as 50. My client, the government of the United States of America, firmly believes that no secret can or should last forever. There is no justification for every properly-classified US govt document to remain in darkness.
We have not yet assessed the damage caused by the first instalment of WikiLeaks which was carried out in August this year. Around 77,000 US military documents about the war in Afghanistan were leaked that compromised many state secrets.
As for our war in Afghanistan, we have always maintained that we take very seriously the deaths of civilians at the hands of our soldiers and investigate the circumstances behind them. However, it is not always possible for us to avoid such damage as some people give refuge to the enemy and risk the lives of everyone around them. We intend to give freedom to every single Afghan if they have the thirst for it. We know that a ‘considerable’ number of Afghans have died following our raids but we firmly believe that the future generations of Afghans will consider it worth the price of freedom.
Coming back to the attack on our freedom operations this time, nearly 400,000 classified military documents detailing our military activities and events in Iraq over a five-year period from 2004 to 2009 were released. We see this as the largest single attack on our legitimate interests in Iraq that also puts at risk our military personnel in the country as well as worldwide particularly in the Middle East. The WikiLeaks people have demonstrated their ill-intentions and sheer irresponsibility by deciding to publish what were U.S. State secrets.
On 31st of August this year, Commander-in-Chief Barack Obama announced the withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq. We have made it clear that American forces are not involved in combat operations in Iraq anymore. Anyone who questions our training operations in Iraq and try to give them combat or aggressive colour is a liar and would be taken to task by all means. We do assist the Iraqis from time-to-time but the nature of the cooperation cannot be revealed at this moment. We expect reporters, especially our American journalists, do realise the nature of our current operations in Iraq and will carry on reporting our vital assistance and training of the Iraqi army in their publications.
We condemn WikiLeaks for giving the world an impression that the vast majority of Iraqi civilian deaths, which, according to some estimates is around 66,000, occurred as a result of U.S.-led invasion and military operations. We categorically deny such baseless assumptions and want to make it clear that the deaths occurred were the result of Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence and did not involve US or coalition forces.
The only fact that stands true is the fact that our forces in Iraq have given freedom to the Iraqi people by liberating them from the tyranny of Saddam’s terror regime and disarming the country to make it peaceful for the whole region, especially for its neighbours.
The WikiLeaks indicates in the leaked documents that a ‘significant’ number of Iraqi civilians were killed at US/Coalition checkpoints. This is hardly a new allegation. The figure of 681 civilians killed, as put by the leaked documents, needs to be investigated thoroughly by the US military authorities. However, we do deplore civilian casualties and take the issue very seriously. We do want to highlight the difficulties in Iraq which is a hotbed of al-Qaeda led terrorism that not only attack our forces but also innocent Iraqi civilians.
Our detractors must understand that our brave soldiers are performing essentially police duties in the midst of a population that does not understand our language and do not communicate effectively with our troops. We have also confronted difficulties from people who are bent to reverse the gains we have made our the years and uproot the nascent Iraqi democracy.
We have to be careful about the terrorists, who often carry out suicide bombings and vehicle-borne explosive attacks under the garb of civilians and cause maximum damage to our troops and to our Iraqi allies. There have been notable incidents when we managed to thwart attacks by these terrorists that intended to inflict massive death and destruction.
Today’s Iraqi society is far from perfect. The mission we started in March 2003, to rid the country of Saddam and his al-Qaeda allies is far from over. The US army, along with the Iraqi army and police, works day and night to check the activities of the terrorists and eliminate them to make the country a free and fair democratic society.
We are very disturbed by the allegations that our valiant forces did not intervene or were not allowed to intervene to stop the excesses of the Iraqi security forces in shape of torture and mistreatment of the Iraqi detainees. Our troops were forthcoming and brave about the abuses. They documented as well as reported torture and other inhuman practices to their high command. The US higher command stays in constant touch with the Iraqi command to make sure that the rights of illegal combatants are safeguarded under the counter-insurgency guidelines. Our troops respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi government and take all make efforts to continue our role as assisting and safeguarding the new-born Iraqi democracy.
The roughly 1,300 incidents catalogued in the leaked documents point finger to the important fact that US personnel did not see torture but the evidence of torture. We’ve seen some detainees with obvious marks of abuse, presence of torture instruments in Iraqi police stations and prisons and complaints of abuse by detainees themselves. However, sticking to our military protocol, reports went through our chain of command and the higher ups of the US army proceeded with formal investigation of such reports.
Your honour, it seems very hypocritical to me to suggest that it was the fault of the American troops in Iraq of not thoroughly investigating and punishing the elements behind the prisoner abuse. We denounce people who brand us an ‘unwanted’ military occupation and show that we are trampling on the sovereign rights of Iraqis. How can our professional troops deal with an outdated Iraqi system that relies heavily on torture and rights abuses at every level? Honestly speaking, do our detractors expect us to have taken over every police station in the country and indite and try those suspected of inhuman treatment of Iraqi detainees? Do we really possess the necessary means, resources and mandate?
The leaks is nothing but a smear campaign by the people who have a dubious past and a suspicious present. We are totally aware of the fact that our freedom operations in Iraq and Afghanistan come routinely under spineless criticism by people who rely on lies and propaganda. We urge on responsible journalists to come forward and purge such pseudo-journalists who are tirelessly involved in maligning our values for freedom and justice. We are thankful for their cooperation and extend our best wishes in their quest to spread the values of freedom of speech and expression across the globe.
My client would not like to comment on the criminal proceedings against Mr. Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. However, we do believe that the courts must take charges of sexual violence very seriously and stern punishments must be handed out to criminals to deter violence against women in future.
I would like to end my statement by making it clear that leaks of properly-classified information harms our national security interests. Such leaks paint a picture that is not consistent with the facts on the ground and our delegitimise our interests in the country in particular and the region in general.
I strongly believe that history is the best predictor of the future and that historians will look at our achievements for Iraqi democracy with awe and admiration.
Your honour, my client wholeheartedly condemns WikiLeaks for illegitimately publishing the information that is intended to demoralise our troops and reset their moral compass. It also intended to destabilise our allies, the democratic forces in Iraq, and stab deeply in the heart of the fledgling Iraqi democracy. The American government will pursue its agenda that is based on bringing freedom and liberty to a region that is known for autocratic regimes that have sown terror and fear in the hearts of peace-loving people. May God help the United States of America.