The American Civil Liberties Union today made public hundreds of claims for damages by family members of civilians killed or injured by Coalition Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The ACLU received the records in response to a Freedom of Information Act request it filed in June 2006.
The hundreds of files provide a vivid snapshot, in significantly more detail than has previously been compiled and released, of the circumstances surrounding reports of civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan.[..]
The ACLU pointed out that during both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense Department has instituted numerous policies designed to control information about the human costs of war. These policies include:
- Banning photographers on U.S. military bases from covering the arrival of caskets containing the remains of U.S. soldiers killed overseas;
- Paying Iraqi journalists to write positive accounts of the U.S. war effort;
- Inviting U.S. journalists to "embed" with military units but requiring them to submit their stories for pre-publication review;
- Erasing journalists' footage of civilian deaths in Afghanistan; and
- Refusing to disclose statistics on civilian casualties.
The files made public today are claims submitted to the U.S. Foreign Claims Commissions by surviving Iraqi and Afghan family members of civilians said to have been killed or injured or to have suffered property damages due to actions by Coalition Forces. The ACLU released a total of 496 files: 479 from Iraq and 17 from Afghanistan. The documents released by the ACLU are available online in a searchable database at www.aclu.org/civiliancasualties