Chelsea Manning Warned of Nuri al-Maliki’s Corruption in 2010. David Petraeus’ Subordinates Silenced Her.

In early 2010, Chelsea Manning discovered that a group of people Iraq’s Federal Police were treating as insurgents were instead trying to call attention to Nuri al-Malki’s corruption. When she alerted her supervisors to that fact, they told her to “drop it,” and instead find more people who were publishing “anti-Iraqi literature” calling out Maliki’s corruption.

On 27 February 2010, a report was received from a subordinate battalion. The report described an event in which the FP detained fifteen (15) individuals for printing “anti-Iraqi literature.” By 2 March 2010, I received instructions from an S3 section officer in the 2-10BCT Tactical Operations Center to investigate the matter, and figure out who these “bad guys” were, and how significant this event was for the FP.

Over the course of my research, I found that none of the individuals had previous ties with anti-Iraqi actions or suspected terrorist or militia groups. A few hours later, I received several photos from the scene from the subordinate battalion.


I printed a blown up copy of the high-resolution photo, and laminated it for ease of storage and transfer. I then walked to the TOC and delivered the laminated copy to our category 2 interpreter. She reviewed the information and about a half-hour later delivered a rough written transcript in English to the S2 section.

I read the transcript, and followed up with her, asking for her take on its contents. She said it was easy for her to transcribe verbatim since I blew up the photograph and laminated it. She said the general nature of the document was benign. The documentation, as I assessed as well, was merely a scholarly critique of the then-current Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki. It detailed corruption within the cabinet of al-Maliki’s government, and the financial impact of this corruption on the Iraqi people.

After discovering this discrepancy between FP’s report, and the interpreter’s transcript, I forwarded this discovery, in person to the TO OIC and Battle NCOIC.

The TOC OIC and, the overhearing Battlecaptain, informed me they didn’t need or want to know this information any more. They told me to “drop it” and to just assist them and the FP in finding out where more of these print shops creating “anti-Iraqi literature” might be. I couldn’t believe what I heard, (24-25)

At the time, David Petraeus was the head of CENTCOM, the very top of the chain of command that had ordered Manning to “drop” concerns about Iraqis being detained for legitimate opposition to Maliki’s corruption.

Manning would go on to leak more documents showing US complicity in Iraqi abuses, going back to 2004. None of those documents were classified more than Secret. Her efforts (in part) to alert Americans to the abuse the military chain of command in Iraq was ignoring won her a 35-year sentence in Leavenworth.

Compare that to David Petraeus who pretends, to this day, Maliki’s corruption was not known and not knowable before the US withdrew troops in 2011, who pretends the US troops under his command did not ignore, even facilitate, Maliki’s corruption.

What went wrong?

The proximate cause of Iraq’s unraveling was the increasing authoritarian, sectarian and corrupt conduct of the Iraqi government and its leader after the departure of the last U.S. combat forces in 2011.  The actions of the Iraqi prime minister undid the major accomplishment of the Surge. (They) alienated the Iraqi Sunnis and once again created in the Sunni areas fertile fields for the planting of the seeds of extremism, essentially opening the door to the takeover of the Islamic State. Some may contend that all of this was inevitable. Iraq was bound to fail, they will argue, because of the inherently sectarian character of the Iraqi people. I don’t agree with that assessment.

The tragedy is that political leaders failed so badly at delivering what Iraqis clearly wanted — and for that, a great deal of responsibility lies with Prime Minister Maliki.

Unlike Manning, Petraeus adheres to a myth, the myth that this war was not lost 12 years ago, when George Bush ordered us to invade based on a pack of lies, when Petraeus and his fellow commanders failed to bring security after the invasion (largely through the priorities of their superiors), when Paul Bremer decided to criminalize the bureaucracy that might have restored stability — and a secular character — to Iraq.

Of course, Petraeus’ service to that myth is no doubt a big part of the reason he can continue to influence public opinion from the comfort of his own home as he prepares to serve his 2 years of probation for leaking code word documents, documents far more sensitive than those Manning leaked, as opposed to the 35 years in Leavenworth Manning received.

Which is, of course, a pretty potent symbol of our own corruption.

4 replies
  1. Don Bacon says:

    The purpose of the 2007 surge, which Petraeus receives adulation for, was to create security which would permit “reconciliation” i.e. better Shia-Sunni relations in Iraq. The result as we’ve seen is quite the opposite.
    Juan Cole

    The Washington myth is that this campaign turned the war around. But actually the US forces under Gen. David Petraeus made a deal with then (Shiite) Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disarm the Sunni militants first. They did that, and the Mahdi Army and Badr Corps militias promptly ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Sunnis from Baghdad, turning it into a largely Shiite city.

    The displaced and desperate Sunnis, filled with rage and grievances against the US and its Shiite allies, gradually turned to al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which renamed itself the Islamic State of Iraq, and then after 2011 became the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL. That is, rather than being the great success Jeb painted it, the ‘surge’ was the origins of the collapse of Iraq.

    And now Petraeus is being called upon for advice, and no politician has the guts stand up for truth.

  2. coral says:

    Thanks so much for your continued reporting on the details of these stories. The Bush II presidency is one of the darkest period in the history of the nation. The unequal legal treatment of the whistleblowers–the true heroes–and high-status figures like Petraeus–whose crimes and corruption are gradually being exposed–continues to shock me, so foreign is it to the story of America that I was taught in school.

  3. galljdaj says:

    Petraeus does as his lil commander does(Yesterday) our commander in chief announced the Govt is going to cut Govt Greenhouse Emissions 40% and take 10 years to do it!

    Is this just another lie? How much of the Govt’s greenhouse emissions coming from its war makings? Killing and Injuring Peoples plus destroying Nations is not pollution free! Its very costly especially on the other side of the World! He making the Working Peoples of the USA suffer ‘Austerity’ to pay for the Warring Crimes, and adding to it for the Next 10 years of paying for comfortable places for the criminals to work in! While the peoples of the working Americans loose JOBS EDUCATION AND HEALTH CARE… !

  4. wallace says:

    quote”Of course, Petraeus’ service to that myth is no doubt a big part of the reason he can continue to influence public opinion from the comfort of his own home as he prepares to serve his 2 years of probation for leaking code word documents, documents far more sensitive than those Manning leaked, as opposed to the 35 years in Leavenworth Manning received.”unquote

    Yeah, well he hasn’t faced a judge yet. I’m praying he’ll face one who still believes in the words engraved on the facade of the Supreme Court building..but I’m not holding my breath. Whatever sentence he hands down, it still won’t reflect that Patreaus is no less guilty of war crimes than the Nazi war criminals prosecuted at Nuremberg whose defense was “we just followed orders”.

    quote”Which is, of course, a pretty potent symbol of our own corruption.”unquote

    Indeed. Almost as good as those words engraved on the facade of the Supreme Court. At least it proves “EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER THE LAW” is a living lie in bold relief, notwithstanding living proof that “rule of law” is a bigger myth than the one Patreaus still believes.

    quote”The Washington myth is that this campaign turned the war around. But actually the US forces under Gen. David Petraeus made a deal with then (Shiite) Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to disarm the Sunni militants first.”unquote

    There ya go..there’s that ole “disarm” thingy too. You know..the one every tyrant on the planet do first before they slaughter their the Nazi’s did in Germany. Patreaus learned his lessons well. Meanwhile, back in the good ole US of A, our good ole military preps for same under the euphemism “reblue”. Unfortunately, they forgot to take out the note on the bottom of the page that gives away their secret..

    yeah..this note at the bottom of the page..


    Maybe they’ll rehire Patreaus to lead the surge. Ps..note the “hostile” states. At least they have a clue. …

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