FOI request reveals true cost of war

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained files from the US Army on compensation claims to Iraqi and Afghan civilians killed and hurt by coalition forces. The ACLU received the documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Of the 496 claims, 164 resulted in cash payments to families, the ACLU says. Many files relate to civilian deaths at checkpoints or near US convoys.

The ACLU believes the files it has received are a very small proportion of those held by the defence department, and it is asking the US Army to disclose them all.

One incident dating from February 2006, describes how a fisherman in Tikrit was shot dead as he reached down to switch off the engine of his boat. He had been shouting "fish, fish" and pointing to his catch at the time of the killing. Although the fisherman was murdered in cold blood, the U.S. army refused to compensate his family, claiming that it was the result of combat activity. However, it paid $3,500 for the loss of his boat - which drifted off - his fishing net and mobile phone.

Payouts reveal Iraq civilian toll (BBC news, 13 April 2007)

U.S. data reveals human costs of war (Aljazeerah, 14 April 2007)