Iraq: U.S. Embassy Evacuated, Marines Sent In, Manning Speaks Out
Iraq is in a state of bedlam as the military battles with an insurgent group called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). In response to the situation, the United States announced yesterday that it is partially evacuating the embassy in Baghdad and that a small contingent of troops is being deployed for protection. Also, whistle blower Chelsea/Bradley Manning, who is in prison for leaking the infamous Iraq War Logs, spoke out this weekend about troublesome activity the U.S. military allegedly conducted off the battlefield.
The New York Times reported yesterday that "the exact number of people being evacuated from Baghdad—the American government prefers to say they are being 'relocated'—was not disclosed. But the embassy will remain open, and most of its staff will remain, according to the State Department."
Nevertheless, "the [Baghdad] embassy," which is the largest embassy in the world and employs around 5,000 people, "remains open and will continue to engage daily with Iraqis and their elected leaders—supporting them as they strengthen Iraq's constitutional processes and defend themselves from imminent threats," department spokesperson Jen Psaki stated. She also noted that "additional U.S. government security personnel will be added to the staff in Baghdad."
The Army Times yesterday shed some light on what that would entail, writing that "a U.S. military official said about 100 Marines and Army soldiers have been sent to Baghdad to help with embassy security." Over the weekend, the Department of Defense ordered an aircraft carrier and a missile cruiser to the Persian Gulf.
ISIS today captured the town of Tal Afir, which has a population of around 200,000. Although previous estimates put the militia's manpower at 5,000-10,000, The Long War Journal suggests that because of "the scope of the operation, including the territory covered" there are actually "tens of thousands" of fighters.
Manning, who served in Iraq before leaking the war logs, claims in a New York Times op-ed that he once "received orders to investigate 15 individuals" who "had absolutely no ties to terrorism" but were printing information for voters that was critical of the U.S.-backed Maliki administration. Manning warns that "the current limits on press freedom and excessive government secrecy make it impossible for Americans to grasp fully what is happening in the wars we finance."
Read more Reason coverage of Iraq here.