The documents, released today by the American Civil Liberties Union ahead of a lawsuit, total nearly 10,000 pages of courts-martial summaries, transcripts and military investigative reports about 22 cases. They show repeated examples of troops believing they were within the law when they killed local citizens.
The killings include the drowning of a man soldiers pushed from a bridge into the Tigris River as punishment for breaking curfew, and the suffocation during interrogation of a former Iraqi general believed to be helping insurgents.
In the suffocation, soldiers covered the man’s head with a sleeping bag, then wrapped his neck with an electrical cord for a “stress position” they said was an approved technique.
Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer was convicted of negligent homicide in the death of Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush after a January 2006 court-martial that received wide attention because of possible C.I.A. involvement in the interrogation.
But even after his conviction, Mr. Welshofer insisted his actions were appropriate and standard, documents show.
So who is to blame for the troops not knowing the rules?