Friday, March 30, 2007

Abu Ghraib Iraqi style: Rounding up the usual suspects . . . and torturing them.

This post subtitled "Where's my propeller-hat?

I'm glad to see all the training we've been providing to the Iraqi security forces is finally paying off. The NYT reported two days ago that this new security plan in Baghdad is filling up the prisons and the Iraqis are apparently intent on out-Abu-Ghraibing us. Kirk Semple and Alissa J. Rubin report:

"The security plan's emphasis on aggressive block by block sweeps of troubled neighborhoods in the capital had flooded Iraq's frail detention system, and appeared to confirm the fears of some human rights advocates who have been predicting the new plan would aggravate already poor conditions. . . In one of the detention centers, in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, 705 people were packed into an area built for 75. . . The other center, on Muthana Air Base, held 272 people in a space designed to hold about 50."

Included in that number, according to Maan Zeki Khadum, an official with an Iraqi government monitoring group, were "two women and four boys who were being held in violation of regulations that require juveniles to be separated from adults and males from females." These human rights types, what's the big deal? I mean, we lock up entire families here in the good old US of A and we're the beacon of freedom and human rights, right?

Khadum says the detention system suffers from the problem of "fast detention and very slow release, especially for those who are not guilty." Hey, just like Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. Where do you think they got the idea to round up people willy nilly and cram them into prison, anyway? I seem to remember the general in command of the fourth ID back in 2004 not caring so much about the niceties of due process and just tossing hundreds of military age men into Abu Ghraib. When it was suggested to him that this tactic might tend to create more insurgents than it stopped he said he didn't care. Even a lowly Army lieutenant could figure out that cramming Abu Ghraib with hajis might not be such a hot idea: After hearing the news about Abu Ghraib, Second Lt. Brian Smith wrote home on May 11th 2004:

"What did Haji learn that week? First, the U.S. can be defeated. Second, that if he surrenders he will be stripped naked, have electrodes attached to his testicles and [be] made to stand in a tub of water. Fucking brilliant. Where's my propeller-hat? I need to get into the spirit of things." [Smith was shot dead in Al Habbaniyah August 2004 -- Newsweek]

Now, who was that general again? Oh yes, Major General Raymond Odierno, who just happens to be in over all command of day-to-day operations in Iraq under David Patreaus. Looks like we've really learned out lesson. Of course, its the Iraqis doing it this time, so you can't blame Odierno. But not to worry, the Iraqi government has set up a committee to keep an eye on these types of abuses. The group contains 17 lawyers who liaise between the government and the community and which "is charged with trying to win popular support for the security plan." [Just give me a minute, I'm trying to wipe the tears of laughter from my eyes!]

Now, according to the NYT article, "Sunni Arab leaders have accused to government of repeatedly turning a blind eye to widespread abuses of Sunni detainees." Therefore, they've gone ahead and put -- wait for it -- "Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi" in charge of the monitoring group. The mind boggles.

Chalabi said in an interview that "The idea is to fix the system, not to shame them and expose them." Heaven forefend! We wouldn't want to punish anyone for torturing prisoners or anything like that or hold anyone accountable for putting 705 human beings into a space made for 75. That would just be wrong.

How are the prisons in Jordan, by the way, Ahmad? Don't they have a cell with your name on it waiting for you? How on earth does this charlatan keep getting jobs? What, does he have pictures of al-Maliki screwing sheep or something? His de-Baathification job was a rousing success and they're still trying to account for all the missing silverware at the oil ministry, so what gives? Remember in the heady days of 2004 when the State Department types used to refer to the Iraq government as 'Ahmad Chalabi and the 20 thieves?' Those were the days!


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