Sunday, November 27

Abuse in Iraq: Bad as it ever was

Bush & Co have long argued that we are fighting in Iraq for a "noble cause". That even though Sadam had no WMD's, had no connections to al-Qaeda or 9/11, and no nuclear aspirations -- he was still a bastard and treated his people poorly, so it's good we got rid of him. Or is it?

Abuse in Iraq as bad or worse than in Saddam's day: Allawi

LONDON (AFP) - Human rights abuses in Iraq now are as bad, or worse, than they when Saddam Hussein was in power, the nation's first post-Saddam prime minister was quoted as saying.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper in London, Iyad Allawi pointed an accusing finger at the interior ministry, and alleged that "a lot of Iraqis" are being tortured or killed during interrogation.

"People are doing the same as (in) Saddam Hussein's time and worse," said Allawi, an prominent opponent of Saddam who steered the US-backed interim government in Baghdad until April this year.

"It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam Hussein and now we are seeing the same things."

Allawi's remarks came two weeks after US troops raided a secret prison in Iraq and found about 170 detainees in need of water, food and medical attention.

Graphic pictures released by the Committee of Muslim Scholars, the main Sunni religious organisation in Iraq, showed prisoners with severe burns, massive bruising and welts on their bodies.

US military commanders and diplomats called the abuse "intolerable", pressuring elected prime minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari into ordering a joint Iraqi-US inquiry.

Interior Minister Bayan Baqer Solagh has denied claims that he commands death squads targeting the Sunni minority, adding that "only a few detainees were punched and hit" in the prison and that US forces knew of its existence.

Allawi told The Observer that the interior ministry, though not Solagh, was "at the heart of the matter".

"I am not blaming the minister himself, but the rank and file are behind the secret dungeons and some of the executions that are taking place," he was quoted as saying.

He also said: "We are hearing about secret police, secret bunkers where people are being interrogated."

"A lot of Iraqis are being tortured or killed in the course of interrogations. We are even witnessing Sharia courts based on Islamic law that are trying people and executing them."

He said that if immediate action is not taken, "the disease infecting (the interior ministry) will become contagious and spread to all ministries and structures of Iraq's government".

More broadly, Allawi warned of the danger of Iraq disintegrating in chaos, saying: "Iraq is the centrepiece of this region. If things go wrong, neither Europe nor the United States will be safe."
It's interesting to note that this abuse isn't coming from American GI's or interrogators -- it's coming from the Iraqi's themselves - the people we are trying to give this country over to. Abu Ghraib - talk about the gift that keeps on giving? It's clear that the concept and the idea that torture is somehow useful or tolerable in a humane society seems to have continued to perculate besides the best efforts of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush - "We do not torture". Yes, apparently all of "us" didn't get the memo.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture.

And, therefore, we're working with Congress to make sure that as we go forward, we make it possible -- more possible to do our job. There's an enemy that lurks and plots and plans, and wants to hurt America again. And so, you bet, we'll aggressively pursue them. But we will do so under the law. And that's why you're seeing members of my administration go and brief the Congress. We want to work together in this matter. We -- all of us have an obligation, and it's a solemn obligation and a solemn responsibility. And I'm confident that when people see the facts, that they'll recognize that we've -- they've got more work to do, and that we must protect ourselves in a way that is lawful.


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