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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

173 prisoners found tortured by Iraqi Interior Ministry

Today further evidence will be reported through various international media sources of systemic abuse and torture of detainees by the new Iraqi government's Interior Ministry and affiliated militias.

It is reported that 173 (some reports have 170 to 200) prisoners, all or mostly Sunnis, were found in the basement of a building in Baghdad's neighborhood of Jadriyah in an Interior Ministry building. There are suspicions that the building may also have been used as a base for a militia called the Badr Brigade, and that such militias may have infiltrated Iraq's security services.

The detainees were found during a raid by U.S. Army and Iraqi troops, who were looking for a missing 15-year-old boy at the time.

The detainees were starved and showed signs of torture. Iraq's Deputy Interior Minister Hussein Kamal is quoted as saying

This is the worst and cannot be denied. I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating, one or two detainees were paralysed and some had their skin peeled off various parts of their bodies.
Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari promised to get to the bottom of the issue, and a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry stressed that the abuse at the facility was counter to the wishes of the Jafari government. The U.S. Embassy and multinational forces then promptly congratulated Jafari for his commitment to investigate the abuse (ref).

Update: In several days time, Interior Minister Bayn Jabr will be quoted as saying that "those who are supporting terrorism are making the exaggerations" about the torture, and that only seven detainees showed signs of abuse.

This report adds to the already substantial evidence of torture by the new Iraqi government's Interior Ministry, which has been occurring since at least July 2004, sometimes in the presence of, and with the apparent approval of, U.S. military forces.


Blogger Michael said...

Thanks for pointing out the larger pattern. Sadly, I'd kind of figured this would happen--and I'm pretty sure others, including folks like those in the 1st Bush administration, thought so too.

It's not that Iraqis, or anyone else, are 'inherently incapable' of rule by law, or democratic institutions, or anything like that...but so many circumstances are aligning to virtually ensure violence on the part of plenty of factions--and, sadly, I'm pretty sure the most ruthless are likely to be the most successful.

17/11/05 6:36 am  
Blogger American Crusader said...

elendil....I'm curious as to why HRW has lost so much of the influence it enjoyed under President Clinton. Could it be that it arose as a joint venture of George Soros and the State Department?
Soros condemned the Bush administration's policies on Iraq as "fundamentally wrong"—based as they were on a "false ideology that US might gave it the right to impose its will on the world".

Some might call that hypocritical as he is one of the world's richest men—the archetypal amoral capitalist who made billions out of the Far Eastern currency crash of 1997 and who last year was fined $2m for insider trading by a court in France

Maybe his ties to Zapatistas, FARC, Shining Path and other narco-terrorist has diminished his influence.

17/11/05 6:48 am  
Blogger elendil said...

Thank you both for your comments. I am impressed that you decided to stop by, despite our obvious difference in opinion. I am in a rush at work right now, but I will see to it that a response is given by this afternoon (your tomorrow).

17/11/05 9:43 am  
Blogger elendil said...

Michael, I agree with you that circumstances have aligned to make human rights abuse in Iraq seem almost inevitable. I guess my question is less philosophical and more pragmatic: what can we do to prevent/reduce/ameliorate this? I think at the very least we citizens of the Coalition countries, because of our hand in this, have a responsibility to have our eyes wide open to what's happening. When I am feeling pessimistic, I figure that at the very least some of us might learn a valuable lesson for the next time we support wars marketed to us as idealistic nation-building exercises.

17/11/05 7:39 pm  
Blogger elendil said...

American Crusader, after the tongue-lashing I gave you before, I'm surprised to see you here. Welcome.

Although I'm not sure what your point was, I did a quick Google on your statement and found that it was inaccurate. HRW actually arose as Helsinki Watch, created in response to the Helsinki Accords in '78. Its purpose was to monitor the Soviet Union's compliance with the sections covering human rights, religious freedom, freedom of thought, etc.

George Soros appears to have come in later as a major contributor and supporter of HRW. There is a fair amount of cross-over between those holding high positions in HRW (Board of Directors and Advisory Committees) and in Soros' business ventures. Surprisingly, there's also a lot people in those positions that I would have considered very pro-interventionist. This curious article suggests that the reason that Soros has a problem with Bush's policies is not because he disagrees with Bush's interventionism, but because he thinks that Bush is incompetent at it.

While that's all very interesting, I'd like to bring it back to what I think your point is trying to be based on your comment and our last interaction. If I am extrapolating correctly, you are saying that (a) HRW is biased, therefore (b) their reports are biased, therefore (c) the human rights abuses I've documented here are not trustworthy, maybe entirely fictional.

Everyone has bias, so it's always a good idea to be skeptical of an unusual claim. When trying to verify something, we often look for a way to test it. This usually involves trying to reproduce. We figure, if many people are able to reproduce a result, parsimony suggests that this is because it is in fact the case, rather than it just being an aberration due to someone fudging the results.

American Crusader, do you think that HRW's claim that the Coalition are torturing people has not been been sufficiently reproduced satisfy you?

Another way we test the credibility of a claim is by seeing if the predictions that follow from it are true. In HRW's report "The New Iraq", they claimed that the new Iraqi govt's police forces were abusing and torturing people. They also claimed that the Coalition has been turning a blind eye to them. They warned that this course of action would solidify the situation, allow it to continue, and perhaps make it worse.

American Crusader, do you think that HRW's predictions have come true, or do you find the current situation in Iraq -- indeed the very story you are posting under -- is more consistent with HRW having got it wrong about Iraqi police and Coalition negligence?

You rightly pointed out that I was being elitist towards you during our last interaction. To be frank, I am finding it very difficult to state the obvious like this. It seems to me that I cannot establish such basic facts without condescending -- without being condescending. So if I am being elitist again, sorry, I'm trying not to.

17/11/05 7:40 pm  
Blogger American Crusader said...

elendil...believe it or not I actually enjoyed most of your commentary. You are always welcome. In one of your post at my site you told me to look up an ad hominem attack...I thought instead of giving you a Webster definition I would just make a ridiculous example. It was a joke..don't take it to heart. I've even you the last word at my site. We disagree obviously on the work of several world human rights organizations. Do I think that they do great work? Of course I do, but I also know that many of them have political agendas.

18/11/05 1:59 am  
Blogger Michael said...

Sorry for the delay in reply, elendil. As for ameliorating this, I really don't know--it's really a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. I didn't think the war was a good idea, at least in part because I expected problems over time (I didn't think things would fall apart as fast as they did, but I also didn't expect the invasion force to be as small as it was). My pre-war feeling was that we'd see something like Iran, post 1953...

I'm aware of the ethnic differences between Iranians and Iraqis--I'm a bit more knowledgable about the ethnic differences WITHIN Iraq--but back to the topic. Iran post 1953 was considered a U.S. foreign policy "success" for 25 years or so...during that time, precious few people in this country had much concern for what Iranians, particularly Iranians IN Iran, thought. When the shah fell, I was a young teenager...reading the regular media, I was surprised they'd topple a "modernist" in favor of Khomeni and the mullahs.

Then I began to read about the abuses of SAVAK, the toppling of the Mossadeqh government, etc.--and realized several things: one, I doubt Iranians were actually all that interested in a theocracy--but the theocrats were the only ones brave/crazy enough to oppose the government, while the government itself had very little genuine support (i.e., a vacuum was filled by those in position to do so). And, at least as far as the US position was/is concerned, a 25 year success is now a 27 year failure...a pretty big one.

Yeah, Iraq was/is different in a lot of ways, but the in-country opposition to Hussein was bound to be equally brave/crazy, while any external opposition would, almost by necessity, be either weak or ruthless (hence, my belief that violence would be the ultimate arbiter). The US military, initially, might have made a substantial difference had they been there in numbers, but when it became apparent--almost immediately--that they WEREN'T--it left open the possibility for any faction to assert--or attempt to assert--whatever dominance they desired, be it local, regional, or even national. Meanwhile, the US military really isn't in a position to fairly arbitrate (and that's not their fault, by the way)...I mean, geez, a US citizen who even KNEW about the BASIC religious differences in the country, much less the BASIC ethnic differences was above and beyond at least the public pronouncements from the policy makers. Now, add to that the MUCH MORE complex religious/ethnic/regional/factional/historical difference that NO ONE in the US really understands, and you've got a giant mess.

I tend to look at the example of my home region quite a bit: Louisiana wasn't/isn't run by a thug/creep like Saddam Hussein, but it's not exactly a paragon of clean government by US standards. Yet, I guarantee the quickest way to lose a political contest down here is to get tagged as an "outsider," and if an outsider came down here, assumed power somehow, and didn't understand the differences between cajun, creole, redbone, redneck--not to mention the overt and subtle aspects of the race issues between all these PLUS the bad old white-black problems (with the added, uniquely Lousiana isssue of both the urban aspect of New Orleans AND the creole aspect of the city)--they wouldn't govern effectively at all.

IF it was a military occupation, things would get a LOT worse...and, for example, they did in the post Civil War era. I remember in fall 2003 seeing a PBS program about reconstruction, where a VERY unrepentant modern racist quite clearly made the case that while "the South" lost the war, they "won" reconstruction--with a harassment campaign that bore all the markings of a guerrilla struggle, given the times. I remember thinking at the times that this was something to remember--and not for a good reason.

18/11/05 10:54 am  
Blogger American Crusader said...

Sounds like an interesting place to grow up. I spent most of my childhood in New York but being in a military family removed around fairly often.
Any truth to the rumor that George Bush knew about Katrina back in 2000?
I've heard that scientists have proven one third of all hurricanes are racist.
In all seriousness I hope your family fared well.

19/11/05 7:43 am  
Blogger Michael said...

I was from a military family myself, A.C.--dad was a pilot in the US Navy. Moved a bit here and there, but was in Loosiana from age 11 until I spent a some time in the upper Midwest (Wisconsin) for college.

Thanks for asking about my family--fortunately, we made it through both storms without any damage--I'm in Baton Rouge, my mother and sister are in a small town called New Iberia (where Tobasco sauce is bottled). The second storm was of more concern for them, but we got REALLY lucky.

19/11/05 10:21 am  
Blogger Human said...

Hi. Read ya often, don't comment much. I write to alert you to this -

22/11/05 10:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jadriya bunker

7/10/10 7:19 am  

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