August 08, 2004


Via First Draft:

,P.Ordered to just walk away : Saturday, August 07, 2004 MIKE FRANCIS,/P.

BAGHDAD -- The national guardsman peering through the long-range scope of his rifle was startled by what he saw unfolding in the walled compound below. From his post several stories above ground level, he watched as men in plainclothes beat blindfolded and bound prisoners in the enclosed grounds of the Iraqi Interior Ministry. He immediately radioed for help. Soon after, a team of Oregon Army National Guard soldiers swept into the yard and found dozens of Iraqi detainees who said they had been beaten, starved and deprived of water for three days.

In a nearby building, the soldiers counted dozens more prisoners and what appeared to be torture devices -- metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottles of chemicals. Many of the Iraqis, including one identified as a 14-year-old boy, had fresh welts and bruises across their back and legs. The soldiers disarmed the Iraqi jailers, moved the prisoners into the shade, released their handcuffs and administered first aid. Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., the highest ranking American at the scene, radioed for instructions. But in a move that frustrated and infuriated the guardsmen, Hendrickson's superior officers told him to return the prisoners to their abusers and immediately withdraw. It was June 29 -- Iraq's first official day as a sovereign country since the U.S.-led invasion.

The incident, the first known case of human rights abuses in newly sovereign Iraq, is at the heart of the American dilemma here. In handing over power, U.S. officials gave Iraqis authority to run their own institutions -- even if they made mistakes. But officials understand that the United States will be held responsible when the new Iraqi authorities stumble. "Iraqis want us to respect their sovereignty, but the problem is we will be blamed for leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse," said Michael Rubin, a former adviser to the interim Iraqi government who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "We did not generally put good people in."

An Oregon guardsman who witnessed the day's events, Capt. Jarrell Southall, provided The Oregonian with a written account of the incident. Other guardsmen interviewed in Iraq corroborated Southall's account on the condition that their names not be used...

Posted by DeLong at August 8, 2004 09:02 AM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

Monkey see; monkey do.

Have you noticed that aWol no longer mentions
the rape and torture rooms that Saddam ran?

Merely the sub contractors have been replaced.

Posted by: SEC Overreach on August 8, 2004 10:35 AM


This reminds me of that very similar incident just before the transfering of "Sovereignty™" When the GI's asked the Iraqi police why they were torturing their prisoners they replied similarly adding, (from memory), "At least we didn't strip them naked, photograph them and fuck them like you did."

O America! I sing of thee! A beacon of liberty unto the world!

As long as I'm on the topic of off-color black humor (hmmm?), I liked this one so much I've used it as an email sig. The speaker is a recently released detainee from Abu Ghraib:

“The Americans brought electricity to my ass before they brought it to my house!”

Please accept my sincere apologies for the coffee which just shot out of your nose.

Final word: when I read that I actually had a real feeling of hope that as bad as it is and though it will get far worse, I think they'll make it.

Posted by: Barry Freed on August 8, 2004 10:35 AM


"Tribal sovereignty means that; it's sovereign. I mean, you're a -- you've been given sovereignty, and you're viewed as a sovereign entity."


Posted by: me on August 8, 2004 11:45 AM


"Iraqis want us to respect their sovereignty, but the problem is we will be blamed for leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse," said Michael Rubin, a former adviser to the interim Iraqi government who is now a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. "We did not generally put good people in."

So let me get this straight. The problem is NOT that "we did not generally put good people in", it is that "we will be blamed for it"? Well at least someone at the AEI has their eye on what's ultimately important, doesn't he.
Kinda sums up the GWB presidency in one paragraph, doesn't it?

Posted by: Maynard Handley on August 8, 2004 02:13 PM


I wonder if those who insist that the "liberal media" doesn't report good news from Iraq will think this qualifies.

I'm so proud of the Oregon guardsmen of the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry that my eyes are bothering me...

Posted by: Tom Marney on August 8, 2004 02:16 PM


How sad for those who have lost loved ones and those who are yet to lose loved ones in the Iraq war. How sad for those who have been permanently injured and those who are yet to be permanently injured in the Iraq war. America has not been made a safer place and Iraq is not being made a better place. I hope there is a special place in hell for Bush for having had his personal war at the expense of others while he continues to live his life in luxurious comfort.

Posted by: Dubblblind on August 8, 2004 02:45 PM


Tom, this could count as the liberal media pointing out only the bad news, if desired. A 'non-liberal' media wouldn't print America-hating things like Our chosen agents in Iraq performing Saddam-like things.

Posted by: Barry on August 8, 2004 03:52 PM


Yes, but this article tells me that even in the morass of present-day Iraq there are still Americans who understand deeply what being American is all about and who are willing to put themselves on the line over it.

It'll be interesting to see how Limbaugh et al spin this...

Posted by: Tom Marney on August 8, 2004 04:23 PM


I sigh too, but it's not clear that the US troops should be doing anything different. Should US troops in Britain intervene if they see torture in a local jail? Or British troops in Germany or Turkey?

Posted by: Otto on August 8, 2004 04:45 PM


The point, Otto, is that -- when initiating this war -- we promised up one side and down the other that we would be bringing something better to Iraq. It now looks highly likely that we've merely imposed Saddam, Part 2 (especially since -- like Saddam -- Allawi may very well be unable to impose unity on Iraq with anything less than wholesale brutality. So: no WMDs (of any sort), no democracy, Iran's own bomb-development effort running rampant, North Korea and the rest of the Megaterrorism War neglected... remind me again what the death toll and monetary cost of this war have been...

By the way, CBS has now followed up the "Oregonian's" story -- this time with more of those ever-so-revealing photos: . It's enough to make me feel a faint, fugitive trace of sympathy for Ahmad Chalabi, given today's arrest warrants against him and his nephew. I wonder whether he's actually guilty of those particular offenses, or wheher Allawi is simply getting him out of the way.)

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw on August 8, 2004 05:17 PM


I see where you are coming from. I was trying to point out that the particular decision by the US troops is probably the right one.

"It now looks highly likely that we've merely imposed Saddam, Part 2"

Possible. But it may be that Iraq will end up with something like Turkey's human rights record and Turkey's democracy, with a better deal of sorts for the Kurds (because the US insists). That would make Iraq pretty grim by many standards, but much better than Saddam, Part 2.

Posted by: otto on August 8, 2004 06:15 PM


Well, what are the running totals?

No WMDs, no non-trivial al-Qaeda connection, and we certainly haven't brought freedom, or even a better life, to the people of Iraq.

So nearly 1000 dead, $200 billion down the drain, our military tied down and worn out in this hellhole, the goodwill we'd had after 9/11 gone, and our reputation abroad in shreds and tatters.

And apparently all for nothing.

Posted by: RT on August 8, 2004 06:45 PM


RT: I believe the "running total" is way more than 1000 dead. And it's not just the dead, there are the numerous injuries and dismemberments of various degrees of severity, PTSD cases, and families torn apart, that affect individuals, families, and the people with whom they live for the rest of their lives and often for more than one generation.

Posted by: cm on August 8, 2004 09:13 PM


OK, the score is:

3,000 dead WTC victims. 1,000 dead US servicemen.
-versus- 11,000 dead Iraqi civilians.

The US is way ahead on this. Then, conversely:

A dozen Iraqi properties illegally seized by Ahmed Chalabi for his own family. $100,000's in counterfeit currency seized in Chalabi's home, trading it for post-Saddam dinars. $3,400,000 a month GWB's DoD was paying this convicted felon and spy to invite US to invade Iraq. Now he's considered by many as an Iranian double-agent.
Chalabi fled back to Tehran, Iran, for orders.

I'll repeat for the sake of clarity:
3,000 dead WTC victims, and 1,000 dead US servicemen, and 5,000 more permanently maimed.
11,000 dead Iraqi civilians, and as many as 500,000 dead from US sanctions during GHWB/Clinton/GWB, and 24,500,000 lives ruined.
Crude oil at an all-time high, likely heading higher as the elections approach and violence crescendoes all across the Middle East.

People on the ground in Iraq say our troops are dug in around Baghdad, Basra and the Kurdish oil fields. The rest of the country is in chaos, the Iraqi police force has abandoned their stations, and the process of NWO rubblization has begun.

Der George is using Agent Orange Alert on the US.
Don't you folks get it? These dicks are ruthless criminals. They don't give a s&*t what you say. Their goal is to amass your fortune into theirs.

Posted by: Larry Ellison on August 9, 2004 01:16 AM


Trying to impose a western style democracy on a middle eastern Moslem nation was and is a fool's errand. It isn't going to happen. If Alawi is willing to be ruthless and brutal enough he MAY be able to stabilize the country, or he may not and the situation will further deteriorate until we are driven out. But one thing we can be sure of is that Iraq is not going to have a western style democracy.

Let's summarize: There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, there was no collaborative relationship between Al Caeda (Sp?) and Saddam, and there will not be a western style democracy in Iraq. So what on earth did we go to war with Iraq for?

Posted by: Captain Video on August 9, 2004 02:46 AM


Hm. Perhaps it's time to hunt down CPT Rockwood for an interview ....

Posted by: WatchfulBabbler on August 9, 2004 05:50 AM


RT writes, "...and we certainly haven't brought freedom, or even a better life, to the people of Iraq."

Perhaps you ought to ask *Iraqis* whether they are freer or better off now, than when Saddam Hussein was in power:

Of course, every single one of those blogs, and literally dozens of others (likely to be hundreds of others in a year's time) would have been ***illegal*** under Saddam Hussein.

Then there are opinion polls:

Of course, that public opinion poll *also* would have been illegal under Saddam Hussein.

But let's forget both those for a moment. RT, there are two groups that measure freedom:

1) Freedom House measures political and civil liberties freedom (, and

2) the Heritage Foundation (and others) measure economic freedom (

I will bet you any mutually agreeable amount of money that the freedom of Iraqis, as measured by both those organizations, is greater in 2005 (the first full year of Iraqi sovereignty) than it was in 2002 (the last full year Saddam Hussein was in power).

How about it, RT? Care to put your money where your mouth is (where your typing fingers are)?

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 10, 2004 02:48 PM


"Trying to impose a western style democracy on a middle eastern Moslem nation was and is a fool's errand."

Yeah, those Arabs Muslims can't stand democracy or freedom. They like to be beaten by their rulers.

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 10, 2004 02:52 PM


Larry Ellison writes, "I'll repeat for the sake of clarity:...

11,000 dead Iraqi civilians, and as many as 500,000 dead from US sanctions during GHWB/Clinton/GWB,..."

OK, let's take those figures as accurate, and assume that the apportionment for those "dead from U.S. sanctions" is evenly spread over time:

GHWB = 1991-1993 = 83,000 dead

Clinton = 1993-2001 = 333,000 dead (but I'm sure he "felt their pain"!)

GWB = 2001-2003 = 83,000 dead.

In other words, that's 41,666 killed every year by sanctions.

I thought you leftists actually cared about saving Iraqi lives?

Well, apparently not, based on Madeleine Albright's assessment:

Lesley Stahl: "We have heard that half a million children have died [as a result of sanctions against Iraq]. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima.... Is the price worth it? "

Madeleine Albright: "...we think the price is worth it." - 60 Minutes, May 12, 1996

Some more from that website:

"Still, the people of Iraq must continue to suffer-and suffer in ways of which few outsiders are aware. Under rules drawn up by a UN sanctions committee in New York, which is in effect US-controlled, Iraq is prohibited from importing fertilizer and animal feed equipment. This has caused the collapse of much of the nation's agricultural production. Baby food and enriched powdered milk are banned, forcing mothers who are too malnourished to breast-feed to give their babies sugared water or sugared black tea. Most of these children have died; they are known as the "sugar babies."

In the hospitals, people are being operated on without anesthetic because vital equipment is blockaded, along with stethoscopes, X-ray equipment, scanners, water purifiers, bandages, sutures and medical swabs. A consignment of ambulances from France was stopped. Customs officers at London's Heathrow Airport recently confiscated antibiotics from a humanitarian delegation flying to Iraq and threatened to prosecute. Children's clothes, sanitary napkins, light bulbs, schoolbooks, paper, pencils, shoelaces-all are banned or have been lost in a cynical delaying process. The Austrian former chairman of the sanctions committee, Peter Hohenfellner, has admitted, "We are not inclined to take a more flexible view to all these goods [because] we want to maintain the pressure on Iraq." A Jordanian consignment of shroud material for the dead was vetoed by the United States and Britain.

"We will not be intimidated or pushed off the world stage," said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in August, "by people who do not like what we stand for, and that is, freedom, democracy and the fight against disease, poverty and terrorism." The irony of her words is bleak indeed; for, the threat of bombing aside, her government is engaged in a massive act of terrorism in Iraq in what amounts to a war on the civilian population, mostly children, in breach of both the Geneva Convention and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Anyone doubting the scale of this terrorism should read British historian Geoff Simons's scholarly and damning book, The Scourging of Iraq: Sanctions, Law and Natural Justice. Eight years of sanctions have killed 2 million Iraqis, writes Simons, including perhaps as many as a million children. That is the child population of a medium-sized American city. The Food and Agricultural Organization has estimated 560,000 deaths based on extrapolations, according to The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Iraqi Health Ministry's figure is 1,211,285 children, calculated in August 1997. It will be considerably higher now.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who has led a commission of inquiry in Iraq since 1991, wrote that most deaths were preventable by the medicines and equipment denied Iraq. "They are dying," he wrote, "from wasting or emaciation which has reached 12 percent of all children, stunted growth which affects 28 percent, diarrhea, dehydration from bad water or food...common communicable diseases preventable by vaccinations.... There are no deaths crueler than these." As for humanitarian exemptions to sanctions, writes Simons, 'these are for public relations. Sanctions are designed to kill. A doctor might as well call for the humane implementation of torture.'"

Posted by: Mark Bahner on August 10, 2004 03:13 PM


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