Tuesday, November 15, 2005

A Step Back for Democracy in Iraq


By BASSEM MROUE
Associated Press Writer

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Iraq's prime minister said Tuesday that 173 Iraqi detainees - malnourished and showing signs of torture - were found at an Interior Ministry basement lockup seized by U.S. forces in Baghdad. The discovery appeared to validate Sunni complaints of abuse by the Shiite-controlled ministry.

The revelation about the mostly Sunni Arab detainees by Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was deeply embarrassing to the government as critics in the United States and Britain question the U.S. strategy for building democracy in a land wracked by insurgency, terrorism and sectarian tension.

"I was informed that there were 173 detainees held at an Interior Ministry prison and they appear to be malnourished," al-Jaafari said of Sunday's raid at a detention center in the fashionable Jadriyah district. "There is also some talk that they were subjected to some kind of torture."

But the head of Iraq's largest Sunni political party said he had spoken to al-Jaafari and other government officials about torture at Interior Ministry detention centers, including the one where the detainees were found.

Mohsen Abdul-Hamid, leader of the Iraqi Islamic Party, said the government routinely dismissed his complaints, calling the prisoners "former regime elements," meaning Saddam Hussein loyalists.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, have expressed their "deep concern" over the condition of the detainees "at the highest level" of the Iraqi government, a U.S. Embassy statement said.

"We agree with Iraq's leaders that the mistreatment of detainees is a serious matter and totally unacceptable," the statement added.

But the case also raises troubling questions about the training and discipline of Iraqi security forces, which Washington hopes can assume a greater role in fighting the insurgents so that U.S. and other international troops can begin to go home.

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4 comments:

Underground Logician said...

James:

Could you find something positive that's happening in Iraq? I mean, you choose the AP, which is so "balanced" lately. And there is this unspoken sanctioned torture theme that is dripping from the text. Gee, I wonder if the Iraqi military is taking lessons from us in Arab Grab prison?

I know you're a liberal, and you hate how Bush is prosecuting the war, which is why you are posting what you post. Blah, blah, blah. Shock the hell out of me; find something good that's happening and feel the rush of patriotism!

james said...

UL:

I think that there are plenty of things that are positive happening in Iraq. The vote on the Constitution I think was a positive step (albeit a bit shaky). Also, the previous vote was a good step forward as well.

The U.S. military is helping to rebuilding infrastructure and doing their best to move ahead and this is all good and positive.

However, Unfortunately most of what is going on over there right now is negative. I do not want the mission in Iraq to fail but I am not going to pretend that everything is going well because it's not.

I'll hold off on calling it a full success until the Iraqi troops can stand on their own and we can bring ours home.

The other thing is that you don't have to agree with Bush in order to be patriotic in my opinion. I don't believe in blind patriotism.

I support the troops in what they are doing because they have no choice but do their job and I am damn proud of our military. My brother-in-law was over in Iraq and I am proud of his service.

Our military are the best in the world and I always try to thank a vet whenever I have the chance.

I don't support Bush but I don't think I have to support Bush to be patriotic. If it was Clinton in this position I would not support him either (as hard as that might be to believe on your part).

Patriotism does not come in a "one size fits all" in my opinion.

I know that we will succeed in Iraq as long as we avoid the "cut and run" decision. Again, let me state that I do not agree with many liberals in leaving right now. I believe I have made this point over and over.

As for the AP, I think that they have been the standard in news for a long time and I think that is because they do their job so well. I think that they are the most balanced news outlet over the years despite leaning to the left. This is why I think that they are probably the most cited news agency out there. They have developed a great reputation amongst most in this country and the world.

You criticize the Wash Post, MSNBC, CNN, and now the AP. I even read and use the Wall Street Journal. Is the Wall Street Journal liberal too? What news agency should I be looking into instead of all these varied outlets? FOX News???

I watch FOX now and then but I do not think they are balanced either. I would agree with you that every agency is slanted in one way or the other. I just wish everyone would be honest about which way they lean. Why doesn't FOX come out and say they lean right instead of constantly calling themselves "fair and balanced?"

Now how about you shock me and tell me one liberal position that you support? ;)

I can tell you that for myself I like the conservative stand on immigration and shuting down our southern border more.

Zen Unbound said...

UL,

I think the problem is that whatever is happening that is positive is slow and incremental and uncertain.

The horrible stuff leaps up at you.

MAYBE Iraq is moving toward democracy and stability and where its people can find happiness. BUT very very possibly the democracy will fall apart and the area will be awash in bunches of different conflicts leading to who knows where.

UL, you are right to this extent: The terrorists are merchants of the horrible and they count on the exposition, from all sources, to center on what THEY are doing. We all end up doing the terrorists' bidding.

[Of course James's post NOW isn't about the terrorists, but about the Iraqi gov't, but ... still ...]

I think in your comment, UL, you are kidding, in a dark humor sort of way. Everyone focusses on the horrible. Do you recall any reporting in the conservative press on the POSITIVE aspects of the Clinton-Lewinski affair!!? I mean Bill and Monica were ENJOYING each other. Where was the positive reporting on their passion and stress-reliving orgasms?

james said...

Tom:

Hahahahaha!!!

Good point on the Clinton-Lewinski affair.

There are always two sides to every coin.

Thanks for the chuckle.