Sunday, July 03, 2005

WELCOME TO "[t]he un-American new world of Bush's Iraqi torture camps," BuzzFlash says. "Bush replaced Saddam's torture chambers with American sanctioned ones."

The video camera pans across Hassan an-Ni'ami's body as it is washed in the mosque for burial. In life he was a slender, good-looking man, usually dressed in a dark robe and white turban, Imam at a mosque in Baghdad's Adhimiya district and a senior official of the Muslim Clerics Association.

When I first interviewed him a year ago he was suspected of contacts with the insurgency. Certainly he supported resistance to US forces.

More recently, an-Ni'ami had dropped out of sight. Then, a little over a month ago, relatives say, paramilitary police commandos from 'Rapid Intrusion' found him at a family home in the Sha'ab neighbourhood of northern Baghdad. His capture was reported on television as that of a senior 'terrorist commander'. Twelve hours later his body turned up in the morgue.

What happened to him in his 24 hours in captivity was written across his body in chapters of pain, recorded by the camera. There are police-issue handcuffs still attached to one wrist, from which he was hanged long enough to cause his hands and wrists to swell. There are burn marks on his chest, as if someone has placed something very hot near his right nipple and moved it around.

A little lower are a series of horizontal welts, wrapping around his body and breaking the skin as they turn around his chest, as if he had been beaten with something flexible, perhaps a cable. There are other injuries: a broken nose and smaller wounds that look like cigarette burns.

An arm appears to have been broken and one of the higher vertebrae is pushed inwards. There is a cluster of small, neat circular wounds on both sides of his left knee. At some stage an-Ni'ami seems to have been efficiently knee-capped. It was not done with a gun - the exit wounds are identical in size to the entry wounds, which would not happen with a bullet. Instead it appears to have been done with something like a drill.

What actually killed him however were the bullets fired into his chest at close range, probably by someone standing over him as he lay on the ground. The last two hit him in the head.
Hassan an-Ni'ami may well have been a terrorist. Or he may have had knowledge of that terrorism. Or he may have been someone who objected too loudly to foreign troops being in Iraq. We will never know. He had no opportunity to defend himself, no lawyer, no trial. His interrogation and killing were a breach of international law.

Roger Ailes sums it up succinctly: The rape rooms are under new management. Here are the details:

  • Widespread use of severe torture and extrajudicial executions
  • a secret network of invisible, or ghost, detention centers, accountable to no one.
  • diversion of international monies to paramilitary groups who use it for torture, with the knowledge of British and U.S. authorities.
  • probable collusion between the paramilitary groups and Iraq's new Ministry of the Interior.
  • a breakdown in accountability; Iraqi government officials who initially maintained close contact with U.S. military authorities, if only to defend the brutal treatment of suspected insurgents, now refuse to meet with American or European officials and often cannot even be found. American M.P.'s who in the past carried out a number of raids at the Ministry of the Interior to rescue alleged criminals who had been grossly mistreated aren't doing that anymore -- because they don't know where to look.

Hat tip to TalkLeft for BuzzFlash quote. Also note the comment by jackl:

Hey, wasn't that another justification for war, along with WMD? Saddam torturing people, mass graves, chemical attacks, plastic shredder? The guy was another HITLER. "Now his own citizens won't be tortured anymore, yadda yadda."

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