I’m really glad we invaded Iraq and saved them from a ruthless dictator who tortured and killed his own people — oops, I’m sorry, is this a rerun? (The video is from last year.) Via the L.A. Times:
Hundreds of Sunni men disappeared for months into a secret Baghdad prison under the jurisdiction of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki’s military office, where many were routinely tortured until the country’s Human Rights Ministry gained access to the facility, Iraqi officials say.
The men were detained by the Iraqi army in October in sweeps targeting Sunni groups in Nineveh province, a stronghold of Al Qaeda in Iraq other militant groups in northern Iraq. The provincial governor alleged at the time that ordinary citizens had been detained as well, often without a warrant.
Worried that courts would order the detainees’ release, security forces obtained a court order and transferred them to Baghdad where they were held in isolation. Human rights officials learned of the facility in March from family members searching for missing relatives.
Revelation of the secret prison could worsen tensions at a highly sensitive moment in Iraq. As U.S. troops are withdrawing, Maliki, a Shiite, and other political officials are negotiating over the formation of a new government. Including minority Sunni Arabs is considered by many to be a key to preventing a return of widespread sectarian violence. Already there has been an increase in attacks by Al Qaeda in Iraq, a Sunni extremist group. The alleged brutal treatment of prisoners at the facility raised concerns that the country could drift back to its authoritarian past.
Commanders initially resisted efforts to inspect the prison, but relented and allowed visits by two teams of inspectors, including Human Rights Minister Wijdan Salim. Inspectors said they found that the 431 prisoners had been subjected to appalling conditions and quoted prisoners as saying that one of them, a former colonel in Saddam Hussein’s army, had died in January as a result of torture.
“More than 100 were tortured. There were a lot of marks on their bodies,” said an Iraqi official familiar with the inspections. “They beat people, they used electricity. They suffocated them with plastic bags, and different methods.”