Monday, January 24, 2005

Abuse Of Iraqi Women Alleged


The allegation itself is no longer surprising, is it? What is a bit surprising and unsettling is this:

Seven of the people I interviewed are plaintiffs in a pair of class-action lawsuits brought by a group of American attorneys, including Khoshaba, working with the left-leaning, New York–based Center for Constitutional Rights, against two private companies, the San Diego–based Titan Corporation, which hired translators who worked at Abu Ghraib, and the Virginia-based CACI International Inc., which provided interrogators. Three of the people I interviewed are not part of the lawsuits. (The suits seek redress for all detainees, not just women.)

Bad enough when military personnel abuse prisoners under color of authority. What exact authority (and legal protection, for that matter) do private corporate contractors have? Of course, many US prisons are now run by private corporations as well, and as I've always said, you think Abu Ghraib was bad, wait till you hear what goes on in American prisons.

In the late 1990s, Saddan received an award from Saddam Hussein for a water-management system he’d devised. He had his picture taken with the then-dictator. But, Selwa insists, her husband wasn’t close to Hussein. “He worked for the government, and we supported [the regime]. But my husband was not important at all,” she says.

Frank “Greg” Ford, 50, a former California National Guard sergeant who was in Samarra from April through June 2003 and is now a corrections officer at Folsom State Prison in Represa, California, remembers Selwa’s husband differently.

“He was considered Saddam Hussein’s right-hand man,” says Ford, who served in the military for 30 years and has worked as a Coast Guard medical corpsman. “I saw photos of him shaking hands with Saddam Hussein.” Ford says an “in-house” source -- as well as an Iraqi who had known the family for decades -- told them about Saddan.

You know, I think we've all seen photos of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. Let's ram a Glow-Stick of Freedom up his ass and see what he's hiding, shall we?

To be fair, Ford is actually something of a good guy, as these prison screws go. He's trying to be a whistle-blower, and heaven knows this whole sordid operation could use a few more of those brave souls.

The article gets worse and worse. Plenty of allegations of rape and beating of female detainees, often as leverage against the husbands, who were the actual suspects. And these women cannot formally accuse their rapists, because in a society that still practices so-called "honor killings", they'd be sentencing themselves to death.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually the truth will out, and it will take years for us to live down the blowback from George W. Bush's hubris and folly.

But I understand he wants to encourage a "culture of life". So there's that.

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