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Mavdog
05-10-2004, 09:34 AM
Wonder what the odds are that Rumsfield will stay on? The calls for his departure are increasing in numbers as well as their basis in fact. Here's a disclosure by the Red Cross on just how long ago the evidence of prison abuses was sounded...and ignored.
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"The ICRC has visited persons held by the coalition forces and submitted its confidential reports to the authorities responsible on the basis of its mandate under the Geneva Conventions.

This report summarizes a series of working papers handed over to coalition forces. ICRC delegates’ findings were based on their observations and on private interviews with prisoners of war and civilian internees during the 29 visits the ICRC conducted in 14 places of detention throughout Iraq between 31 March and 24 October 2003.

In addition, ICRC delegates and officials met representatives of the coalition authorities to present them with serious concerns regarding the treatment of persons protected by the Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions whom the coalition forces were holding in Iraq.

In all of its oral and written approaches, the ICRC recalled the laws and norms that States commit themselves to obeying when they adhere to the Geneva Conventions and other international treaties.

The ICRC’s findings prompted it to make repeated requests to the coalition authorities that they take corrective action."
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I wonder what the bookies odds are that he makes it through the end of the year?

MavKikiNYC
05-10-2004, 09:48 AM
And furthermore, the ICRC is recommending that Rumsfeld NOT be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

FishForLunch
05-10-2004, 09:52 AM
If President Bush in some boneheaded moment fires Rumsfield, I will pray that he loses the election this fall. One thing I cannot stand is a back stabber.

madape
05-10-2004, 09:57 AM
Safire's column today makes the case for Rumsfeld to stay.

Link (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/10/opinion/10SAFI.html?ei=5062&en=c0a787cdf05beaa4&ex=1084766400&partner=GOOGLE&pagewanted=print&position=)

Calls for his head are purely partisan games made with an eye on the election this November. The mission in Iraq would be unquestionably compromised if Bush caved into political pressure on this.

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 10:06 AM
Here's a disclosure by the Red Cross on just how long ago the evidence of prison abuses was sounded...and ignored.

What evidence do you have that the prison abuses were ignored? My understanding is that we're the ones who investigated the abuses and stopped them.

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 10:22 AM
Originally posted by: kg_veteran

Here's a disclosure by the Red Cross on just how long ago the evidence of prison abuses was sounded...and ignored.

What evidence do you have that the prison abuses were ignored? My understanding is that we're the ones who investigated the abuses and stopped them.

The Red Cross told the US of the situation over 6 months ago, both in writing and verbally during their visits to the jails. As mentioned above, the reports were completed in November of 03. In Feb of this year ICRC gave to the US military a written report cataloguing their findings.

The Red Cross is the group who investigated, not the internal process which was done after the ICRC made both verbal and written reports. From an AP article:

"The delegates saw in October how detainees at Abu Ghraib were kept "completely naked in totally empty concrete cells and in total darkness," the report said.

"Upon witnessing such cases, the ICRC interrupted its visits and requested an explanation from the authorities," the report said. "The military intelligence officer in charge of the interrogation explained that this practice was 'part of the process"

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 10:37 AM
Do you know when the abuses took place? When they stopped?

It would be one thing if the Red Cross made their initial reports/inquiries back in October and the United States military chain of command did nothing to respond for six months. It's another thing entirely if we began the investigation process after the Red Cross reports and stopped the abuses.

To me, the latter sounds like what happened.

Of course, the media's not talking in terms of times and dates that the abuses occurred. That would make the explanation of our response way too....plausible.

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 11:11 AM
Originally posted by: kg_veteran
Do you know when the abuses took place? When they stopped?

It would be one thing if the Red Cross made their initial reports/inquiries back in October and the United States military chain of command did nothing to respond for six months. It's another thing entirely if we began the investigation process after the Red Cross reports and stopped the abuses.

To me, the latter sounds like what happened.

Of course, the media's not talking in terms of times and dates that the abuses occurred. That would make the explanation of our response way too....plausible.

It appears that the ICRC reports were ignored for several months:

"The now voluminous public record shows that the Pentagon received repeated reports of prisoner abuse but put a higher priority on extracting information about terrorist or insurgent attacks.

Although the specific abuses at Abu Ghraib occurred far down the chain of command from Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, it was a chain closely supervised from the top. Indeed, in cases of high-level detainees, rules imposed by Rumsfeld dictated that Pentagon officials up to and including the Defense secretary be involved in approving the use of coercive interrogation methods."

US Today article (http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/usatoday/20040510/ts_usatoday/earlysignsweregivensecondarypriority&e=3)

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 11:31 AM
I had already read that article, but I read it again after you cited to it. It's very short on actual dates and details, except that it does state that the first "high level" warning to the Pentagon came in mid-January 2004, and an investigation was started in early February 2004. That's 2-3 weeks.

I don't see that as failure to respond by Rumsfeld at all.

madape
05-10-2004, 11:44 AM
The Red Cross has also denied giving aid to the Palestinians because they disapprove of Isreal's illegal "occupation" and think that they should be 100% responsible for all aid given to the "displaced" Palestinian people.

In other words, the Red Cross has decided to let innocent people starve to death and die of easily curable diesease in order to support their anti-semetic political agenda.

Fuck the Red Cross

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 12:07 PM
Originally posted by: madape
The Red Cross has also denied giving aid to the Palestinians because they disapprove of Isreal's illegal "occupation" and think that they should be 100% responsible for all aid given to the "displaced" Palestinian people.

In other words, the Red Cross has decided to let innocent people starve to death and die of easily curable diesease in order to support their anti-semetic political agenda.

Fuck the Red Cross

Of course, this has nothing to do with the subject of the thread, which is the disclosure of widespread failures of the admin of the Iraqi prisons to prevent/stop prisioner abuses. I'd like to hear how the Israeli Magen David Adom can be "anti-semetic"....

Nevertheless, your attack of the ICRC is shall we say myopic at best and BS at worst. The ICRC wants Israel to be responsible for the situation. From the ICRC statement regarding their cessation of relief aid activities in the occupied territories:

"The decision to phase out the relief aid programmes in the West Bank will not have an impact on other ICRC activities in the area. Specifically, the organization continues to help improve access to drinking water and provide relief aid to Palestinian families whose homes have been destroyed. The ICRC also supports the emergency medical activities carried out by the Palestine Red Crescent Society and the Israeli Magen David Adom."

"Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is the primary responsibility of Israel, the occupying power, to ensure that the population of occupied territories has sufficient access to food, water, health services and education. Any security measures taken by Israel to defend its citizens against attacks should not have a disproportionate impact on Palestinian civilians living in the occupied territories. Palestinians must be given the possibility to live as normal a life as possible."

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 01:34 PM
Of course, this has nothing to do with the subject of the thread, which is the disclosure of widespread failures of the admin of the Iraqi prisons to prevent/stop prisioner abuses.

The subject of the thread was whether Rumsefeld would be retained or not, but I think if the AP and other news sources can cite allegations in abuse in Afghanistan and some island in the Indian Ocean as evidence that Rumsfeld knew about and ignored abuse of Iraqi prisoners, then ape ought to be able to poke fun at the inconsistencies of the Red Cross.

BTW, how about my point that it appears that Rumsfeld responded within 2-3 weeks of being notified of the issue? Doesn't make the guy look all that bad.

Fidel
05-10-2004, 02:06 PM
Originally posted by: kg_veteran
Do you know when the abuses took place? When they stopped?

It would be one thing if the Red Cross made their initial reports/inquiries back in October and the United States military chain of command did nothing to respond for six months. It's another thing entirely if we began the investigation process after the Red Cross reports and stopped the abuses.

To me, the latter sounds like what happened.

Of course, the media's not talking in terms of times and dates that the abuses occurred. That would make the explanation of our response way too....plausible.

Yesterday a german TV magazine called "SpiegelTV" did show the complete report that the Red Cross presented to both US Military and US governement officials in November last year. It gives a complete and detailed description of the abuse and turture that was happening in Abu Greibh AND OTHER prisons in Iraq. The report includes sexual abuse of prisoners and also mentiones pictures being taken and the death threat stuff.

You can see the reportage here. (http://www.spiegel.de/sptv/videonews/0,1518,,00.html) It´s in german but the documents can be seen. The reportage in question is somewhere in the middle of the page under "10.05.2004".

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 02:11 PM
Originally posted by: kg_veteran

Of course, this has nothing to do with the subject of the thread, which is the disclosure of widespread failures of the admin of the Iraqi prisons to prevent/stop prisioner abuses.

The subject of the thread was whether Rumsefeld would be retained or not, but I think if the AP and other news sources can cite allegations in abuse in Afghanistan and some island in the Indian Ocean as evidence that Rumsfeld knew about and ignored abuse of Iraqi prisoners, then ape ought to be able to poke fun at the inconsistencies of the Red Cross.

Unfortunately for ape his protestations were completely off base, as well as having nothing to do with the Iraqi issue.


BTW, how about my point that it appears that Rumsfeld responded within 2-3 weeks of being notified of the issue? Doesn't make the guy look all that bad.

The abuse was reported to US officials as early as March 03 with additional reports in November. From the previously cited article:

"In December 2002, in two separate cases, Afghan detainees died as a result of blunt-force injuries delivered by their U.S. captors. Both cases were ruled homicides and are under investigation.

Beginning in March 2003, the International Red Cross began conducting spot-checks on U.S. prisons in Iraq and reported privately to the State Department, the Pentagon and commanders on the ground concerns about the ill-treatment of prisoners.

In July 2003, Amnesty International announced it had received reports of torture or ill treatment of prisoners by coalition forces in Iraq. And some weeks after a surprise visit to Abu Ghraib in October, the Red Cross reported to U.S. commanders some of the abuses that would later emerge in the criminal investigation. Rumsfeld said he could not recall hearing about this report."

Clearly the situation with US prisons was there to be seen if Rumsfield cared to look and/or listen.

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 02:35 PM
The abuse was reported to US officials as early as March 03 with additional reports in November. From the previously cited article:

"In December 2002, in two separate cases, Afghan detainees died as a result of blunt-force injuries delivered by their U.S. captors. Both cases were ruled homicides and are under investigation.

Beginning in March 2003, the International Red Cross began conducting spot-checks on U.S. prisons in Iraq and reported privately to the State Department, the Pentagon and commanders on the ground concerns about the ill-treatment of prisoners.

In July 2003, Amnesty International announced it had received reports of torture or ill treatment of prisoners by coalition forces in Iraq. And some weeks after a surprise visit to Abu Ghraib in October, the Red Cross reported to U.S. commanders some of the abuses that would later emerge in the criminal investigation. Rumsfeld said he could not recall hearing about this report."

Clearly the situation with US prisons was there to be seen if Rumsfield cared to look and/or listen.

Reported "ill-treatment of prisoners". That's pretty damn vague to me. I'd like to see the March '03 report before I'm ready to say what Rumsfeld and/or the Pentagon KNEW at that point.

So far it seems to me like they're mishmashing a bunch of different facts together to try and impute liability to Rumsfeld.

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 04:03 PM
Originally posted by: kg_veteran
[quote]
So far it seems to me like they're mishmashing a bunch of different facts together to try and impute liability to Rumsfeld.

In his own words: "These events occurred on my watch. As secretary of defense, I am accountable for them. I take full responsibility."

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 04:09 PM
Unlike John Kerry, who won't even take responsibility for throwing some medals, Rumsfeld apparently chose the path of honor and TOOK responsibility in a situation where it has not been shown that he could be assigned any responsibility for what happened.

Even more reason for him to remain the Secretary of Defense.

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 04:16 PM
Originally posted by: kg_veteran
Unlike John Kerry, who won't even take responsibility for throwing some medals, Rumsfeld apparently chose the path of honor and TOOK responsibility in a situation where it has not been shown that he could be assigned any responsibility for what happened.

Even more reason for him to remain the Secretary of Defense.

Obviously Rumsfield has no choice but TO take responsibility, which certainly is NOT a valid reason for him to remain the Sec of Defense.

Snowman
05-10-2004, 04:25 PM
Originally posted by: Mavdog

Originally posted by: kg_veteran
Unlike John Kerry, who won't even take responsibility for throwing some medals, Rumsfeld apparently chose the path of honor and TOOK responsibility in a situation where it has not been shown that he could be assigned any responsibility for what happened.

Even more reason for him to remain the Secretary of Defense.

Obviously Rumsfield has no choice but TO take responsibility, which certainly is NOT a valid reason for him to remain the Sec of Defense.

Obvious, I don't think so. Rumsfield could have resigned, he could have ignored it and hope that it went away, he could have tried to blame it on someone else, he could have tried to cover it up, he could have done lots of things. Maybe his best decision was the one he made, but it was hardly the only one afforded him.

When faced with overwhelming evidence of an affair with Monica Lewinsky, Bill Clinton lied and said that he had never had sex with that woman. When faced with overwhelming evidence of an illegal coverup, Richard Nixon lied and said that he was not a crook. There is almost always a choice and the situation with Rumsfield was no exception. At least give the man props for doing what few politicians do, stepping up and taking responsibility for something that went wrong.

kg_veteran
05-10-2004, 05:20 PM
Originally posted by: Mavdog

Originally posted by: kg_veteran
Unlike John Kerry, who won't even take responsibility for throwing some medals, Rumsfeld apparently chose the path of honor and TOOK responsibility in a situation where it has not been shown that he could be assigned any responsibility for what happened.

Even more reason for him to remain the Secretary of Defense.

Obviously Rumsfield has no choice but TO take responsibility, which certainly is NOT a valid reason for him to remain the Sec of Defense.

It's really humorous how staunchly you defend John Kerry and split hairs when people accuse him of things, but when a member of the Bush administration is attacked, you've already found them guilty in your mind before there's even evidence of some wrongdoing/neglect/malfeasance.

I'll repeat, since it apparently didn't register with you the first time. Rumsfeld TOOK responsibility in a situation where it has NOT been shown that he could (or should) be assigned any responsibility for what happened.

There is NO evidence as of yet that Rumsfeld had information and failed to promptly act. None.

Rumsfeld did the honorable thing. He had a choice to defend himself, especially in light of the partisan and premature attacks on HIM rather than on those who actually committed the abuse, but he didn't.

Mavdog
05-10-2004, 06:59 PM
I actually have never called for Rumsfield's resignation KG. Although I don't like his tenure, as of now this is really being made into too big a deal. I do give him props for standing up and taking the flack.
Anyone who accuses Rumsfield of being weak is wrong. That however doesn't make him more qualified to be Sof Defense.....

What I do see evidence of is a failure of those responsibl;e for these facilities. I also see evidence that this failure was seen and voiced over 6 months ago by multiple groups. There were prisioners who died in custody! The command structure either agreed with the actions in the prisons and did nothing until the press were on the verge of reporting the facts, or they disagreed with the actions and were at best slow to stop it. Which is it?

dude1394
05-10-2004, 07:14 PM
Rumsfeld is a great secdef. It's funny that folks are calling for his resignation before even allowing him to present his case. Those fair-minded liberals. You really do NOT see evicdence of the military hearing about this and doing nothing about it, you've just got a bunch of hearsay. Here is the timeline that the military is stating that occurred..

First criminal investigation was started Jan 14th. Another conspiracy theory that the left is trying to not really get rumsfeld, like everything else the democrats are involved in this year it's about getting bush.

June 30: Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski named commander of all military prisons in Iraq.

• Aug. 31-Sept. 9: A team of counter-terrorism experts investigating prisoner interrogations in Iraq concludes that although the prisons should provide a "safe, secure and humane environment that supports the expeditious collection of intelligence, … it is essential that the guard force be actively engaged in setting the conditions for successful exploitation of the internees."

• October: The 372nd Military Police Company ordered to guard Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.

• Oct. 13-Nov. 6: A team of military police and legal and medical experts reviews the prison system in Iraq; it concludes that there are possible manpower, training and human rights problems that should be addressed immediately.

2004

• Jan. 13: A Member of the 800th Military Police Brigade tells superiors about prison abuses, and Pentagon officials are informed. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is told a day or so later. Shortly afterward, Rumsfeld tells Bush.

• Jan. 14: U.S. commander in Iraq, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, opens criminal investigation of abuses.

• Jan. 16: U.S. Central Command announces that an investigation of prison abuses is underway.

• Jan. 17: Sanchez formally advises Karpinski that there are serious deficiencies in her command and that the performance reflects a lack of leadership. Karpinski is later suspended from duty.

• Jan. 19: Sanchez asks for a high-level review of prison procedures.

• Jan. 24: Lt. Gen. David McKiernan, U.S. ground forces commander in Iraq, is directed to conduct the review.

• Jan. 31: Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba is named chief investigator on the review.

• Feb. 2: Taguba and his team visit Abu Ghraib.

• March 3: Taguba's preliminary findings are presented to McKiernan; they point to members of the 372nd Military Police Company and intelligence operatives as the abusers.

• March 13: The Army's Criminal Investigation Division charges six soldiers with counts ranging from conspiracy to indecent acts.

• April 6: McKiernan approves some report recommendations, including letters of reprimand for six MPs and noncommissioned officers; two are relieved of duties.

• April 28: "60 Minutes II" shows photographs of prisoners forced to engage in simulated sex acts.

• May 3: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John W. Warner (R-Va.) asks Pentagon officials to testify before his committee the next day.

• May 4: Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says those responsible will be brought to justice and widens investigations of prisons outside Iraq and Afghanistan. National security advisor Condoleezza Rice tells the Arab world that the abuses will be investigated and the perpetrators punished. Army officials give Senate committee a private briefing.

• May 5: President Bush appears on two Arab television channels, saying those responsible for the abuses will be brought to justice. Rumsfeld agrees to testify before the Senate committee on May 7.

FishForLunch
05-10-2004, 10:42 PM
Why is that we dont know what these model prisoners are in prison for? I clearly see this is the turning point where US is cowed into defeat by the whiny press. I doubt we will ever get any information from these model prisoners anymore, thanks to the press and the idiotic politicans Bush included.

I am sure some will say we are better than them, but I dont know when we will get it into our thick skulls, we are dealing with a unique enemy.
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A number of renown Iraqi specialist doctors have expressed their outrage over the Iraqi, Arab, and international public reaction to the images of abused prisoners at Abu Ghraib. This following an alarming increase in the number of assassinations and abductions of Iraqi intellectuals and top medical professionals recently in Baghdad.

"They scream and whine about abuse of prisoners, most of who are criminals, but I don't recall anyone mentioning what we have gone through let alone condemning it, which was much worse. Now they are openly calling the Americans to release thousands of those criminals from Abu Ghraib.", a relative of ours told us a couple of days ago. He was kidnapped months ago and held for 2 weeks, after which his family paid a large ransom. Now he is considering leaving Iraq after he had recieved threats. He has already been offered a job as a professor in a Medical college in Europe.

Dr. Jawad Al-Shakarchi, a famous ophthalmologist was beaten together with his wife in front of his own house by armed assailants and was then forced to pay a ransom of $30,000. He left Iraq shortly following his release. Dr. Walid Al-Khayyal, a world famous Iraqi nephrologist specialised in kidney surgery and implantation immigrated to the UK immediately after his release a few weeks ago. He mentioned that his kidnappers tortured him and urinated in his mouth several times in an attempt to break his will. He refused to disclose the sum he paid for ransom. Dr. Abdul Hadi Al-Khalili, a specialist in brain surgery, is still suffering from severe psychological trauma and depression because of the humiliation he experienced by his captors and the large sum he paid in order to save his life. Dr. Raysan Al-Fayyadh, a general surgeon, was kidnapped by 15 gunmen in 3 cars. His family paid his captors $50,000 after he had sustained fractures in his nose and left arm after a whole week of torture.

Other gangs have resorted to blackmailing doctors monthly in return for their personal safety. The target is often threatened with death or abduction of a family member in case he doesn't comply with their demands. Eventually, this lead to rivalry and disputes between gangs competing for wealthier targets, often settled by assigning 'areas of influence' to each gang

A long list of specialists and doctors whom had immigrated abroad to escape the hegemony of organised crime groups was released by several concerned specialists. The list includes names such as Sarmad Al-Fahad, Riyadh Al-Sakini, Mudhaffar Karkachi, Mizhir Al-Douri, Mudhaffar Habboush, Talib Khairallah, Sinan Al-Azawi, Adil Al-Qaisi, Ayad Shafiq, and Hussam Jarmuqli. The Iraqi Medical Association organised a sit-in Saturday protesting the public's silence to the dangers they were confronting everyday, and calling upon the GC, Ministry of Interior, religious, tribal, and political groups to put an end to it, warning them of the grave consequences to the country if the immigration of Iraqi specialists and intellectuals abroad continues.

As much as 500 Iraqi intellectuals and specialists have been reportedly assassinated since April 2003, and a much larger number have been abducted. Several groups have been accused. Insurgents, criminals, fundamental religious groups, foreign terrorists, even Israelis. GC member Muhsin Abdul Hamid mentioned the phenomenon a week ago for the first time in public, decribing it as an "international plot against Iraq". However, the reluctance of the IP to assume their duties and the spread of lawlessness is to blame. Several gangs have been captured only to be released after a few days because of threats against the police force. In Tannuma, Basrah, an IP station was surrounded by an armed group related to several prisoners detained at the station. A tribal sheikh leading the group talked to the IP officer and told him to release his 'boys'. When the officer tried to explain to him that the prisoners they were holding were looters and bandits, the sheikh responded "So what? You know they're only trying to support their families". The officer was forced to release the prisoners when the sheikh threatened to return with heavier weapons. The reason the officer relented is because he also lives in the same area, and he or his family might be later harmed by relatives of the criminals.

Some tribal sheikhs have condemned other tribes for this behaviour, and several have vowed upon themselves to disown or punish any of their tribesmen connected with banditry or criminal behaviour, and to lose the protection and sanctuary of one's tribe is the worst kind of punishment that can be inflicted on an individual in rural parts of Iraq. That is why the former regime relied on tribal leaders rather than the police force to maintain order in the country.

Tribal laws sometimes border on the surreal. For example, when a thief breaks into your house and you succeed in injuring or killing him, his tribe would contact you asking for a diyya (a specific sum of money to be payed to a tribe for it's reputation and esteem to be restored) otherwise you would have to face the consequences. There are some ridiculous stories related to this practice, like a few months ago, this incident at the Basrah university; a herd of bulls was passing through an area of campus where some powerlines construction work was going on, a bull was electrocuted when it tripped over and damaged a power cable. The bull belonged to a tribe of former Marsh Arabs who had settled in the area recently. An angry sheikh came to the dean demanding a diyya for the dead bull. The dean was at a loss. He couldn't convince the sheikh that he had nothing to do with the accident. The university ended up paying the tribe for their dead bull.

I suppose I will have to write a post some time about tribes and their controversial role in Iraqi society.

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Abu Gharib, other parts of the picture.
Yesterday a friend of mine, who’s also a doctor, visited us. After chatting about old memories, I asked him about his opinions on the current situations in Iraq. I’ve always known this friend to be apathetic when it comes to politics, even if it means what’s happening in Iraq. It was obvious that he hadn’t change and didn’t show any interest in going deep into this conversation. However when I asked him about his opinion on GWB response to the prisoners’ abuse issue, I was surprised to see him show anger and disgust as he said:

- This whole thing makes me sick.

- Why is that?! I asked.

- These thugs are treated much better than what they really deserve!

- What are you saying!? You can’t possibly think that this didn’t happen! And they’re still human beings, and there could be some innocents among them.

- Of course it happened, and I’m not talking about all the prisoners nor do I support these actions, and there could be some innocents among them, but I doubt it.

- Then why do you say such a thing?

- Because these events have taken more attention than they should.

- I agree but there should be an investigation on this. There are other pictures that were shown lately, and there are talks about others that will be shown in the near future.

- Yes, but what happened cannot represent more than 1% of the truth.

- Oh I really hope there would be no more than that.

- No, that’s not what I meant. What I’m saying is that these events are the exception and not the rule.
- How do you know that!? I must say I agree with your presumption, but I don’t have a proof, and I never thought you’d be interested in such issue!

- I was there for a whole month!

- In Abu-Gharib!? What were you doing there!?

- It was part of my training! Did you forget that!? I know you skipped that at Saddam’s time, but how could you forget that?

- Yes, but I thought that with the American troops there, the system must have been changed.

-No it’s still the same. We still have to do a month there.

-So tell me what did you see there? How’s the situation of the prisoners? Did you see any abuse? Do they get proper medical care? (I was excited to see someone who was actually there, and he was a friend!)

- Hey, slow down! I’ll tell you what I know. First of all, the prisoners are divided into two groups; the ordinary criminals and the political ones. I used to visit the ordinary criminals during every shift, and after that, the guards would bring anyone who has a complaint to me at the prison’s hospital.
- What about the 'political' ones?

- I’m not allowed to go to their camps, but when one of them feels ill, the guards bring him to me.

- Are the guards all Americans?

- No, the American soldiers with the IP watch over and take care of the ordinary criminals, but no one except the Americans is allowed to get near the political ones

- How are the medical supplies in the prison?

- Not very great, but certainly better from what it was on Saddam’s times. However my work is mainly at night, but in the morning the supplies are usually better.

- How many doctors, beside you, were there?

- There was an American doctor, who’s always their (His name is Eric, a very nice guy, he and I became friends very fast), and other Iraqi doctors with whom I shared the work, and in the morning, there are always some Iraqi senior doctors; surgeons, physicians…etc.

-Why do you say they are very well treated?

- They are fed much better than they get at their homes. I mean they eat the same stuff we eat, and it’s pretty good; eggs, cheese, milk and tea, meat, bread and vegetables, everything! And that happened every day, and a good quality too.

-Are they allowed to smoke? (I asked this because at Saddam’s times, it was a crime to smoke in prison and anyone caught while doing this would be punished severely).

- Yes, but they are given only two cigarettes every day.

- What else? How often are they allowed to take a bath? (This may sound strange to some people, but my friend understood my question. We knew from those who spent sometime in Saddam’s prisons, and survived, that they were allowed to take a shower only once every 2-3 weeks.)

- Anytime they want! There are bathrooms next to each hall.

- Is it the same with the 'political' prisoners?

- I never went there, but I suppose it’s the same because they were always clean when they came to the hospital, and their clothes were always clean too.

-How often do they shave? (I remember a friend who spent 45 days in prison at Saddam’s times had told me that the guards would inspect their beards every day to see if they were shaved properly, and those who were not, would be punished according to the guards’ mood. He also told me that they were of course not allowed to have any shaving razors or machines and would face an even worse punishment in case they found some of these on one of the prisoners. So basically all the prisoners had to smuggle razors, which cost a lot, shave in secrecy and then get rid of the razor immediately! That friend wasn’t even a political prisoner; he was arrested for having a satellite receiver dish in his house!)

- I’m not sure, from what I saw, it seemed that there was a barber visiting them frequently, because they had different hair cuts, some of them shaved their beards others kept them or left what was on their chins only. I mean it seemed that they had the haircut they desired!

-Yes but what about the way they are treated? And how did you find American soldiers in general?

- I’ll tell you about that; first let me tell you that I was surprised with their politeness. Whenever they come to the hospital, they would take of their helmets and show great respect and they either call me Sir or doctor. As for the way they treat the prisoners, they never handcuff anyone of those, political or else, when they bring them for examination and treatment unless I ask them to do so if I know that a particular prisoner is aggressive, and I never saw them beat a prisoner and rarely did one of them use an offensive language with a prisoner.

One of those times, a member of the American MP brought one of the prisoners, who was complaining from a headache, but when I tried to take history from him he said to me “doctor, I had a problem with my partner (he was a homosexual) I’m not Ok and I need a morphine or at least a valium injection” when I told him I can’t do that, he was outraged, swore at me and at the Americans and threatened me. I told the soldier about that, and he said “Ok Sir, just please translate to him what I’m going to say”. I agreed and he said to him “I want you to apologize to the doctor and I want your word as a man that you’ll behave and will never say such things again” and the convict told him he has his word!!

Another incidence I remember was when one of the soldiers brought a young prisoner to the hospital. The boy needed admission but the soldier said he’s not comfortable with leaving the young boy (he was about 18) with those old criminals and wanted to keep him in the isolation room to protect him. I told him that this is not allowed according to the Red Cross regulations. He turned around and saw the paramedics’ room and asked me if he can keep him there, and I told him I couldn’t. The soldier turned to a locked door and asked me about it. I said to him “It’s an extra ward that is almost deserted but I don’t have the keys, as the director of the hospital keeps them with him”. The soldier grew restless, and then he brought some tools, broke that door, fixed it, put a new lock, put the boy inside and then locked the door and gave me the key!

- Did you witness any aggressiveness from American soldiers?

- Only once. There was a guy who is a troublemaker. He was abnormally aggressive and hated Americans so much. One of those days the soldiers were delivering lunch and he took the soup pot that was still hot and threw it at one of the guards. The guard avoided it and the other guards caught the convict and one of them used an irritant spray that causes sever itching, and then they brought the prisoner to me to treat him.

- So you think that these events are isolated?

-As far as I know and from what I’ve seen, I’m sure that they are isolated.

-But couldn’t it be true that there were abusive actions at those times that the prisoners were afraid to tell you about?

-Are you serious!? These criminals, and I mean both types tell me all about there 'adventures and bravery'. Some of them told me how they killed an American soldier or burned a humvee, and in their circumstances this equals a confession! Do you think they would’ve been abused and remained silent and not tell me at least!? No, I don’t think any of this happened during the time I was there. It seemed that this happened to a very small group of whom I met no one during that month.

- Can you tell me anything about those 'political' prisoners? Are they Islamists, Ba’athists or what?

- Islamists?? I don't care what they call themselves, but they are thugs, they swear all the time, and most of them are addicts or homosexuals or both. Still very few of them looked educated.

- Ah, that makes them close to Ba’athists. Do you think there are innocents among them?

- There could be. Some of them say they are and others boast in front of me, as I said, telling the crimes they committed in details. Of course I’m not naive enough to blindly believe either.

- Are they allowed to get outside, and how often? Do they have fans or air coolers inside their halls?

- Of course they are! Even you still compare this to what it used to be at Saddam’s times and there’s absolutely no comparison. They play volleyball or basketball everyday, and they have fans in their halls.

- Do they have sport suits?

- No, it’s much better than Saddam’s days but it’s still a prison and not the Sheraton. They use the same clothes but I’ve seen them wearing train shoes when they play.

-Are they allowed to read?

- Yes, I’ve seen the ordinary criminals read, and I believe the political are allowed too, because I remember one of them asking me to tell one of the American soldiers that he wanted his book that one of the soldiers had borrowed from him.

- So, you believe there’s a lot of clamor here?

-As you said these things are unaccepted but I’m sure that they are isolated and they are just very few exceptions that need to be dealt with, but definitely not the rule. The rule is kindness, care and respect that most of these thugs don’t deserve, and that I have seen by my own eyes. However I still don't understand why did this happen.

-I agree with you, only it’s not about the criminals, it’s about the few innocents who could suffer without any guilt and it’s about us; those who try to build a new Iraq. We can’t allow ourselves to be like them and we can’t go back to those dark times.
As for "why"; I must say that these few exceptions happen everywhere, only in good society they can be exposed and dealt with fast, while in corrupted regimes, it may take decades for such atrocities to be exposed which encourage the evil people to go on, and exceptions become the rule.

What happened in Abu-Gharib should be a lesson for us, Iraqis, above all. It showed how justice functions in a democratic society. We should study this lesson carefully, since sooner or later we'll be left alone and it will be our responsibility to deal with such atrocities, as these will never cease to happen.