I read a pile of very sad stories yesterday about Iraq, below.
My heart goes out to all the American soldiers there, and I'm sure Saddam being gone is a good thing, but unfortunately the means to the ends from using 9-11 as justification for war on Iraq, to 'soft lying' to the American people about any number of intellegence scenarios is unfortunately the kind of thinking that results in terrorism here at home. Hand in hand with 'the enemy of your enemy is my friend'.
I guess what I want is for people to be able to see all sides to subjects and not interpret things as black and white. At least not on a personal level, which is where people experience things. What you can touch, who you can talk to, experiences. Not that by reading a bunch of writing amounts to that experience, but hey.
I think that if we or anyone is to engage in war then we should see it and have our faces rubbed into it like a dog who shits on the floor.
Here are some sad stories.
Injustice & Iraq : United States Concentration Camps
The Ugly Truth Of America's Camp Cropper, A Story To Shame Us All
by Robert Fisk
July 22, 2003
Now here's a story to shame us all. It's about America's shameful prison
camps in Iraq. It's about the beating of prisoners during interrogation.
"Sources" may be a dubious word in journalism right now, but the sources for
the beatings in Iraq are impeccable. This story is also about the gunning
down of three prisoners in Baghdad, two of them "while trying to escape".
But most of all, it's about Qais Mohamed al-Salman. Qais al-Salman is just
the sort of guy the US ambassador Paul Bremer and his dead-end assistants
need now. He hated Saddam, fled Iraq in 1976, then returned after the
"liberation" with a briefcase literally full of plans to help in the
restoration of his country's infrastructure and water purification system.
He's an engineer who has worked in Africa, Asia and Europe. He is a Danish
citizen. He speaks good English. He even likes America. Or did until 6 June
That day he was travelling in Abu Nawas Street when his car came under
American fire. He says he never saw a checkpoint. Bullets hit the tyres and
his driver and another passenger ran for their lives. Qais al-Salman stood
meekly beside the vehicle. He was carrying his Danish passport, Danish
driving licence and medical records.
But let him tell his own story. "A civilian car came up with American
soldiers in it. Then more soldiers in military vehicles. I told them I
didn't understand what had happened, that I was a scientific researcher. But
they made me lie down in the street, tied my arms behind me with
plastic-and-steel cuffs and tied up my feet and put me in one of their
The next bit of his story carries implications for our own journalistic
profession. "After 10 minutes in the vehicle, I was taken out again. There
were journalists with cameras. The Americans untied me, then made me lie on
the road again. Then, in front of the cameras, they tied my hands and feet
all over again and put me back in the vehicle."
If this wasn't a common story in Baghdad today - if the gross injustices
meted out to ordinary Iraqis and the equally gross mistreatment in America's
prison camps here was not so common - then Qais al-Salman's story would not
be so important.
Amnesty International turned up in Baghdad yesterday to investigate, as well
as Saddam's monstrous crimes, the mass detention centre run by the Americans
at Baghdad international airport in which up to 2,000 prisoners live in hot,
airless tents. The makeshift jail is called Camp Cropper and there have
already been two attempted breakouts.
Both would-be escapees, needless to say, were swiftly shot dead by their
American captors. Yesterday, Amnesty was forbidden permission to visit Camp
Cropper. This is where the Americans took Qais Al-Salman on 6 June.
He was put in Tent B, a vast canvas room containing up to 130 prisoners.
"There were different classes of people there," Qais al-Salman says. "There
were people of high culture, doctors and university people, and there were
the most dirty, animal people, thieves and criminals the like of which I
never saw before.
"In the morning, I was taken for interrogation before an American military
intelligence officer. I showed him letters involving me in US aid projects .
He pinned a label on my shirt. It read, Suspected Assassin'."
Now there probably are some assassins in Camp Cropper. The good, the bad and
the ugly have been incarcerated there: old Baathists, possible Iraqi
torturers, looters and just about anyone who has got in the way of the
American military. Only "selected" prisoners are beaten during
interrogation. Again, I repeat, the source is impeccable, and Western.
Qais Al-Salman was given no water to wash in, and after trying to explain
his innocence to a second interrogator, he went on hunger strike. No formal
charges were made against him. There were no rules for the American jailers.
"Some soldiers drove me back to Baghdad after 33 days in that camp," Qais
al-Salman says. "They dropped me in Rashid Street and gave me back my
documents and Danish passport and they said, Sorry'."
Qais al-Salman went home to his grief-stricken mother who had long believed
her son was dead. No American had contacted her despite her desperate
requests to the US authorities for help. Not one of the Americans had
bothered to tell the Danish government they had imprisoned one of its
citizens. Just as in Saddam's day, a man had simply been "disappeared" off
the streets of Baghdad.
Robert Fisk is a journalist for the Independent Of London and writes
frequently on Middle Eastern politics and events.