Friday, June 16, 2006

Sectarian Warfare Symptom: Shiite Militias Control The Iraqi Prisons

The U.S. military plan to turn over control of a beleaguered Iraq to Iraqi forces is looking more unrealistic with the admission by an Iraqi official that Shiite militias control the prisons.

Iraq's prison system is overrun with Shiite Muslim militiamen who have freed fellow militia members convicted of major crimes and executed Sunni Arab inmates, the country's deputy justice minister said in an interview this week.

"We cannot control the prisons. It's as simple as that," said the deputy minister, Pusho Ibrahim Ali Daza Yei, an ethnic Kurd. "Our jails are infiltrated by the militias from top to bottom, from Basra to Baghdad."

As a result, Yei has asked U.S. authorities to suspend plans to transfer prisons and detainees from American to Iraqi control. "Our ministry is unprepared at this time to take over the facilities, especially those in areas where Shiite militias exist," he said in a letter to U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John D. Gardner, the official in charge of American detention facilities.

It was previously believed that only a few Baghdad-area "secret" torture facilities were involved.

While allegations of abuse at U.S.-run prisons have waned since the 2004 Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal, Iraqi facilities have drawn increased scrutiny since a U.S. Army raid exposed torture of dozens of detainees -- most of them Sunnis -- at a secret Interior Ministry facility in the Baghdad neighborhood of Jadriyah.

The prison was widely alleged to have been operated by a special police unit staffed largely by members of the Badr Organization, a Shiite militia with ties to Iraq's largest Shiite political party. The government investigated the facility but never announced the results...

U.S. officials recently said they consider the militias to be as grave a threat to Iraq's security as the Sunni-led insurgency...

Yei's account adds to a growing list of alleged abuses in Iraq's overburdened prison system, long criticized by Sunni leaders who say Sunni prisoners are commonly mistreated...

On Saturday, a group of parliament members paid a surprise visit to a detention facility run by the Interior Ministry in Baqubah, north of Baghdad. "We have found terrible violations of the law," said Muhammed al-Dayni, a Sunni parliament member who said as many as 120 detainees were packed into a 35-by-20-foot cell. "They told us that they've been raped," Dayni said. "Their families were called in and tortured to force the detainees to testify against other people."

The low-grade civil war in Iraq has progressed past the point to which any expectation that the U.S. will be able to find untainted proxies to take control and stop the sectarian violence--allowing the Americans to make a face-saving exit--is wishful thinking at best.

Rather than accept the blame for a misguided and illegal intervention in Iraq, the cowardly leaders in the Bush administration are willing to drag out the inevitable, regardless of the damage to the national interests of the United States.

Not to mention the cost in American lives.


Blogger DrewL said...

Something tells me that this result isn't so unexpected by those in the administration. The spectre of continued violence and uncertainty forces us to retain our presence in Iraq for some time to come. We really have no plans to leave, and I believe we never did.

After all, we're being told that this is "The Long War". How long is "long"? Ten years? Twenty? Thirty? Fifty? One hundred?

6/18/2006 12:08 AM  
Blogger Effwit said...


Probably not unexpected by the experts and the uniformed military, but denied by the civilians in Washington.

And you are right, our perminent bases are there for a reason. We will only have a total withdrawal if we are kicked out.

6/18/2006 8:16 AM  

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