Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Torture: Do You Want the US Version or the Saddam Version?

There is no doubt that what has come to be known as the Abu Ghraib scandal is a terrible embarrasment to the United States of America. It should have never happened. But what about the other Abu Ghraib scandal?

If we only could see just a glimpse of what actually happened in the same prison for decades during the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein...

I have seen more than a glimpse.

An Iraqi man recently stated that for years he never could sleep at night because he was afraid that Saddam's henchmen may at any time break into his home and take him away for a midnight torture session. Now that Saddam is no longer in power? He "sleep[s] like a baby". (See My Year in Iraq by L Paul Bremer III)

Saddam was such a connessieur of terror that he had his villains videotape torture sessions for him. Shortly after the Americans rolled into Baghdad, the Ba'ath party offices were searched, and many of these videos were found. I watched 5 minutes of one such video the other day. I saw things unspeakable, against which death would be more dignified and more welcomed by the victims. Grown men were stripped to nearly nothing and then chased about a walled compound by Ba'athist thugs carrying clubs, rubber hoses, and metal pipes. They were beat mercilessly about the abdomen, about the kidneys, about the genitalia, about the legs, and about the head, all the while screaming relentlessly for a mercy that would not come. Those party officers not involved in the torture were clearly entertained by the fare before their eyes. On and on the full-grown victims wailed and screamed, usually not until the beating stopped, but until they had no more the ability to cry out.

No one should ever condone what the Americans did to Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib. But why has the American media been so complicit in creating a false dichotomy of torture by chastisting America, while at the same time not revealing or even discussing publicly available videos of what Ba'athist Iraqis did to their fellow countrymen within those same walls?

Anyone who has seen what I recently saw would know that the victims of Saddam's torture, many of whom died of their wounds, would gladly to a man, had they been given the chance, have opted for the torture given out by the Americans at Saddam's favorite prison.

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