Robert Dreyfuss, who has reported extensively on this subject before, argued last week that the discovery of the Iraqi government's torture center in Baghdad on Nov. 13 removes all possible doubt that the Bush administration is complicit in creating a regime that uses the very techniques it cited in justifying its invasion of Iraq.[1]  --  "The very same Bush administration that defends torture of captives in the so-called War on Terrorism is using 150,000 U.S. troops to support a regime in Baghdad for which torture, assassination, and other war crimes are routine," he wrote.  --  Funding for the activities that were discovered on Nov. 13 came, according to Dreyfuss, from the United States Congress itself.  --  In November 2003, it approved $3 billion in secret funds, part of which were designated for "the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups," as Dreyfus reported then and as British media reported in January 2004, though U.S. mainstream media ignored the matter.  --  Reports on the Iraqi torture chambers in the Washington Post[2] and the New York Times[3] presented Americans as amazed innocents discovering the evils of Iraqis engaged in civil war (or as the New York Times likes to say, "sectarian strife").  --  (Interestingly, the U.S. Congress also appears to have played a still to be elucideated role in revealing the existence of the prisons. Edward Wong of the New York Times reported: "A central mystery surrounding the American raid involves a missing 15-year-old youth who may have been arrested by the Iraqis. Mr. Jabr said Thursday that the raid began after Brig. Gen. Karl Horst of the Third Infantry Division was informed that a member of the United States Congress wanted the military to look for this boy. Mr. Jabr gave the general permission to visit the bunker in the Jadriya neighborhood. The boy was not found at the bunker.  --  When General Horst and his troops arrived at the bunker on Sunday, Iraqis kept the doors locked and blocked their way. The general called Mr. Jabr, who ordered that the prison be opened. The Iraqi guards had told the Americans that there were only 40 prisoners inside, but the Americans found 169, General Lynch said.")  --  The truth, however, is much more complex and much more sinister, as Max Fuller reported Thursday:  "The reality is that the Special Police Commandos are composed of ex special-forces and Republican Guard personnel and were established by former Baathists with long histories of involvement with the CIA, under the supervision of U.S. counterinsurgency experts. . . . The U.S., largely through the CIA, has a long history of involvement with genocidal intelligence operations, from Indonesia under Suharto, through Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, to present-day Colombia.  The current mass arrests in Iraq and subsequent killings bear all the hallmarks of such an operation. . . . [M]any of the worst crimes are reserved, as they have been in Latin America, for U.S. proxies. . . . The victims of U.S.-trained death squads are not just humiliated; their eyes are gouged out, their skin is peeled off and electric drills are driven through their knees."[4] ...

1.

OUR MONSTERS IN IRAQ
By Robert Dreyfuss

TomPaine.com
November 18, 2005

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/20051118/our_monsters_in_iraq.php

It is time to start waving the bloody shirt. There is no longer any doubt that the men that the United States has installed in power in Iraq are monsters. Not only that, but they are monsters armed, trained, and supported by George W. Bush's administration. The very same Bush administration that defends torture of captives in the so-called War on Terrorism is using 150,000 U.S. troops to support a regime in Baghdad for which torture, assassination, and other war crimes are routine.

So far, it appears that the facts are these: that Iraq's interior ministry, whose top officials, strike forces, and police commando units (including the so-called Wolf Brigade) are controlled by paramilitary units from Shiite militias, maintained a medieval torture chamber; that inside that facility, hundreds of mostly Sunni Arab men were bestialized, with electric drills skewering their bones, with their skins flayed off, and more; that roving units of death-squad commandos are killing countless other Sunni Arab men in order to terrorize the Iraqi opposition. Even the Washington Post, that last-ditch defender of America's illegal and unprovoked assault on Iraq, says:

"Scandal over the secret prison has forced the seven-month-old Shiite-led government to confront growing charges of mass illegal detentions, torture, and killings of Sunni men. Members of the Sunni minority, locked in a struggle with the Shiite majority over the division of power in Iraq, say men dressed in Interior Ministry uniforms have repeatedly rounded up Sunni men from neighborhoods and towns. Bodies of scores of them have been found dumped by roadsides or in gullies."

The New York Times reports that the Iraqi interior minister isn't all that upset about the torture center. Bayan Jabr, "speaking of the prison in an angry sarcastic tone, said, 'There has been much exaggeration about this issue.' And he added, "Nobody was beheaded.'" So, apparently not beheading innocents is the standard of justice in the New Iraq. And, apparently there may be dozens, scores, or hundreds of similar facilities.

This is not a surprise.

Nearly two years ago, writing in the American Prospect, I wrote the following: "The Prospect has learned that part of a secret $3 billion in new funds -- tucked away in the $87 billion Iraq appropriation that Congress approved in early November -- will go toward the creation of a paramilitary unit manned by militiamen associated with former Iraqi exile groups . . . The bulk of the covert money will support U.S. efforts to create a lethal, and revenge-minded, Iraqi security force." Except for a parallel story by Sy Hersh in the New Yorker, the story was ignored.

Over the past two years, writing for TomPaine.com, I have repeatedly written about Shiite death squads and about abuses by the paramilitary Badr Brigade, the secret army trained and run by Iran's Revolutionary Guards. Iraqi Sunnis and opposition leaders, including Aiham Al Sammarae (as I wrote for TomPaine ) have charged that the Iraqi government has been running assassination teams. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, have been killed already, including two attorneys for those accused in the kangaroo court set up to convict Saddam Hussein and other former Iraqi government officials. The Post suggests that the prison uncovered in Baghdad was a "secret torture center run with the help of intelligence agents from neighboring Iran." Read that again: intelligence agents from Iran.

Last week I had a chilling encounter with one of the monsters responsible for the Murder Inc. units run by Badr and by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). At a Washington think tank, I met Adel Abdul Mahdi, Iraq's so-called deputy president and a SCIRI official. When I asked Mahdi about reports that Iraqi police and interior ministry squads were carrying out assassinations and other illegal acts, he didn't deny it -- but, he said, such acts were merely a reaction to the terrorism of the resistance. "There is terrorism on only one side," he said. "Inappropriate acts by the other side, by the police -- this is something else. This is a reaction." As far as civilian casualties in Sunni towns, he had this to say: "You can't fight terrorism without attacking some popular areas."

I also asked him about the Badr Brigade, the Iranian-backed paramilitary force that is the main domestic army propping up Abdul Mahdi's Shiite coalition, he said "they are disarmed," which is patently absurd. He added: "They participate fully in the political process."

Abdul Mahdi had this to say about Fallujah, the city that was obliterated by the U.S. armed forces a year ago. "It is one of the most peaceful areas in Iraq. I don't know whether the people are happy or not. But it is one of the most peaceful cities."

Make no mistake. The gangsters now running Iraq are our creatures.

Earlier this week, I was speaking with someone who was involved in the pre-2003 war planning effort vis-à-vis Iraq. As I mentioned in TPM Cafe , he told me that some of his colleagues realized that the New Iraq would probably be taken over not by Ahmed Chalabi, but by the Shiite fundamentalists. Those radical-right parties (along with the Kurds) were the real forces that took part in Chalabi's INC bloc. And the United States consciously supported the toppling of Saddam knowing that radical Shiites would be the chief beneficiaries. This was not an intelligence failure. We knew it. This was an explicit decision by the neocon-dominated cabal to replace Saddam with Shiite crazies. Now, we see that those crazies are running Saddam-like torture prisons where they use electric drills and flay the skin off Sunni captives.

The military in Iraq is scrambling to limit the damage from the stunning revelation about the men who are running Iraq today. We toppled Saddam -- and in his place we've installed a hundred mini-Saddams.

--Robert Dreyfuss is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005). Dreyfuss is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va., who specializes in politics and national security issues. He is a contributing editor at the Nation, a contributing writer at Mother Jones, a senior correspondent for the American Prospect, and a frequent contributor to Rolling Stone. He can be reached at his website: www.robertdreyfuss.com.

2.

World

Middle East

Iraq

U.S. TO PROBE ALL IRAQI-RUN PRISONS
By Ellen Knickmeyer and K.I. Ibrahim

** Joint Investigation to Cover 1,100 Sites; Large Blasts Hit Near Interior Ministry Jail **

Washington Post
November 18, 2005
Page A17

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/17/AR2005111700649.html

[PHOTO CAPTION: Iraqis pray in Baghdad in front of the coffin of Yasir Salah, 70, who relatives say died in detention after being arrested Sunday by Interior Ministry special forces.]

BAGHDAD -- The United States on Thursday expanded its probe of alleged prison abuses to include all Iraqi-run detention sites, saying the Shiite-led government had agreed to the move after U.S. forces uncovered a secret Interior Ministry chamber in Baghdad where Sunni Arabs allegedly were tortured and starved.

Early Friday, two large bombs exploded just outside that Interior Ministry facility, knocking down concrete barriers, collapsing nearby buildings and leaving a huge crater in the street. Rescue workers, surrounded by burning vehicles and bloodied people, were climbing over the wreckage in search of trapped victims and pulling women and children from the debris. There was no immediate word about casualties.

Law enforcement officials from the FBI, Justice Department, U.S. Embassy, and U.S.-led military forces will aid an Iraqi-appointed citizens group in the prison investigation, slated to cover all of at least 1,100 sites across the country where Iraqi security forces and justice officials are holding detainees.

The breadth of the crackdown -- and involvement by top U.S. officials including Army Gen. George Casey, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, and others -- indicated the gravity with which American leaders here viewed the torture allegations and the scandal's possible impact on the already marginalized Sunni community, whose support is vital to ending the insurgency.

Iraqi and U.S. officials agreed on a six-point plan intended to "ensure humane treatment of all detainees," the embassy said in a statement. U.S. diplomats also issued a rare public rebuke to the U.S.-supported government, warning the administration about growing charges that it was letting former Shiite factional militias run the country's police forces.

"We have made clear to the Iraqi government that there must not be militia or sectarian control or direction of Iraqi security forces, facilities, or ministries," the embassy statement said.

The tough talk between allies follows the discovery last weekend of scores of detainees -- most apparently Sunnis and many of them held for months -- in a former bomb shelter of an Interior Ministry building. The captives were found Sunday by soldiers from the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, after meetings with the top U.S. military and diplomatic leaders in Iraq, publicly revealed details of the U.S. raid on Tuesday. Jafari, the leader of one of Iraq's most prominent Shiite religious parties, said he had been told some of the men appeared malnourished and had been tortured.

Sunni Arab leaders and Sunnis who said they had been held in the bunker gave accounts of bloody beatings, torture with electric shock and, in one case, being suspended from the ceiling in chains. An American television journalist saw emaciated men being taken from the center, and Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, a top Interior Minister official, said the skin of some detainees had been stripped off.

On Thursday, Interior Minister Bayan Jabr, a Shiite who directs roughly 100,000 police and special police officers, denied the allegations of widespread torture at the secret prison and broader allegations of Shiite militia and Iranian involvement in the ministry's forces.

Jabr said a U.S. general who discovered the underground prison had told him of finding five or six victims of beatings or other abuses. Allegations of more widespread mistreatment at the center, Jabr insisted, were "untrue and inaccurate."

"I reject torture, and anyone found guilty of that will be punished," he said.

Jabr told reporters that the detention center had been opened by Iraq's previous government and that he had kept it open only because the country lacked adequate prisons. When he took office, he said, the hidden prison was used as an Interior Ministry investigation facility.

At a news conference, Jabr waved a sheaf of what appeared to be passports. "Those who were held inside the center were some of the most dangerous criminal terrorists of various Arab nationalities," he declared. "Let me tell you, those who were inside the shelter house were Arab killers, and here are their passports, IDs. They are Arabs and some of the most dangerous terrorists."

Among the reported 173 detainees was an Iraqi Shiite, crippled by polio, who had taken $1,000 from insurgents to detonate car bombs and booby traps that killed more than 60 Iraqis, Jabr said.

Jabr said that while U.S. generals found what they said were cases of torture, Casey, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, also told him that "all the suspects' files were in order -- which shows that our practices and procedures are correct." All the men at the center were there on a judge's orders, Jabr said.

U.S. military investigators, however, said troops had discovered 168 detainees and files for only 116 of them.

Scandal over the secret prison has forced the seven-month-old Shiite-led government to confront growing charges of mass illegal detentions, torture, and killings of Sunni men. Members of the Sunni minority, locked in a struggle with the Shiite majority over the division of power in Iraq, say men dressed in Interior Ministry uniforms have repeatedly rounded up Sunni men from neighborhoods and towns. Bodies of scores of them have been found dumped by roadsides or in gullies.

Most of the allegations have been directed at the Badr Organization, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite party that was founded in exile in Iran and is now the leading party in Iraq's government.

Some Iraqi Sunnis involved in the insurgency have said the sweeps by the Shiite-controlled security forces are putting more pressure on their groups than U.S. military raids and are one of the factors driving the Sunni resistance to try shifting -- at least temporarily -- from guerrilla warfare to politics.

The airing of the allegations may widen Iraq's sectarian rifts if Sunnis believe the government and the Americans are not trying to correct abuses. U.S. officers, however, maintain the American raid on the secret prison already has won back some Sunni confidence in U.S. efforts here.

Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, who oversees training of Iraq's security forces, said the prison case "points out the necessity for an internal oversight that clearly isn't there" for everyone taken into custody by Iraq's security and intelligence services.

"These kinds of things are a huge detriment to the morale of the force," Dempsey said. "I think the ministry understands it, or I hope it does. We're looking for them to take it seriously."

3.

International

U.S. SPLITS WITH IRAQI OFFICIAL OVER PRISONER ABUSE
By Edward Wong

New York Times
November 18, 2005

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/17/international/middleeast/17cnd-Iraq.html

BAGHDAD -- A split between the United States and one of Iraq's most powerful officials widened Thursday over the recent discovery that prisoners were tortured by the police, as the Iraqi official played down the reports of torture while the American Embassy bluntly warned that abuse of prisoners would not be tolerated.

The embassy also said the Iraqi government should not allow militia or sectarian control of the security forces.

The Americans also declared that American investigators would help conduct a much broader inquiry into all Iraqi detention centers. Together, the events showed that the United States still exerts vast influence over the Iraqi government, despite the Bush administration's insistence that Iraqis have full control over the affairs of their country.

At a news conference, the Iraqi interior minister, Bayan Jabr, a conservative Shiite, accused the government's political opponents of bolstering the insurgency by exploiting the American military's discovery of torture at a secret police prison in the heart of the capital. Virtually all of the prisoners were Sunni Arabs, and Sunni groups have exploded in fury, saying that the discovery confirms their long-held suspicions that the Shiite-led government has been abducting and torturing or killing Sunnis.

But Mr. Jabr, speaking of the prison in an angry sarcastic tone, said, "There has been much exaggeration about this issue." And he added, "Nobody was beheaded or killed."

Later in the afternoon, the American Embassy issued its statement, saying that "detainee abuse is not and will not be tolerated." In addition, the embassy said, "we have made clear to the Iraqi government that there must not be militia or sectarian control or direction of Iraqi security forces, facilities or ministries."

The American government is still grappling with fallout across the Middle East from the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal last year and may be taking this opportunity to try today regain some moral standing, especially among Sunni Arabs.

Mr. Jabr acknowledged that seven of the 169 emaciated, malnourished prisoners discovered by the American military in a raid on Sunday had been tortured. He said the Iraqi officers responsible would be punished. But he added that many of the Iraqis and foreign Arabs being held in the prison were suspected of heinous bombings and assaults.

Mr. Jabr's defiant stand also reflects the tension between the country's two ruling Shiite parties. The prime minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a member of the Islamic Dawa Party, under American pressure, has opened a wide-ranging inquiry into treatment of prisoners. Mr. Jabr belongs to a rival Shiite group, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq. Both parties are running on the same slate in the December parliamentary elections.

Several Iraqi officials have said that members of the Supreme Council's Iranian-trained militia, the Badr Organization, were operating the secret prison. On Thursday, Mr. Jabr denied any Iranian or militia involvement.

American soldiers with the Third Infantry Division discovered the prisoners on Sunday night when they raided the two-level building, a bomb shelter built by Saddam Hussein's government that was converted into a major operations center for the new Interior Ministry.

The soldiers returned Monday to transfer the prisoners and counted 166 Sunni Arabs and three Shiite Arabs after asking each prisoner to identify his sect, said Alisha Ryu, a reporter for the Voice of America who witnessed the transfer.

In western Baghdad on Thursday, a moderate Shiite politician running in the Dec. 15 elections, Tawfiq al-Yasiri, was abducted from his home at 8:45 p.m. local time, an Interior Ministry official said. Mr. Yasiri, a former officer from Saddam Hussein's army who took part in the 1991 Shiite uprising against the government, is the head of a party called the Sun of Iraq. His abduction was the first known kidnapping of a candidate ahead of the elections for a full, four-year government.

Gunmen killed a university professor, a policeman, and a factory engineer in separate attacks in Baghdad. The American military said a soldier died in a vehicle accident south of the oil refinery at Bayji.

Jim Bullock, an embassy spokesman, told reporters on Thursday afternoon that Mr. Jaafari, the prime minister, had agreed to form a commission to look into every Iraqi-run detention center in the country, and that employees of the Justice Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation would help out. "We're providing substantial resources to support the Iraqi efforts," he said.

The commission is expected to issue an initial report in one week and a full report in two weeks. The government has also agreed to an expedited review of the cases of all 169 prisoners to see if they should continue to be detained, Mr. Bullock said. In addition, the government has said it will appoint an official to visit some detainees and will ask for assistance from the American-led forces in transporting detainees.

The strong reaction by the Americans has begun to dampen some of the hostility usually directed at them by the former ruling Sunni Arabs. American officials have been urging Sunni Arab leaders to get involved in the elections rather boycotting them, as the Sunnis did in a vote last January.

Mr. Jabr, the interior minister, tried Thursday to refute the notion that the Baghdad bunker was proof of Shiite discrimination against Sunni Arabs. He said one of the prisoners was a disabled Shiite who had been given $1,000 by insurgent leaders to help detonate four car bombs that ultimately killed 66 Iraqis.

He held up a dozen passports that he said belonged to foreign Arabs being held at the bunker. "The most dangerous Arab terrorists exist in this shelter," he said. The men had been brought there to be interrogated, he added.

The top official at the bunker is Ahmed Salman, the assistant director of intelligence at the Interior Ministry, Mr. Jabr said, and 29 Iraqi officers worked there.

Outside of the intelligence branch and the regular police forces, the ministry oversees three elite units -- the special forces, the commandoes and the public order brigades. The headquarters of each of these units has a detention center, said Gen. Adnan Thabit, the chief of the special forces. Prisoners are only held at the centers with the permission of a judge, he added.

But both an Interior Ministry official and the head of the central criminal court, Lukman al-Samarraie, have said that the elite units do not require judicial orders to detain people and that no paperwork exists for many such prisoners.

A central mystery surrounding the American raid involves a missing 15-year-old youth who may have been arrested by the Iraqis. Mr. Jabr said Thursday that the raid began after Brig. Gen. Karl Horst of the Third Infantry Division was informed that a member of the United States Congress wanted the military to look for this boy. Mr. Jabr gave the general permission to visit the bunker in the Jadriya neighborhood. The boy was not found at the bunker.

When General Horst and his troops arrived at the bunker on Sunday, Iraqis kept the doors locked and blocked their way. The general called Mr. Jabr, who ordered that the prison be opened. The Iraqi guards had told the Americans that there were only 40 prisoners inside, but the Americans found 169, General Lynch said.

4.

TORTURE AND EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS IN IRAQ
By Max Fuller

Global Research
November 24, 2005

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=FUL20051124&articleId=1315

For the last week the U.S. government has been reeling both from the revelation that it employed white phosphorous in Fallujah and from the discovery that the government it helped install is running secret detention centers in which prisoners are subjected to serious abuse.

The detention facility in the Jadiriyah district of Baghdad was discovered on Sunday 13 November when U.S. soldiers entered an Interior Ministry building in their hunt for a missing 15-year-old. What they discovered was a chamber of horrors. More than 170 prisoners were packed into a foetid underground bunker. They were half-starved and many of them had been seriously beaten. Torture instruments were found hidden above a false ceiling and reports stated that some prisoners had been flayed.

Predictably, the U.S. embassy issued a statement denouncing the treatment and insisting that torture was unacceptable, while Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jafaari insisted there would be an enquiry and Hussein Kamal, deputy head of the Interior Ministry, downplayed the incident. Such denials failed to convince the intrepid Western media, which cannily pointed to Shia domination of the government, especially the Interior Ministry. A number of reports also cited rumors that the facility had been used by the Badr Brigade, the former armed wing of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq. For the majority of Western journalists, the incident is yet another example of what they claim is a wave of sectarian violence sweeping Iraq.

What the Western media has so far failed to disclose is that a strikingly similar incident occurred just a day after the nominal handover of power to Ayad Allawi’s Interim Government. On 29 June 2004, military police from the Oregon National Guard stormed the compound of the Interior Ministry itself to rescue dozens of detainees whom they had observed being tortured. As at Jadiriyah, the victims had been deprived of food and savagely beaten. Dozens more detainees were discovered in sheds, alongside instruments of torture. Some of the detainees were in a life-threatening condition and the guardsmen began to administer emergency medical care.

Most shockingly, when the guardsmen radioed for support, senior U.S. officers ordered them to stand down. After hours of tense negotiations, the guardsmen reluctantly withdrew, leaving the prisoners with their abusers.

The incident demonstrates two extremely important points. Firstly, the latest discovery is not news for U.S. authorities, who have been aware of serious abuse taking place inside Interior Ministry facilities for more than a year and taken no action to prevent it. Secondly, such abuse cannot simply be ascribed to sectarian Shia control of the Interior Ministry. In fact, many of the most senior posts at the Ministry continue to be filled by ex-Baathists, including some of those most associated with suppression of the Shia rising that followed the first Gulf War.

The practice of torture at Interior Ministry facilities is in many ways the tip of the iceberg. For the last year hundreds of bodies -- the apparent victims of extrajudicial executions -- have been turning up across Iraq, especially Baghdad. Typically, the victims are bound and blindfolded and have been dispatched with shots to the head and chest. Many of them also bear the marks of brutal torture.

The only serious investigation to have been carried out within Iraq was by an Iraqi journalist, Yasser Salihee. He pointed to the hundreds of execution victims making their way through the Baghdad morgue and highlighted the fact that in many cases those victims are known to have been arrested by gunmen in police uniforms, sporting expensive police equipment, including vehicles, weapons, and sophisticated radios. His final article was published on 27 June, three days after his own assassination at the hands of a U.S. sniper, but his allegations echo those of Sunni groups, who have accused the government of state terrorism.

The majority of specific accusations have focused on a unit called the Wolf Brigade, attached to the Interior Ministry’s Special Police Commandos. This unit, formed in autumn last year, saw its first major action in Mosul in November 2004 in what seems to have been a serious clash with resistance fighters. Dozens of bodies began to appear on the streets as the commandos conducted sweeps of the city.

More recently, in July, the Wolf Brigade is known to have been responsible for an incident in which 11 bricklayers were seized at a Baghdad hospital and locked in the back of a police vehicle in searing heat for 16 hours. Ten of the men died and doctors carrying out a post mortem concluded that the victims had also been subjected to torture, including by electrocution.

Whilst death-squad-style killings are now generally acknowledged, the perpetrators are almost always claimed to belong to Shiite militias, perhaps under the control of a Shiite-dominated Interior Ministry. Even the Wolf Brigade is linked with sectarian violence, but the reality is that the Special Police Commandos are composed of ex special-forces and Republican Guard personnel and were established by former Baathists with long histories of involvement with the CIA, under the supervision of U.S. counterinsurgency experts. One advisor was the same James Steele who previously commanded the U.S. military mission in El Salvador at the height of that country’s unspeakably dirty civil war. There, Steele was responsible for creating the ‘elite’ squads that accounted for the bulk of the army’s largely civilian casualties.

Another was Steven Casteel, the most senior U.S. advisor within the Interior Ministry and the man who successfully negotiated the withdrawal of the Oregon National Guardsmen. Some of his experience was gained in Colombia, where he was involved in the Centra Spike operations, a data-collection exercise in which lists of the associates of cocaine baron Pablo Escobar were murdered by the Los Pepes death squads. Los Pepes went on to form the nucleus for the present murderous AUC.

The U.S., largely through the CIA, has a long history of involvement with genocidal intelligence operations, from Indonesia under Suharto, through Operation Phoenix in Vietnam, to present-day Colombia. The current mass arrests in Iraq and subsequent killings bear all the hallmarks of such an operation. By analogy, one can reasonably guess that the current flood of victims will include anyone opposing U.S. hegemony, such as the hundreds of teachers and academics who have already been assassinated, as well as the human ‘waste’ generated through ‘heavy interrogation.’ A further possibility is that ordinary Sunni Iraqis are deliberately being victimized as part of a strategy of fomenting sectarian strife designed to engineer the Balkanization of Iraq. With that in mind, it is time to start asking hard questions about the role of the two British SAS men caught with a car load of explosives and accused by Iraqis of planning to attack a Shia religious festival.

According to the Guardian, one former Interior Ministry detainee claimed prisoners prayed to be transferred to Abu Ghraib. This is no commendation of U.S. treatment of prisoners, but only highlights the fact that many of the worst crimes are reserved, as they have been in Latin America, for U.S. proxies. In El Salvador Noam Chomsky noted that it was not enough for U.S.-backed paramilitaries to kill someone; instead they might be decapitated and their head placed on a spike. In Iraq similar distinctions exist. The victims of U.S.-trained death squads are not just humiliated; their eyes are gouged out, their skin is peeled off and electric drills are driven through their knees.