Tuesday, December 19, 2006

With Friends Like These....

I found a very disturbing article in the NY Times yesterday about detainees in Iraq. Here is an excerpt:

American guards arrived at the man’s cell periodically over the next several days, shackled his hands and feet, blindfolded him and took him to a padded room for interrogation, the detainee said. After an hour or two, he was returned to his cell, fatigued but unable to sleep.

The fluorescent lights in his cell were never turned off, he said. At most hours, heavy metal or country music blared in the corridor. He said he was rousted at random times without explanation and made to stand in his cell. Even lying down, he said, he was kept from covering his face to block out the light, noise and cold. And when he was released after 97 days he was exhausted, depressed and scared.

But here is the crazy party, this was not a captured insurgent. Rather it was:

...Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

At Camp Cropper, he took notes on his imprisonment and smuggled them out in a Bible.

Mr. Vance also stated:

While we were detained, we wrote a letter to the camp commandant stating that the same democratic ideals we are trying to instill in the fledgling democratic country of Iraq, from simple due process to the Magna Carta, we are absolutely, positively refusing to follow ourselves.”

I couldn't have said it better myself. If this is how we are treating Americans working in Iraq who report suspicious activity, I can only imagine what we do to everyone else.

On a similar note, I saw Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" the other night on the Daily Show, and what he had to say shocked me (I can't find the Daily Show clip, but here's a link to an interview on "Foreign Exchange"). I know there have been a lot of books about what has gone wrong in Iraq, but what this guy had to say was just bananas. Senior Arabists in the state department were not part of the rebuilding of Iraq because they were not seen as being loyal to the neo-cons, and instead we sent a bunch of people right out of college. This statistic is crazy: half of the people we sent over to rebuild Iraq had to apply for their first passport. These are not worldly people. Here's a Washington Post article about the book, and an excerpt. Apparently hummus couldn't be found, but pork and beans was the standard fare...I'm sure that won the hearts and minds of the Muslims. This makes it clearer and clearer why things have gone the way they have.

I've ordered the book. I'll let y'all know how it is.

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