The United Nations special investigator into torture has reported that torture in Iraq may now be even worse than it was under Saddam Hussein. The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says. One US Army major was quoted as saying that Baghdad is now a Hobbesian world where everybody is at war with everybody else and the only protection is self-protection.
"The situation as far as torture is concerned now in Iraq is totally out of hand," said Manfred Nowak. "The situation is so bad many people say it is worse than it had been in the times of Saddam Hussein."The whole idea of American intervention in Iraq was sold to us on the idea that the regime run by Saddam was brutal and that it had to be replaced.
The bodies in Baghdad's morgue " often bear signs of severe torture including acid-induced injuries and burns caused by chemical substances, missing skin, broken bones (back, hands and legs), missing eyes and wounds caused by power drills or nails", the UN report said. Those not killed by these abuses are shot in the head.
Human rights groups say torture is practised in prisons run by the US as well as those run by the Interior and Defence ministries and the numerous Sunni and Shia militias.
We now find that what has replaced it is even more brutal than the regime of Saddam himself, certainly where torture is concerned. That torture has become so commonplace can't be a surprise to anyone given the fact that Bush is now arguing for it's use by CIA agents whilst interrogating terrorist subjects in the USA.
Indeed, the acceptance of torture as a valid tool has become one of the hallmarks of the War on Terror and makes a sham of the trial of Lynndie England and others who were identified as a "few bad apples" who's behaviour we were told was a variance of the norm.
It's very hard to believe that based on the evidence that is now emerging.
The truth appears to be that, since 9-11, a decision was taken amongst the neo-cons "to take the gloves off" and that this decision now pervades every inch of the US's reach and manifests itself wherever the US has influence.
Indeed, this new US approach is evident in the story emerging that, post 9-11, the US threatened to bomb Pakistan "back to the stone age" if it didn't accede to US requests and aid in the war against the Taliban.
The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says.
One US Army major was quoted as saying that Baghdad is now a Hobbesian world where everybody is at war with everybody else and the only protection is self-protection.
Talking to a correspondent of the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes to be shown on Sunday evening, General Musharraf claims that the warning was delivered to his own director of intelligence by the US Assistant Secretary of State, Richard Armitage. "The intelligence director told me that [Armitage] said, 'Be prepared to be bombed. Be prepared to go back to the Stone Age'," General Musharraf said, according to excerpts of the interview released by CBS last night.There was once a day when it would have been unthinkable to behave this way towards another nation that possessed the nuclear bomb. However, post 9-11, the gloves came off and the unthinkable not only became thinkable, it became official US policy.
Shortly after 9/11, Pakistan indeed ended its support of the Taliban and became a frontline ally of America in the "war on terror". However, General Musharraf makes no secret of his distaste for the strong-arm tactics he faced from Mr Armitage. "I think it was a very rude remark," he says in the interview. "One has to think and take actions in the interests of the nation, and that's what I did."
If they'll treat a fellow nuclear power with such disdain, we can only imagine how they will treat suspects who they believe are clandestine terrorists. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that torture is actually worse now than it was under Saddam.
The present US administration seem to pride themselves on the fact that they are not tied up by "quaint" rules. Just as they didn't need "a permission slip" to invade Iraq, so they believe that they alone have the guts to do what is necessary to win their War on Terror.
And it is increasingly obvious that this now includes torture as a routine practice.
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