Friday, March 30, 2007

if it’s sweeps, why are we seeing reruns?

BAGHDAD, Wednesday, March 28 — Hundreds of Iraqis detained in the Baghdad security crackdown have been crammed into two detention centers run by the Defense Ministry that were designed to hold only dozens of people, a government monitoring group said Tuesday.

The numbers suggested that the security plan’s emphasis on aggressive block-by-block sweeps of troubled neighborhoods in the capital had flooded Iraq’s frail detention system, and appeared to confirm the fears of some human rights advocates who have been predicting that the new plan would aggravate already poor conditions.

. . . .

In one of the detention centers, in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, 705 people were packed into an area built for 75, according to Maan Zeki Khadum, an official with the monitoring group. The other center, on Muthana Air Base, held 272 people in a space designed to hold about 50, he said, and included two women and four boys who were being held in violation of regulations that require juveniles to be separated from adults and males from females.

In an interview, Mr. Khadum said a majority of the detainees at the two detention centers had been picked up while the security plan, which began in mid-February, was being put into effect.

He said the detention system had been suffering from a problem of “fast detention and very slow release, especially for those who are not guilty.” His group includes 17 lawyers and is working under a government committee run by the Shiite politician Ahmad Chalabi.

Back in 2003, broad and indiscriminate "coalition" sweeps caused massive overcrowding at Abu Ghraib. The situation back then, it has since been reported, contributed to the nasty environment that allowed, tolerated, even encouraged, the infamous prisoner abuse, at the very least (though no small thing), and, by some estimations, the wholesale roundups, the shoe-horning together of Ba’athists, common criminals, Republican Guard, “jihadis,” and innocent bystanders served as an incubator for the insurgency.

So add another brewing disaster to already disastrous escalation “strategy.”

And Chalabi? Chalabi!?! This is the man in charge of oversight for this catch and hold. . . and hold. . . and hold detention policy? Has the “coalition” run out of sleazebag wannabe strongmen?

Are lessons ever learned? Ever?


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