Tuesday, September 13, 2005


The destruction of Tel Afar seems to have come to a premature end, with the armed resistance disappearing from sight. the Coalition success claim:

...troops killed 141 insurgents and captured 197 on Friday and Saturday in Tal Afar...

For a long time only we lefty (and anti-war libertarian) bloggers ranted on a lot about what's really behind such propaganda lines. But, apparently, the mess before/after Hurricane Katrina changed something in the mainstream US press, for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote stuff like:

Nearly 75 percent of all detainees arrested are freed because there is not enough evidence that they pose a threat, the Army says.

...thousands ... are sent to prisons, like the notorious Abu Ghraib facility near Baghdad, where they wait an average of six months before their release...

From the launch of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 through early last month, 42,228 Iraqi detainees had been sent into the system, and most had been released. As of Friday, there were 12,184 in detention.

...U.S. troops arrested an Iraqi because he had a poster, with Arabic lettering, showing a beheaded man. The soldiers thought it was the propaganda of terrorists and hauled him away to Abu Ghraib. Months later, the Iraqis reviewing the case quickly recognized that the poster was a benign tribute to Imam Hussein, beheaded in the 7th century and deeply revered by all Shiites... Many more Iraqis are wrongly detained based on the lies of manipulative informants, false positives in explosives tests or because they were simply passers-by swept up for being in the vicinity of an attack on U.S. troops....

Nearly every day, the U.S. military in Iraq announces the capture of "suspected terrorists" snatched during house raids, in markets and after firefights. Yet most of those arrested get released, and the insurgency persists.

"Insurgency after insurgency has shown that if you mismanage detentions you create more insurgents than you get rid of," said Anthony Cordesman of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

My notes:

  1. Don't expect the ratio of non-combattants among the 'killed insurgents' to be much lower.
  2. It's even worse than 75% of detainees, because obviously the current 12,184 also include a lot who will be released without charges, and - more gravely -
  3. people who have been tortured for a 'confession' (recall the three British Gitmo detainees who 'confessed' being the terrorists in the background on a Bin Laden video, only to be cleared by MI5 who proved they were in Manchester at the time...).
  4. I snipped parts where the sources are named: surprisingly, the US Army, and lawyers named by the Iraqi government to look into cases. But this still gives a positive spin to the story - whereas if you're Sunni, your chances of getting free after being arrested with ridiculous charges by the new Shi'a-dominated US-aligned Iraqi police are much smaller (recall what famous Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar's brother Khaled wrote about his fellow detainees).
  5. Let me put that expert's point more bluntly: considering the treatment, more 'insurgents' will leave the prison than were put in. This war can only be lost, this war can only make civil war worse.


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