Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted. (Verse 5)
Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill. (Verse 6)
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. (Verse 7)
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Verse 9)
Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (Verse 10)
More than 100 children held in a prison celebrated their freedom on Tuesday as US marines rolled into northeast Baghdad amid chaotic scenes which saw civilians loot weapons from an army compound, a US officer said.
"The children had been imprisoned because they had not joined the youth branch of the Ba'ath party," he alleged. "Some of these kids had been in there for five years."
U.S. forces have exhumed a mass grave in northwestern Iraq and uncovered the remains of hundreds of people.
Many of the bodies found at the site near al-Hatra are believed to be the bodies of Kurdish women and children thought slaughtered by the Saddam Hussein regime.
US officials say there may be as many as 260 mass graves in Iraq, containing the bodies of at least 300,000 people.
Forty sites had already been confirmed, said Sandra Hodgkinson, who heads the coalition's mass grave action plan.
For the first time ever, scientists have been able to prove the use of chemical weapons through the analysis of environmental residues taken years after such an attack occurred. In a development that could have far-reaching consequences for the enforcement of the chemical weapons treaty, soil samples taken from bomb craters near a Kurdish village in northern Iraq by a team of forensic scientists have been found to contain trace evidence of nerve gas.
Across Iraq, coalition troops are finding glimpses of past horrors — suspected torture chambers, secret police headquarters, Iraqis who reveal scars to show the cruelty of Saddam Hussein's rule carved onto their bodies.
At a prison in Basra, Iraqis showed journalists a white stone jail known as the "White Lion" where they claim Saddam's secret police for decades tortured inmates with beatings, mutilations, electric shocks and chemical baths.
For two decades, top Iraqi officials have committed massive crimes and atrocities -- genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. This list includes far more than the common refrain that Hussein and his associates gassed their own people, particularly at Halabja in 1988.
The criminal record includes other serious war crimes during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s; the genocidal Anfal campaign against Iraqi Kurds in 1987 and 1988; the invasion and occupation of Kuwait in 1990; the violent suppression of the 1991 uprising that led to 30,000 or more mostly civilian deaths; the draining of the southern marshes during the 1990s, which ethnically cleansed Hussein's southern flank of thousands of Iraqi Shiites; more ethnic cleansing of the non-Arab population of Kirkuk and other northern Iraqi areas; and the summary executions of thousands of political opponents.
Among the most horrific features of the Iraqi campaigns against the Kurds in the 1980s was the regime's resort to chemical weapons strikes against civilian populations. On April 16, 1987, a chemical raid on the Balisan valley killed dozens of civilians; in its wake, "some seventy men were taken away in buses and, like the Barzanis, never seen again. The surviving women and children were dumped on the plain outside Erbil and left to fend for themselves."
Hundreds of people, including political prisoners, were reportedly executed; some may have been extrajudicially executed. Death sentences continued to be imposed, including for non-violent offences. The victims included suspected political opponents, members of opposition groups, military officers suspected of involvement in alleged coup attempts and other people convicted of criminal offences.
The fate of thousands of people who “disappeared” in previous years remained unknown. They included hundreds of suspected members of opposition groups and their relatives who were arrested when Iraqi government and KDP forces took control of Arbil in August 1996; thousands of Shi'a Muslims arrested in the aftermath of the March 1991 uprising; more than 600 Kuwaiti and other nationals arrested by Iraqi forces during the occupation of Kuwait in 1990 and 1991 and believed to be held in Iraq; an estimated 100,000 Kurdish civilians who “disappeared” in 1988 in the so-called “Operation Anfal”; and thousands of Shi'a Muslim Arabs and Feily Kurds who were arrested on the basis of their Iranian descent during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
There were times in the past when the killing was so intense that humanitarian intervention would have been justified—for example, during the 1988 Anfal genocide, in which the Iraqi government slaughtered some 100,000 Kurds. Indeed, Human Rights Watch, though still in its infancy and not yet working in the Middle East in 1988, did advocate a form of military intervention in 1991 after we had begun addressing Iraq. As Iraqi Kurds fleeing Saddam Hussein’s brutal repression of the post-Gulf War uprising were stranded and dying in harsh winter weather on Turkey’s mountainous border, we advocated the creation of a no-fly zone in northern Iraq so they could return home without facing renewed genocide. There were other moments of intense killing as well, such as the suppression of the uprisings in 1991. But on the eve of the latest Iraq war, no one contends that the Iraqi government was engaged in killing of anywhere near this magnitude, or had been for some time. “Better late than never” is not a justification for humanitarian intervention, which should be countenanced only to stop mass murder, not to punish its perpetrators, desirable as punishment is in such circumstances.
But if Saddam Hussein committed mass atrocities in the past, wasn’t his overthrow justified to prevent his resumption of such atrocities in the future? No. Human Rights Watch accepts that military intervention may be necessary not only to stop ongoing slaughter but also to prevent future slaughter, but the future slaughter must be imminent. To justify the extraordinary remedy of military force for preventive humanitarian purposes, there must be evidence that large-scale slaughter is in preparation and about to begin unless militarily stopped. But no one seriously claimed before the war that the Saddam Hussein government was planning imminent mass killing, and no evidence has emerged that it was. There were claims that Saddam Hussein, with a history of gassing Iranian soldiers and Iraqi Kurds, was planning to deliver weapons of mass destruction through terrorist networks, but these allegations were entirely speculative; no substantial evidence has yet emerged. There were also fears that the Iraqi government might respond to an invasion with the use of chemical or biological weapons, perhaps even against its own people, but no one seriously suggested such use as an imminent possibility in the absence of an invasion.
In stating that the killing in Iraq did not rise to a level that justified humanitarian intervention, we are not insensitive to the awful plight of the Iraqi people. We are aware that summary executions occurred with disturbing frequency in Iraq up to the end of Saddam Hussein’s rule, as did torture and other brutality. Such atrocities should be met with public, diplomatic, and economic pressure, as well as prosecution. But before taking the substantial risk to life that is inherent in any war, mass slaughter should be taking place or imminent. That was not the case in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in March 2003.
Does even a democracy have nevertheless to countenance such methods when its back is to the wall? Other democracies have not thought so: many of their governments have refused to pass illiberal laws in response to terrorism, and where some have sought to do so their judiciaries have pointed out that if the reaction to terrorists is to abandon the rule of law, terrorism will have achieved an irreversible victory.
The supreme court of India in 2003 held that India's prevention of terrorism laws must respect the fundamental human rights recognised in the constitution. The Israeli supreme court, under its remarkable president Aharon Barak, has - not too successfully, it must be said - told the government and army in a series of judgments that while democracy is fated to fight with one hand tied behind its back, "none the less, it has the upper hand. Preserving the rule of law and recognition of individual liberties ... strengthen its spirit, and this strength allows it to overcome its difficulties". In this country the law lords, rejecting the legacy of wartime decisions permitting arbitrary executive detention, have found detention without trial a greater evil than the evil it is intended to challenge.
Perhaps the strongest evidence that the abuse of prisoners in US hands has been systemic, not aberrant, is the simplest: it is the fact that those involved felt it was quite safe to be photographed repeatedly while committing it. Personnel who fear disciplinary reprisal, or even disapproval, do not usually make a visual record of their conduct. If it says something for Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, that he twice tendered his resignation over the Abu Ghraib disclosures, it says rather more about the Bush administration that his offer was on both occasions rejected.
The outcome of the events tracked in these two books, for which both men bear responsibility, is a world order of which the icon has become a hooded figure, its arms outstretched in torment. The apologists who blame a few bad apples in the barrel might do well to remember what a few bad apples do: they make the whole barrel rotten.
“Of concern, DOD interrogators impersonating Supervisory Special Agents of the FBI told a detainee that REDACTED. These same interrogation teams then REDACTED. The detainee was also told by this interrogation team REDACTED. These tactics have produced no intelligence of a threat neutralization nature to date and CITF believes that techniques have destroyed any chance of prosecuting this detainee. If this detainee is ever released or his story made public in any way, DOD interrogators will not be held accountable because these torture techniques were done the “FBI” interrogators. The FBI will be left holding the bag before the public.”
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