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July 15, 2003
WHILE CHECKING OUT JESSE WALKER'S BLOG for a piece that I'm writing on low power radio, I ran across this story from the New York Times dated July 6. It says that the "children's prison" liberated by allied forces in Iraq was really an orphanage, but that the troops mistook it for a jail. (Must've been pretty Oliver Twistian to inspire that sort of mistake). I missed that story when it came out, so I want to note it here.
The children's mass graves, however, still appear to be genuine.
UPDATE: Hmm. Reader Mitchell Kaufmann emails: "Glenn, what kind of orphanage has parents and relatives outside eagerly greeting the children?"
And sure enough, the original report says: "There were parents running up, so happy to have their kids back." Something's wrong here. The original story says that the kids were imprisoned because they hadn't joined the youth branch of the Ba'ath party. The new story, by Tyler Hicks, doesn't explain any of this, or name any sources.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Katz has more on this, and the Times story looks a bit dubious.
YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Darren Kaplan points out that there was a U.N. weapons' inspector's report of children's prisons in Iraq on record before the war started: "It appeared to be a prison for children — toddlers up to pre-adolescents — whose only crime was to be the offspring of those who have spoken out politically against the regime of Saddam Hussein. It was a horrific scene."
But then, those guys said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction, too.