May 07, 2003

THIS SOUNDS WORSE THAN GUANTANAMO -- so how come nobody's been howling about it?

Some of the last 59 Iraqi soldiers to be held in Iran, out of 60,000 captured, had been imprisoned for more than two decades without communication with the outside world. "Saddam gone?" one former prisoner asked.

He was dressed in a lime green sports jacket that hung from his thin shoulders, the new clothes a parting gift from his Iranian captors. As he stood, he swayed, and then said, "I'm sorry. I have psychological damage in my brain." . . .

Hassan's hands trembled so severely that he could not light a cigarette without help from a comrade. He said he was tortured routinely -- forced to squat for hours, beaten with lengths of cable and rope, shocked by car batteries and had what he thinks was dirty water injected with a syringe into his penis. . . .

Hassan, who was sent to the front for what his superiors in the police department promised would be a three-month tour of duty, described his daily rations: "Four spoons of rice. A half cup of water. A piece of bread."

He said he saw hundreds of prisoners die, most from diseases like dysentery and tuberculosis, others from heart attacks. One of the camps had previously been a stable for animals, he said.

I don't recall any of that happening at Guantanamo, which has gotten a lot more condemnation from the human-rights establishment. And don't bother sending me a link to a press release somewhere. They "go on record" deploring this sort of stuff. But they don't launch major PR offensives about it. And that's because complaining about this sort of brutality doesn't get donors to open their wallets. Criticizing the United States does.

And that's a form of corruption, no less than oil contracts are.