Tuesday, May 15, 2007
It's Time To Pull The Plug
It's late here, and I'm tired, and I'd wanted to go to bed. But this WaPo article on the Iraqi prison and detention system is worth a mention, even if it is really depressing. Maybe even because it's really depressing.
Because you'd think that it would occur to the people running the surge in Baghdad that if you apply a massive security sweep, you're going to wind up with quite a few more detainees than you had before. About 6,500 more, to be precise, between the Iraqi prisons and American military detention facilities. Which means, of course, that you're going to need more holding facilities.
But apparently, no one considered that possibility, because there's an enormous overcrowding problem, with single-person cells housing up to six inmates, and some detainees being held in facilities for convicts, where they wait up to three months for a habeas corpus hearing that's legally required within 24 hours. Reports of torture, abuse, and forced confessions are widespread. And there's little possibility for oversight due to the farflung and poorly administered system itself.
But even the belated solution, the construction of a prison facility in eastern Baghdad, isn't really one:
The new prison space is part of a massive project called the Rusafa Law and Order Complex, a fortified compound near the Interior Ministry building that, when finished, will include a courthouse and dormitories for lawyers and judges, within a guarded perimeter. The goal is to create a second Green Zone-style haven where authorities can push through the growing backlog of criminal cases.
"This represents a small step forward -- and it must be emphasized that this is merely a foothold -- on two fronts: the political will to embrace the rule of law and the capacity to render justice through secure and legitimate proceedings," U.S. Army Col. Mark S. Martins, senior staff judge advocate, said in a statement.
It's like the actor reading from his script while the scenery is falling down all over the set. I'm curious to see what the vote will be on Feinberg's bill tomorrow. It's supposed to not have a chance in hell. Just like the war effort itself.