Sunday's Oregonian has an extraordinary report about how a national guardsman looking through his sniper scope in Baghdad spotted police from the Interior Ministry torturing detainees:
He immediately radioed for help. Soon after, a team of Oregon Army National Guard soldiers swept into the yard and found dozens of Iraqi detainees who said they had been beaten, starved and deprived of water for three days.
In a nearby building, the soldiers counted dozens more prisoners and what appeared to be torture devices -- metal rods, rubber hoses, electrical wires and bottles of chemicals. Many of the Iraqis, including one identified as a 14-year-old boy, had fresh welts and bruises across their back and legs. [...] At least one had a gunshot wound to the knee.
The soldiers disarmed the Iraqi jailers, moved the prisoners into the shade, released their handcuffs and administered first aid. Lt. Col. Daniel Hendrickson of Albany, Ore., the highest ranking American at the scene, radioed for instructions.
Hendrickson's superior officers told him to return the prisoners to their abusers and immediately withdraw. It was June 29 -- Iraq's first official day as a sovereign country since the U.S.-led invasion.
This stuff is disturbing in and of itself. But then there's the reason all the men were being tortured in the first place: They were apparently detainees picked up in interim prime minister (and strongman) Iyad Allawi's much heralded crime sweep a few weeks ago. Let freedom reign!
P.S.: None of the big papers have picked up the Oregonian's report. I can't blame them for that. But there does seem to be plenty room for follow-up. Namely, Oregonian suggests the Interior Minister was behind this stuff. Is that true? And who is he?