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Inside the hell of Saddam's torture chambers
The Times ^ | April 9, 2003 | Daniel McGrory

Posted on 04/08/2003 2:55:08 PM PDT by MadIvan

ABID HUSSAN took one step inside the foul-smelling prison cell and began to shake. Beads of sweat ran down his forehead and behind his gold-rimmed spectacles. The 45-year-old shopkeeper pointed to the electric cables hanging from the ceiling where President Saddam Hussein’s security police would torture him three times a day.

People tried to elbow their way inside this impossibly small 6ft by 4ft torture chamber. They were anxious to sift through the documents carpeting the floor to see if it gave a clue as to what became of a loved one, or friend, who had been dragged inside here and was never heard of again.

Until yesterday, when British troops finished their search for booby traps inside the State Security headquarters, no one in Basra would have dared to set foot in this building. It was forbidden even to walk on the pavement outside what residents nicknamed “the white lion”, a big white building, a fearsome creature that devoured people. But everyone knew what went on behind the thick concrete walls.

The torture cells lay in squat, rectangular rows in landscaped grounds tucked behind a six-storey tower block, where floor after floor of filing cabinets were stuffed with the records of untold numbers of citizens.

One old man studying the jumble of paperwork pointed out that the files with red edges were of those who had been executed.

Saddam’s jailers were meticulous record-keepers. They pinned photographs inside the documents showing how the prisoner was bearing up to various stages of torture. They finished with pictures of the battered and bloodied body after execution.

Standing inside his former cell at the end of a dark corridor, Mr Hussan described, in a low whisper, how he had been seized in the street in March 1999 because he was standing close to a prominent Shia cleric in Basra.

“I didn’t know the man, I never spoke to the man and I’m not even a Shia, but they held me in this stinking hole for ten months,” he said.

The only dim light came from a small, barred window. There was a hook in the ceiling and Mr Hussan demonstrated how his hands had been tied behind his back and how he had been suspended from it for up to three hours a day.

He lifted his shirt to show the scars and weals on his painfully thin legs where he had been whipped with electric cable. “All day and night you would hear terrible screams, and some were from children.”

After a couple of minutes he could not bear to stay in the room any longer and dashed off around the corner to what he called “the cages”: long, red-painted wire-mesh cells, where inmates would be forced to watch others being tortured as they awaited their turn to be dipped into a rusty metal bath and electrocuted.

Around the edge of this torture yard were cells for some of those sentenced to death, including a couple where an adult would have had to bend double to fit inside. There were prisoners here until five days ago, when their captors, realising that British tanks were coming, abandoned the centre.

Walking around the centre yesterday, nervous locals pointed discreetly to a couple of heavily built men who they suspected of working there and who had, perhaps, returned to cover up their work.

To try to disguise the true purpose of this building, Saddam placed a secondary school across the road in what was the fashionable suburb of Ashar. On the corner were the courts of justice, although most punishment was meted inside the white lion out without the need for a trial.

Raad Azoor, 32, waved a document that he said, showed how the torturers had executed his brother, an army officer, in 1991, claiming that he was a traitor for questioning an order over the invasion of Kuwait.

“There is not a house in Basra that has not had someone taken to this place. Some were freed. Thousands were not,” he said, spitting at an official crest lying amid the debris.

These were not just the wild claims of those delighted to see the back of a cruel regime. Proof of systematic, state-orchestrated violence against citizens was strewn across the courtyard, with documents, files, signed confessions and interrogations being blown around by the hot wind.

One file being trodden underfoot involved an 11-year-old boy accused of “treason”. His crimes, apparently, included writing seditious messages on a school exercise book.

There was a separate section for women, with girls as young as 13 included in records in a red-bound book recovered by one man who clutched it to his chest for safekeeping.

The trouble for the allies who might want to use such evidence in future war crimes hearings is that most who stampeded through the skeleton of Basra’s most-hated building were only too happy to start bonfires in every office, using the prison records.

Every few minutes flame and smoke belched through another broken window as looters finished cannibalising the electric fittings and water pipes, then decided that what they could not steal they would burn.

On the street, the crews of a couple of British armoured personnel carriers paused briefly to watch the frenzied crowd hurling filing cabinets from top-floor windows, then accelerated away. All day a growing number of people, finally believing that the grip of Saddam’s regime is finished in Basra, stumbled over the rubble for a tour of the white lion.

There were those like Abu al-Mansoori, who was jailed here with his wife for five months for attending prayers in a Shia mosque and who argued with those who wanted this loathed symbol razed to the ground. “Leave it,” he said, “and let people truly see what bad things were done to us. It is truly incredible what was done in here.”


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Foreign Affairs; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; US: District of Columbia; United Kingdom; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: atrocities; basra; blair; bush; children; childrensprisons; documents; embeddedreport; executions; humanrights; iraq; photographs; prisonerabuse; saddam; saddamhussein; torture; torturechamber; uk; us; war; warlist; whitelion
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We've seen this before. Nazi Germany, Stalin's USSR, North Korea, and Cuba. It's happened before. And each time, we are shocked and horrified. We must remember that it is a never-ending fight to stop this from ever happening again.

Regards, Ivan


1 posted on 04/08/2003 2:55:08 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: hoosiermama; Dutchgirl; Freedom'sWorthIt; Carolina; patricia; annyokie; ...
Bump!
2 posted on 04/08/2003 2:55:22 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan
"All day and night you would hear terrible screams, and some were from children."

Evil.

3 posted on 04/08/2003 2:58:32 PM PDT by thatdewd (Billboards for the rich, spraycans for the poor, and taglines for the rest...)
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To: MadIvan
God bless you Dubya, for putting a stop to this Demon!
4 posted on 04/08/2003 2:58:50 PM PDT by Nagual
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To: MadIvan
God bless Dubya and Tony Blair stop this Demon Saddam

HEY IVAN rack Blair he telling press conference that yes US and UK going help on reconstruction of Iraq UN COULD HELP IF THEY WISH

YOU KNOW THEY WISH
5 posted on 04/08/2003 3:00:18 PM PDT by SevenofNine (GAME OVER Saddam your a** is grass)
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To: MadIvan
Just saw on MSNBC a walk-through of a prison torture chamber. An ex-prisoner said he was in for 8 yrs. for committing the crime of praying too much.

The MSNBC reporter showed some cells but then said, "There is much more to this chamber, but we are not going to show it." Just damn! Why not? The more this gets out the better. Oh, I forgot, we are too sensitive!
6 posted on 04/08/2003 3:00:56 PM PDT by whadizit
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To: SevenofNine
The UN won't hang the bastards who did this. We will see to it that it occurs.

Regards, Ivan

7 posted on 04/08/2003 3:01:25 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan
The blood and pain of all those who spent time in this ghastly hellhole is on those of the left. The apologists, willfully blind, co-travelers, etc.
8 posted on 04/08/2003 3:02:00 PM PDT by AmericaUnited
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To: MadIvan
This reminds me of another of the nightmares I've had since we've started hearing the details about this regime. Officers with guns are trying to shove me into a tiny cage in a courtyard and all around me are cages with people in them, crouching because the cages are only 3 feet high. I know they'll kill me if I don't get in the cage but I'm thinking perhaps it's better to be killed right away. And it's a beautiful day out, in my dream, the sky is piercing blue and there is a breeze.
9 posted on 04/08/2003 3:02:47 PM PDT by Anamensis
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To: MadIvan
I only hope the bastards who did this have not slipped into civilian clothes and obscurity.
10 posted on 04/08/2003 3:03:00 PM PDT by Sender
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To: MadIvan
We must remember that it is a never-ending fight to stop this from ever happening again.

We must remember that it was the Clintons, Sarandons and Sheens of the world who defended this stuff and would be more than happy to subject us to it if we allow them the opportunity!

11 posted on 04/08/2003 3:03:55 PM PDT by Onelifetogive
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To: MadIvan
OHH Ivan yeah oops SORRY THIS IS UN we talking about

NEVER MIND Did you hear AP wire reporting that US soldier found JAILED Iraqi kids on one of prison YOUNG as 12 years according to AP wire
12 posted on 04/08/2003 3:04:05 PM PDT by SevenofNine (GAME OVER Saddam your a** is grass)
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To: thatdewd
It makes me want to stomp the liberals who would use opposition to the war as a cudgel on our president. They would let this lovely slice of Hell continue to exist, if only they could hurt Dubya.

Stupid bastards.
13 posted on 04/08/2003 3:04:30 PM PDT by Frank_Discussion (Time is the fire in which we burn...)
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To: MadIvan
Why didn't we do something about this before? People knew things were bad in Iraq but I guarantee the UN knew more! This war might have started out disarming Saddam but as far as I am concerned, it's freeing these people that is my main focus. Does anyone think that this is going on in other countries as well?
14 posted on 04/08/2003 3:04:46 PM PDT by Arpege92
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To: Anamensis
I read a lot of history, and the subject of evil, man's cruelty to man, comes up quite often. I should not be surprised by Saddam's behaviour - as I say, we've seen this before. But yet each time, each revelation of evil is a shock.

It also throws people like Baghdad Bob into a new light. He's no longer comical to me. For his defence of this evil regime, his head should be severed from his neck and stuck on a pike.

Regards, Ivan

15 posted on 04/08/2003 3:06:21 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan
Thank God this is ending here! Whose next? Cuba, NK, Lybia...?
16 posted on 04/08/2003 3:06:31 PM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Liberate Iraq! Support Our Troops!)
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To: MadIvan
"The trouble for the allies who might want to use such evidence in future war crimes hearings is that most who stampeded through the skeleton of Basra’s most-hated building were only too happy to start bonfires in every office, using the prison records. "

huh? did they kill all the smart ones so that the only ones left were all too stupid to realize what they were doing?

17 posted on 04/08/2003 3:06:31 PM PDT by monday
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To: MadIvan
Meticulous record-keepers? So were the Khmer Rouge. So were the Nazis. And the KGB files are of legendary thoroughness.

If we can get our hands on the employment records of this organization it may help ensure that these guys don't come back. We could, of course, see that they end up in the hands of the new Iraqi government and the victims of the old one...but hey, the UN might object to that...

18 posted on 04/08/2003 3:07:33 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: SevenofNine
It's not the first time, Seven. Stalin would imprison children as young as 12 and charge them to the same sentences as adults.

Then as now, the Leftists were left scrambling for an explanation - in Stalin's day, they said that because of the superiority of the socialist system, children developed faster into adults.

I wonder what excuse the anti-war people will come up with this time.

Regards, Ivan

19 posted on 04/08/2003 3:08:03 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: MadIvan
Its not a never-ending fight. When Christ's Kingdom is established, evil on this planet will END FOREVER!!!! And it will be here within seven years. I was dead-on in predicting how quickly this war will be over, and I am even more confident in this statement. I have spiritual intelligence operatives that give me a lot of confidence in this prediction.

Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

20 posted on 04/08/2003 3:08:05 PM PDT by Russell Scott (Iraqi soldier, is it really worth dying for the Butcher of Baghdad?)
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To: Anamensis
Try some warm milk before going to bed or you're never going to make it through what's yet to be divulged.

Leni

21 posted on 04/08/2003 3:08:52 PM PDT by MinuteGal (THIS JUST IN ! Astonishing fare reduction for FReeps Ahoy Cruise! Check it out, pronto!)
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To: MadIvan
I have a problem with the British allowing records to be destroyed. We still have a missing pilot from the Gulf War and the Kuwaitis still have many that were taken prisoner and not returned.

22 posted on 04/08/2003 3:08:53 PM PDT by whadizit
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To: MadIvan
What can one say each day as these atrocities are revealed? What is most horrible is that they have been known, well known, by the heads of states like France, Germany and Russia. This reveals much about the hearts of these leaders.
23 posted on 04/08/2003 3:09:03 PM PDT by Dolphy
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To: Frank_Discussion
They would let this lovely slice of Hell continue to exist, if only they could hurt Dubya.

Worth repeating.

24 posted on 04/08/2003 3:09:29 PM PDT by thatdewd (Billboards for the rich, spraycans for the poor, and taglines for the rest...)
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To: Arpege92
"Does anyone think that this is going on in other countries as well?"

In North Korea it is even worse.

25 posted on 04/08/2003 3:10:19 PM PDT by monday
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To: MadIvan; rhema; BibChr
There were those like Abu al-Mansoori, who was jailed here with his wife for five months for attending prayers in a Shia mosque and who argued with those who wanted this loathed symbol razed to the ground. “Leave it,” he said, “and let people truly see what bad things were done to us. It is truly incredible what was done in here.”

Calling all puerile protesters: Would you care to comment on this article? Probably not. Your morally and intellectually vacuous "comparisons" of Bush and Saddam are growing more laughably moronic by the moment.

26 posted on 04/08/2003 3:10:21 PM PDT by Caleb1411
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To: whadizit
The records should not be destroyed - once Basra is secure, the first job is to get the Royal Marines to seal off the place and gather up the evidence.

Regards, Ivan

27 posted on 04/08/2003 3:10:26 PM PDT by MadIvan
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To: whadizit
last night the Alex Witt dimwit gal was anchoring MSNBC and had that pee-wee brain Newsweek weeinie and were whining about how much the Arab street hates America because, as a Tank carefully positioned itself on a bridge to shoot at the Foreign Ministry, they said "won't they be angry watching US desintegrate this entire country?". I switched to CNN and they were having a similar US-hatefest with a reporter trapped in Baghdad talking about how the people like things under Saddam and didn't want to be liberated.
28 posted on 04/08/2003 3:10:41 PM PDT by Steven W.
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To: MadIvan
We'll have to be quicker than the indigenous Iraqi victims if we wish to exact justice on these monsters. My preference is that matters are "handled locally" by those "most familiar" with what took place over the years....
29 posted on 04/08/2003 3:11:10 PM PDT by tracer (/b>)
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To: MadIvan
All done with the full support of Ed Asner, Susan Sarandon, Mike Farell, Matt Damon, George Clooney,Tim Robbins, Martin Sheen, Sean Penn,David Ducovney, Samuel Jackson,Lauren Hutton, ANSWER.
30 posted on 04/08/2003 3:11:20 PM PDT by Kay Soze (For every 100 Osamas created in the fight on terrorism - we shall elect one more "W")
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To: MinuteGal
Warm milk??? My god, woman, that'll give me nightmares all by itself!
31 posted on 04/08/2003 3:11:29 PM PDT by Anamensis
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To: MadIvan
Horror Bump!
32 posted on 04/08/2003 3:13:12 PM PDT by TheLion
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To: MadIvan
I guess I just don't expect it to happen anymore! I mean... aren't we civilized now? I guess not.
33 posted on 04/08/2003 3:13:20 PM PDT by Anamensis
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To: Sender
I only hope the bastards who did this have not slipped into civilian clothes and obscurity.

Their faces will NOT be forgotten by those who survived, and they will never be able to hide.

34 posted on 04/08/2003 3:14:39 PM PDT by thatdewd (Billboards for the rich, spraycans for the poor, and taglines for the rest...)
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To: Russell Scott
"I have spiritual intelligence operatives that give me a lot of confidence in this prediction. "

hehe.. you have angels on the payroll? sorry..just struck me as funny;-)

35 posted on 04/08/2003 3:15:41 PM PDT by monday
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To: MadIvan
Ivan, why is Centcom not setting rules for destruction of evidence? I feel sorry for anyone reading this article that is missing someone in Iraq.
36 posted on 04/08/2003 3:16:17 PM PDT by whadizit
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To: MadIvan
"Saddam’s jailers were meticulous record-keepers."

Sounds like Dachau and Auschwitz... Is anybody surprised???

37 posted on 04/08/2003 3:17:13 PM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: Dolphy
What is most horrible is that they have been known, well known, by the heads of states like France, Germany and Russia. This reveals much about the hearts of these leaders.

Does that include Reagan, who subsidized Saddam?
38 posted on 04/08/2003 3:17:19 PM PDT by Belial
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To: MadIvan
If lierals, the "anti-war" crowd and the UN had their way, this would still be going on today and for years to come.

We saved untold thousands, if not millions of Iraqis from this fate.
39 posted on 04/08/2003 3:17:32 PM PDT by FairOpinion
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To: anotherGerman
ping
40 posted on 04/08/2003 3:17:39 PM PDT by vbmoneyspender
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To: MadIvan
Sounds like Hillery's bedroom chambers.
41 posted on 04/08/2003 3:18:42 PM PDT by RetiredArmy
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To: MadIvan
This is what these people have in mind for us. If Bush had not taken the courageous stand that he took, they just might have pulled it off.
42 posted on 04/08/2003 3:18:54 PM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: Billthedrill
The people running the torture chambers at the jail were meticulous record-keepers, but somehow the peaceniks would have us believe that the people in charge of chemical and biological weapons weren't, and that the missing 10,000 gallons of anthrax was destroyed along with all records of its destruction.
43 posted on 04/08/2003 3:19:37 PM PDT by mvpel (Michael Pelletier)
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To: Steven W.
"....Alex Witt dimwit gal......that pee-wee brain..."

Are you talking about Jonathan Alter? He is just another bed-wetting sissy liberal who still has his baby fat!

I saw that piece and, surprisingly, he eventually came around to say that the U.S. would not target journalists. How painful that must have been for him to admit that.
44 posted on 04/08/2003 3:20:24 PM PDT by whadizit
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To: Belial
To Post @ 38. I listened to an interview with an Iraqui exhile the other night with Greta. He spoke of Saddam in the early days. This guy was one of Saddam's nuke builders. He ran after the nuke plant was bombed. But, he spoke that in the beginning Saddam was a nice guy. Was not that mean or brutal. He said as time went on, Saddam changed and got worse and worse. Since I don't know and this guy lived there and suffered it, I will take his word for it. But, he said Saddam was ok back in the very beginning. That was back when we chose the side of Iraq over that of Iran who was holding our people thanks to the stupidity of Jimmy Carter. So, at some point you take sides. In this case we took sides over the lesser of the two evils. That way, you hope to neutralize one of them and you can take care of the other one yourself. But, the Iraq-Iran war kind of ended in a tie.
45 posted on 04/08/2003 3:22:23 PM PDT by RetiredArmy
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To: MadIvan; FairOpinion; Dolphy; Billthedrill; Arpege92; SevenofNine; whadizit
Ivan, I know you've seen this post before, but I believe many here have not:

Scott Ritter: In His Own Words (9/14/02)

You've spoke about having seen the children's prisons in Iraq. Can you describe what you saw there?

The prison in question is at the General Security Services headquarters, which was inspected by my team in Jan. 1998. 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. Actually I'm not going to describe what I saw there because what I saw was so horrible that it can be used by those who would want to promote war with Iraq, and right now I'm waging peace.


46 posted on 04/08/2003 3:23:43 PM PDT by nicmarlo
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To: MadIvan
"One file being trodden underfoot involved an 11-year-old boy accused of “treason”. His crimes, apparently, included writing seditious messages on a school exercise book." "There was a separate section for women, with included in records in a red-bound book recovered by one man who clutched it to his chest for safekeeping."

Torture Susan Sarandon and Martin sheen instead!!!

47 posted on 04/08/2003 3:23:44 PM PDT by Kay Soze (For every 100 Osamas created in the fight on terrorism - we shall elect one more "W")
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To: tracer
"...matters are handled locally..."

I know, but these people have got to learn about law and order and civilized ways of dealing with criminals. They have had no experience with it. It will be difficult, but we cannot, for the future of these people, sit back and allow them to tear these goons up like wild animals. I may be wrong, but that's how I feel.
48 posted on 04/08/2003 3:24:00 PM PDT by whadizit
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To: whadizit
Just saw on MSNBC a walk-through of a prison torture chamber. An ex-prisoner said he was in for 8 yrs. for committing the crime of praying too much.

The MSNBC reporter showed some cells but then said, "There is much more to this chamber, but we are not going to show it." Just damn! Why not? The more this gets out the better. Oh, I forgot, we are too sensitive!

Oh man, I couldn't agree more!

The patronizing attitude of these networks drives me up an effin wall.

Report the whole story.

49 posted on 04/08/2003 3:24:04 PM PDT by Ken H
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To: whadizit
I have a problem with the British allowing records to be destroyed.

I've heard Iraq experts say that records were usually made in duplicate or triplicate, for forwarding to regional and national command centers. I'm sure Saddam & sons enjoyed looking at the torture records.

50 posted on 04/08/2003 3:24:11 PM PDT by browardchad
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