Just in time for the third anniversary of the Iraq war, The New York Times offers a bombshell account Sunday on a secret U.S. torture facility in that country that remained in business even after the Abu Ghraib abuses became known.
The article by Eric Schmitt and Carolyn Marshall reveals that an elite Special Operations forces unit took one of Saddam Hussein's former torture centers near Baghdad Airport and made it their own. They called it the Black Room.
"In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball," the reporters relate.
How many of these damn things are we gonna find before we hold the people in charge accountable for the obvious, namely that this torture business was ordered from the top? And just what sort of stuff went down there, you might wonder? What kind of "fraternity-style pranks," to channel Rush Limbaugh?
"Placards posted by soldiers at the detention area advised, 'NO BLOOD, NO FOUL.' The slogan, as one Defense Department official explained, reflected an adage adopted by Task Force 6-26: 'If you don't make them bleed, they can't prosecute for it.' According to Pentagon specialists who worked with the unit, prisoners at Camp Nama often disappeared into a detention black hole, barred from access to lawyers or relatives, and confined for weeks without charges. 'The reality is, there were no rules there,' another Pentagon official said.
What bothered me the most about reading this wasn't the paintball. It wasn't the fact that we continued Saddam's work in this awful place. It wasn't even the line about "making them bleed."
It was that the story of Americans torturing people didn't upset me as much as it used to.