Finally, many long months after it became obvious that Iraq's Shiite government, police and militias were operating death squads and torturing prisoners, the U.S. media has caught up to this story. I've been making noise about this all year (see, for example here ), and more than a year ago I wrote about it in the American Prospect.
Now it's front-page news in both the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.
The LAT version is headlined "Killings Linked to Shiite Squads in Iraqi Police Force," and it begins: "Shiite Muslim militia members have infiltrated Iraq's police force and are carrying out sectarian killings under the color of law, according to documents and scores of interviews." It's a massive, stunning, and tragic investigative coup, and it demolishes the Bush administration's pretension of creating a democracy in Iraq. Here's one excerpt:
The Al Mahdi army has a heavy presence in the regular police force, U.S. and Iraqi authorities said. One high-ranking U.S. military officer estimated that up to 90% of the 35,000 police officers working in northeast Baghdad were affiliated with Al Mahdi.
The U.S. officer said that "half of them are in a unit called 'the Punishment Committee,' " suspected of committing abuses against civilians believed to be flouting Islamic laws or the militia's authority. The officer said that Sunni Arab Muslims were frequently targeted by the committee.
Haider Albadi, spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari, confirmed the existence of the secret police squad and its possible involvement in mass slayings.
The NYT version is headlined thus: "Sunnis Accuse Iraqi Military of Kidnappings and Slayings." And it begins:
As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.
Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.
All of this follows the revelation of the torture prison operated by the government-linked Badr Brigade, the Iranian-backed militia that reportedly has 20,000 fighters. As I wrote in TomPaine. there are "our monsters.