Iraqi officials made the announcement Tuesday, two days after U.S. troops surrounded the Interior Ministry compound where the detainees were being held in an underground cell.
Neither the U.S. military nor the Iraqi government would comment on whether the American forces found the cell.
(Iraqi Deputy Interior Minister Hussein Kamal told CNN:) "I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating, one or two detainees were paralysed and some had their skin peeled off various parts of their bodies."
Kamal told Reuters news agency that the treatment was "totally unacceptable."
Totally unacceptable, Kamal? How long did it take you to come to that conclusion? The only time I ever heard about such abominable practice was in a proto-historical account of Mongolian torture methodology used against the Japanese in the 1930s, as told in gruesome detail by Haruki Murakami in The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. From Chapter 13:
"They do a small area at a time," said the Russian officer. "They have to work slowly if they want to remove the skin cleanly, without any scratches. If, in the meantime, you feel you want to say something, please let me know. Then you won't have to die. Our man here has done this several times, and never once has he failed to make the person talk. Keep that in mind. The sooner we stop, the better for both of us."
Holding his knife, the bearlike Mongolian officer looked at Yamamoto and grinned. To this day, I remember that smile. I see it in my dreams. I have never been able to forget it. No sooner had he flashed this smile than he set to work. His men held Yamamoto down with their hands and knees while he began skinning Yamamoto with the utmost care. It truly was like skinning a peach. I couldn't bear to watch. I closed my eyes. When I did this, one of the soldiers hit me with his rifle butt. He went on hitting me until I opened my eyes. But it hardly mattered: eyes open or closed, I could still hear Yamamoto's voice. He bore the pain without a whimper - at first. But soon he began to scream. I had never heard such screams before: they did not seem part of this world. The man started by slitting open Yamamoto's shoulder and proceeded to peel off the skin of his right arm from the top down - slowly, carefully, almost lovingly. As the Russian officer had said, it was something like a work of art. One would never have imagined there was any pain involved, if it weren't for the screams. But the screams told the horrendousness of the pain that accompanied the work.
As for Bush and Cheney, do you suppose they will finally shut up about Saddam's torture chambers, and how that is one of the justifications for having launched the war in the first place? I'm not holding my breath. It's this kind of thing I had in mind when I wrote Stoke the Fire. Ugly. Horrifying. So-called civilization.
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