Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Detainee overload in Iraq

I keep hearing the surge supporters saying we're making progress in Iraq but considering a big part of this "new" plan was winning over the Iraqi civilians, I have to count this as a step backward.
Hundreds of Iraqis detained in the Baghdad security crackdown have been crammed into two detention centers run by the Defense Ministry that were designed to hold only dozens of people, a government monitoring group said Tuesday.

...In one of the detention centers, in the town of Mahmudiya, south of Baghdad, 705 people were packed into an area built for 75, according to Maan Zeki Khadum, an official with the monitoring group. The other center, on Muthana Air Base, held 272 people in a space designed to hold about 50, he said, and included two women and four boys who were being held in violation of regulations that require juveniles to be separated from adults and males from females.

He said the detention system had been suffering from a problem of “fast detention and very slow release, especially for those who are not guilty.”
Surge supporter Capt. Ed takes issue with that last remark.
"Especially for those not guilty"? Of course we do not want to detain the innocent, but we don't need to release real terrorists at all. Slow release, grinding down to none at all, should suit everyone just fine for the latter. That's why the US and Iraqis need to work on a competent process to review the data for those seized, but a lack of speed in that process is hardly an excuse for not capturing terrorists at all.
And therein lies the problem. We've had four years to figure out who the real terrorists are and complaints of months long detentions that result in no charges have been voiced nearly since the beginning. Hard to believe we're going to win any hearts and minds this way. Ed goes on to say we need to find room for more detainees but an increase in detainees certainly should have been expected. Wouldn't you think they would have made some plan for this before the surge started?

I'd remind the good Captain that not so long ago, we released thousands of captives without charge, all of whom had been held for months, if not years. It's easy to counsel patience when you're not the innocent victim of overbroad sweeps, rotting away in an overcrowded jail cell. It's exactly this "round em all up and let God sort em out" mentality that lost the hearts and minds of the Iraqis in the first place.

If after four years of fighting, we still can't tell friend from foe well enough to avoid mass incarcerations of innocent civilians, I'd say it's a pretty good indication that's it's time to go home and let the Iraqis sort it out for themselves. It's like teaching a kid to ride a two wheeler. If you never let go of the seat, they're never going to learn to balance on their own.

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