In a remarkable piece of reportage, the Guardian's Ghaith Abdul-Ahad details the glorious fruits of the "liberation" that America has so generously and selflessly gifted to the people of Iraq:
Um Hussein had six children. Her eldest son was killed by Sunni insurgents in 2005, when they took control of the neighbourhood. Three of her remaining sons were kidnapped by a Shia militia group when they left the neighbourhood to find work. They were never seen again.
[Her last surviving son] Yassir was detained in 2007. For three years she heard nothing of him and assumed he was dead like his brothers. Then one day she took a phone call from an officer who said she could go to visit him if she paid a bribe. She borrowed the money from her neighbour and set off for the prison.
"We waited until they brought him," she said. "His hands and legs were tied in metal chains like a criminal. I didn't know him from the torture. He wasn't my son, he was someone else. I cried: 'Your mother dies for you, my dear son.' I picked dirt from the floor and smacked it on my head. They dragged me out and wouldn't let me see him again. I have lost four. I told them I wouldn't lose this one."
Afterwards, the officers called from prison demanding hefty bribes to let him go while telling the family he was being tortured. ... "We had to send [the security men] phone cards so they could call us. They said: 'Your son is being tortured – he will die if you don't pay.' So we paid and paid. What could I do? He is the last I have.
Yassir's case is part of a growing body of evidence collected by the Guardian that shows Iraqi state security officers are systematically arresting people on trumped-up charges, torturing them and extorting bribes from their families for their release. Endemic corruption in Iraq has created a new industry in which senior security service officers buy their authority over particular neighbourhoods by bribing politicians, junior officers pay their seniors monthly stipends and everyone gets a return on their investment by extorting money from the families of detainees. ...
This is the system that was installed, financed, armed and maintained at every step by the American invaders. Yassir's ordeal -- and those of thousands like him -- occurred under the American occupation, which only came to its ostensible end a few weeks ago. (Of course, thousands of armed American forces and mercenaries still remain in the raped and broken country.) This is precisely the system that the Americans intended to leave in place. Indeed, it is the very system that the bipartisan American power elite have openly yearned to impose on Iraq since the days following the 1991 Gulf War: a strongman regime, corrupt, brutal, but open for business to Western oil interests and American war profiteers -- Saddamism without Saddam. And that is exactly what they have achieved.
Rafic is an officer in one of the most feared security units in Iraq, one of the many commando anti-terrorism units which, at the height of the civil war, had a reputation for being a government-backed death squad. ... When we met him in December he was closing a $5,000 deal with the family of a detainee. He promised them he would send their son blankets and food and assured them the beating and torture would stop. The money was the first of many payments Rafic would receive before the man would be released.
... Rafic stood outside a small shop where he held his "surgery" every evening, drinking Greek ouzo with his friends and receiving visitors. His scope of business is not limited to detainees but covers anything related to corrupt officialdom, including getting ID cards and passports ...
"We are neutral," he said, referring to his commando unit. "We don't do Sunni and Shia any more. We are professional. We detain Shia and Sunni. There is no difference."
How do you make detainees confess? "We hang them from the ceiling and beat them until they are motionless corpses," he said. "Then they confess."
"Look," he added, "the system now is just like under Saddam: walk by the wall, don't go near politics and you can walk with your head high and not fear anything. But if you come close to the throne then the wrath of Allah will fall on you and we have eyes everywhere."
Read the whole story; these excerpts are just the tip of the bloodsoaked slagheap. This is what the American people have paid trillions of tax dollars to achieve. This is the outcome and the enduring legacy of America's unrepented, still-ongoing war crime in Iraq. This is a poisonous seed that will bear poisonous fruit for generations to come.
"When the children of the slain/Cry for revenge to ease their pain/Lost in shadows you'll never see/Will you be free? Will you be free?"