From the Washington Post, today, there is some pretty grim reading, 'In Fallujah, Peace Through Brute Strength'.
The city's police chief, Col. Faisal Ismail al-Zobaie.."How can we show mercy to those people?" he asked. "Do you want me to show mercy to them if I capture them?"
Zobaie, 51, knows the nature of the men in black masks. He is a former insurgent. Now, as the police chief, he has turned against the insurgency, especially al-Qaeda in Iraq. The U.S. military showcases Fallujah as a model city where U.S. policies are finally paying off and is spending hundreds of millions of dollars in the region to promote the rule of law and a variety of nation-building efforts.
But the security that has been achieved here is fragile, the result of harsh tactics recalling the rule of Saddam Hussein, who was overthrown five years ago. Even as they work alongside U.S. forces, Zobaie's men admit they have beaten and tortured suspects to force confessions and exact revenge.
We never tortured anybody," he said. "Sometimes we beat them during the first hours of capture."
His men, he added, abuse suspects because "they don't surrender easily. They don't confess. They say: 'I am innocent. I haven't done anything.' They start to defend themselves."
The story of Zobaie and his police force opens a window onto the Iraq that is emerging after five years of war. American ideals that were among the justifications for the 2003 invasion, such as promoting democracy and human rights, are giving way to values drawn from Iraq's traditions and tribal culture, such as respect, fear and brutality.
I have realized that Americans love the strong guy," Zobaie said.
A City 'Like a Big Jail'.
Fallujah today is sealed off with blast walls and checkpoints. Residents are given permits to enter the city. All visitors and their weapons are registered, and police check every car. The U.S. military has divided the city into nine gated communities, each with its own joint security station staffed by U.S. troops and Iraqi police. It also has been buying the loyalties of former Sunni insurgents, paying them $180 a month to join a neighborhood force that works with the police.
Capt. Mohammed Yousef, a ruddy-faced police investigator in another joint security station, said he sometimes has to beat suspects to make them confess. He has interrogated suspects since 1994, he said, and sees no need to change his methods.
"Since Saddam Hussein until now, Iraq obeys only the force," Yousef said. "We are practicing the same old procedures."
Abu Rahma, 43, a taxi driver and father of four, was a victim of that approach. He was taken into custody last March and tortured in Fallujah's jail. "They kept beating me to force me to confess," he said. "I told them I am not with al-Qaeda, and neither is my brother. They beat me everywhere on my body. . . . Some of my nails were taken out."
U.S. commanders are concerned that Zobaie's force could become a militia someday. Ninety-five percent of the men are Sunnis from Fallujah, more loyal to sect and tribe than to the government. But some U.S. officers question why insurgents once determined to kill them have so quickly embraced them. ( our money, which looks like it is bottomless?).
What Zobaie wants is for the U.S. military to hand over full control of Fallujah. He believes Iraq's current leaders are not strong enough. Asked whether democracy could ever bloom here, he replied: "No democracy in Iraq. Ever."
"When the Americans leave the city," he said, "I'll be tougher with the people."
That's encouraging. Four thousand American military casualties, two-three trillion dollars (with the wounded military health benefits), five years later, we're glad, that 'the war in Iraq', although Cheney never calls it that, has been "a successful endeavor", but for whom?
Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!