Sunday, March 18, 2007

a cunning plan

What happens when you take some basic government incompetence, add a liberal amount of unprincipled arrogance, and throw in a dash of malevolence?

You get this story from the NY Times:

Ten Iraqis being held in a British military detention center in Basra carried out an audacious escape plan over the past several days: they switched places with visitors, British authorities said Friday.

An 11th detainee was missing, but no one appeared to have been substituted for him, British authorities said. The detention center is at a British base on the outskirts of Basra.

The escape came to light on Thursday, when it became apparent that “one person was not who he said he was,” said a spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. The military began to investigate and found that nine other detainees were also substitutes. The real ones had walked out the door, apparently after swapping clothes with their willing stand-ins, British officials said.

The substitutions were carefully plotted, and the imposters “were remarkably well prepared,” the spokesman said.

“They looked the same,” he said. “They knew the stories of the people they were substituting for. It was quite a sophisticated effort, very carefully planned.”

Because none of the detainees who escaped had yet been charged with a crime, the British military would not provide any details about their cases or the facility in which they were held, including its size or the length of time that they had been held there.

Do their captors know why those Iraqis were being held? Did the British military have any plans to try and then release or punish any of the detainees? And why is this the job of the British government rather than that of the Iraqi government? Are British citizens happy with the priorities of Tony Blair? Did they learn anything about the value of due process from imprisoning innocent Irishmen for decades?

“I’m afraid that there are now people inside who shouldn’t be,” he said. “We are very unhappy about it all.”

Who could he be referring to? The Times has the answer in the next paragraph:

Thousands of Iraqis are held in American and British facilities in Iraq awaiting determinations on whether they will be charged with crimes. Some have been detained for more than two years.

When will enough be enough? What is wrong with our governments that makes them think this is acceptable? What is wrong with us that we don't do anything about it?

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