Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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May 14, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

$200 OR A COUPLE OF SHEEP....Abuse and torture weren't the only problems at Abu Ghraib. Apparently there was good old fashioned corruption there too:

The prison also became the site of an extortion racket in which an Iraqi translator collected hundreds of dollars from families begging for visits with loved ones inside, family members told Knight Ridder.

To desperate families who spent days camped outside Abu Ghraib, the man they call "Abdu" was an expensive link to their loved ones. For $200 or a couple of sheep, Abdu arranged unauthorized meetings between families and detainees, according to prisoner-rights advocates, detainees' relatives and Abdu's neighbors.

....Abdu apparently had access to a computer with a list of detainee numbers and scheduled visiting times. Families said he would scan the list of detainees already released from jail and give their appointments to the people who paid him instead of canceling the slots.

This is hardly the biggest problem at Abu Ghraib, of course, but it's hard not to wonder if Abdu might have been sharing those bribes with anyone else in there.

The story, reported by Knight Ridder's Hannah Allam, is interesting both for the facts of the corruption itself and for the reaction to it from Iraqis which might not be quite what you'd expect. It's also unusually well written. Click the link and read the whole thing.

Kevin Drum 12:43 AM Permalink | Trackbacks

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