BAGHDAD—The U.S. Congress today issued a proclamation declaring a hard-fought victory in the war against closing torture sites it controls, a war that ended where some architects of the campaign saw its beginnings: in Iraq.
As the Iraqi government reluctantly announced that it had shuttered the notorious Abu Ghraib prison amidst growing security concerns, the United States continued to flog the preservation of its own scandal-ridden detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to Bill O’Reilly to declare, “Mission accomplished, again.”
Said Cheney, “The biggest threat we face is the possibility of other nations equipped with warehouses of mass incarceration overpowering our prison-industrial complex. That was the threat after 9/11, and we got close to eliminating Iraq as a potential source of that before invading. Now we can truly claim victory and enjoy the spoils of war at Gitmo.”
Saddam Hussein emptied Abu Ghraib prison to great fanfare in 2002, only to have it become the epitome of abuse under American occupation as documented in a “60 Minutes II” exposé that shocked the world and stoked a fire under the Iraqi insurgency.
More recently, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has been accused of imprisoning innocents and potentially destabilizing religious adversaries there.
“The place should be a museum of torture, for what happened there under Saddam, the Americans and Maliki,” one former prisoner told The New York Times.
Many of the Republicans in the U.S. Congress who have routinely opposed President Obama’s efforts to close Guantanamo are similarly pleased to see its rival prison in Iraq shut down.
“I give the Ghraib closure a big thumbs up,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “I bet the Iraqis are wishing they had a prison camp as secure and enduring as Guantanamo right about now. Gitmo’s not going anywhere.”
One Democratic aide suggested that the stubborn insistence on preserving the detention camp in Cuba is “Just another example of how the U.S. is second to no one when it comes to using tortured logic to keep a prison open.” Still, he recognizes that the political calculus makes sense. “Vulnerable senators weren’t going out on a limb and risk being Willie Hortonized on Gitmo when the White House, with the most to lose, wasn’t even twisting arms.”
For his part, Cheney insisted that any attempt by the Obama administration to twist the arms of senators would clearly be an example of unwarranted torture. As for the “enhanced interrogation techniques” authorized under his watch, Cheney said, “If I would have to do it all over again, I would.” He added, “The results speak for themselves.”