[quote]Professor X wrote:
You fail to take into account all of the people who would have either been killed or tortured over the last few years had Saddam still been in power.
Actually, that was exactly the point. Would there have truly been MORE killings than the people who have died because of our war?[/quote]
We do know that in Saddams past performance as a ruthless dictator he killed hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.
That you sit here today and question whether he would have continued along this same path, or somehow changed over night is somewhat naive.
You might want to take a look at this and think about things:
Saddam’s Shop of Horrors
Torture and execution were staples of the Red Security intelligence headquarters in northern Iraq. Now the building is a monument to Kurdish resilience.
By Kevin Sites, Tue Nov 29, 5:43 PM ETEmail Story IM Story
SULAYMANIYAH, Iraq - It is a most startling image: a life-sized figure of a Kurdish rebel hanging by his wrists from a metal hook, his arms bound behind his back – a position intended to use the prisoner’s weight to dislocate his shoulders.
He is dressed in the traditional Kurdish “sharwal” baggy pants and his shirt is partly untucked. Two electric alligator clips are attached to his earlobes from where wires run to a green hand-cranked electrical generator on a metal desk. His face is frozen in a moment of agony. The room is paneled in wood to muffle his screams.
It is only a museum display. But before 1991, what happened in this room was all too real for the Kurds who dared to oppose the regime of Saddam Hussein.
This compound of cinderblock buildings in the northern Iraq city of Sulaymaniyah was once one of the most feared places in the region. Known as Red Security, it was the northern headquarters for Saddam’s military intelligence.
“There were many kinds of torture,” says Nabaz Mamhoud, a translator at the museum. “Some of them were executed or slaughtered by Saddam Hussein; some of them were imprisoned for the rest of their lives. The other people were kept in jails while security forces of Saddam Hussein tortured them in the most severe way.”
The Kurds have always bristled under governance by the Iraqis, responsible for the first guerilla attacks against the Iraqi army dating back 44 years in 1961.
But Saddam Hussein reached his boiling point when Kurdish militia known as peshmerga – which means “those who face death” – fought with Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.
Hussein’s forces used chemical weapons against Kurds in the city of Halabja near the Iranian border. Survivors say when shells started landing in the town they thought the Iraqis were just using high explosives, so many took shelter in their basements.
It was a deadly mistake. The chemical poisons – a mixture of mustard gas and nerve agents – were heavier than air and seeped into lower ground. When it all was over an estimated 5,000 Kurds, many of them women and children, were dead.
The Halabja attack was the single deadliest incident in Saddam’s 1988 Anfal campaign, named after a verse in the Koran that urges believers to attack the infidels. The Anfal had three phases, each lasting from several weeks to a month, each focusing on a different Kurdish region.
Kurds say it was simply genocide; people were rounded up into concentration camps or simply marched into the desert and shot. The Anfal saw the disappearance of 182,000 Kurds, most presumed to be dead. Hardly a person in the entire Iraqi Kurdish population did not lose a family member in that violent rampage.
Red Security, museum officials say, was part of the Anfal campaign. Anyone suspected of having any connections to the peshmerga militia or the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) political party was brought here for questioning, usually under duress.
Large color photographs line the walls of Red Security today, depicting images of incredible cruelty: Iraqi soldiers smiling over the body of a dead Kurd; the aftermath of executions; children in concentration camps behind barbed wired emplacements.
The museum has also tried to keep the cells inside Red Security almost the same way they found them, sometimes including life-sized figures inside representing the torture and punishments meted out here.
Woman and children weren’t immune from imprisonment at Red Security. In one dark cell, a statue of a mother and her young daughter look out in fear on their captors.
One cell was kept just for young boys thought to be fighting with the peshmerga. The space is about 14 feet by 20 feet, the cold concrete floor covered only by a few blankets where the boys slept. Remnants remain of their plastic buckets used for meals of rice and sometimes a little meat.
Writing covers much of the walls – even drawings of Batman. But museum guide Hamid Ibrahim says much of the scribbling was done recently by a class of schoolchildren left alone in the room unsupervised. One passage, however, seems to bear some authenticity, according to Ibrahim.
It reads: “I am 17 years old – but they changed my identification papers to 18 so they could convict me.”
There are no further details.
In another wing of Red Security is a figure of a man hunched over, handcuffed to a low point on the wall and in view of a large holding cell.
“This was the most lenient punishment,” says Ibrahim. “The person would be handcuffed here for several hours or several days in a way in which the person could not stand up straight, all in view of the other prisoners, to make an example to them.”
In the same wing, but in a back corner devoid of almost any light, are four solitary confinement cells. They’re stalls, really – two feet wide and four feet long – just high enough to stand in but without enough room to recline. I get inside and close the cell door. The completeness of the isolation is terrifying, a severing of both sensory input and human physical contact. It is easy to understand how a person confined in the place could feel he had been robbed of his soul.
Ibrahim unlocks one final door. The hallway is dark, but immediately sparkles with the reflection of the outside light. It is a passageway of 182,000 mirror fragments – one for each victim of the Anfal campaign – tiled against walls that curve along for nearly 50 yards. On the ceiling shine an additional 5,000 tiny lights, one for each of the victims of Halabja.
The outside buildings of Red Security are covered with bullet holes, reminders of the Kurdish uprising in 1991 when peshmerga attacked and liberated the prison. A fallen guard tower remains where it collapsed from the explosions.
And each week, Kurdish TV interviews people who were held in Red Security but survived. Ibrahim says 500 people visit the museum every month.
“But many more come in the spring. It’s the time for picnics in Kurdistan, but many come here first to remember,” he says"