Well, the good news from the Shiite population has to be balanced by the grim UN report - delayed till after last month's Congressional debate at the request of Ambassador Ryan Crocker. It's grueling. The treatment of prisoners in Iraq is now almost as bad as under Saddam, and it is ultimately America's responsibility:

Among the most serious issues raised in the report is the treatment of detainees. The U.N. agency found that as of June, 44,325 detainees were in Iraqi or U.S. custody, an increase of nearly 4,000 people since April. Many of them, it said, remained in detention for months without having their cases reviewed or with limited access to legal counsel. The report also expressed concerns about overcrowding and poor hygiene in detention centers, particularly pretrial holding cells run by the Interior Ministry in Baghdad. The agency said it "remained gravely concerned at continuing reports of the widespread and routine torture or ill-treatment of detainees."

"In addition to routine beatings with hosepipes, cables and other implements, the methods cited included prolonged suspension from the limbs in contorted and painful positions for extended periods, sometimes resulting in dislocation of the joints; electric shocks to sensitive parts of the body; the breaking of limbs; forcing detainees to sit on sharp objects, causing serious injury and heightening the risk of infection; and severe burns to parts of the body through the application of heated implements," the report said.

If any of us who supported the war had been told this would be the result four years later, we would surely have said: not on these terms, not by these methods.

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