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16 January 2005

Alas, Babylon!

U.S.-led forces, using Iraq's ancient city of Babylon as a military base, have caused "substantial damage" to one of the world's most renowned archaeological treasures, a British Museum report says. A soldier from 101 Airborne Division is pictured overlooking the ruins of Babylon in this file photo. (Reuters, Peter Andrews)

In other news from Iraq:
Riverbend reacts to the "news" that the US has given up its search for WMD:

A question poses it self at this point- why don't they let the scientists go if the weapons don't exist? Why do they have Iraqi scientists like Huda Ammash, Rihab Taha and Amir Al Saadi still in prison? Perhaps they are waiting for those scientists to conveniently die in prison? That way- they won't be able to talk about the various torture techniques and interrogation tactics...
The author of "Iraq's Nuclear Mirage", Imad Khadduri, has started a blog called Free Iraq. It is in a mixture of English and Arabic. He has a recent post about the destruction of Babylon, too.
And finally, as Abu Ghraib fall-guy Spc. Charles Graner awaits sentencing, two firms whose employees faced abuse charges at the prison have been awarded valuable defence contracts to continue providing prison "services" in Iraq.
Three employees of CACI International and Titan - working at Abu Ghraib as civilian contractors - were separately accused of abusive behaviour. The report on the Abu Ghraib scandal implicated three civilian contractors in the abuses: Steven Stefanowicz from CACI International and John Israel and Adel Nakhla from Titan. Stefanowicz was charged with giving orders that 'equated to physical abuse', Israel of lying under oath and Naklha of raping an Iraqi boy. It was also alleged that CACI interrogators used dogs to scare prisoners, placed detainees in unauthorised 'stress positions' and encouraged soldiers to abuse prisoners. Titan employees, it has been alleged, hit detainees and stood by while soldiers physically abused prisoners. Investigators also discovered systemic problems of management and training - including the fact that a third of CACI International's staff at Abu Ghraib had never received formal military interrogation training.
In the face of demands by US human rights groups that the two companies be barred from further contracts in Iraq, CACI International has been awarded a $16 million renewal of its contract and Titan has been awarded a new contract worth $164m.

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