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The Missing People Shredder
The Guardian ^ | February 25, 2004 | Brendan O'Neill

Posted on 02/27/2004 6:56:37 AM PST by alpowolf

The missing people-shredder

The horror of one of Saddam's execution methods made a powerful pro-war rallying cry - but the evidence suggests it never existed

Brendan O'Neill Wednesday February 25, 2004 The Guardian

Forget the no-show of Saddam Hussein's WMD. Ask instead what happened to Saddam's "people shredder", into which his son Qusay reportedly fed opponents of the Ba'athist regime. Ann Clwyd, the Labour MP who chairs Indict, a group that has been campaigning since 1996 for an international criminal tribunal to try the Ba'athists, wrote of the shredder in the Times on March 18 last year - the day of the Iraq debate in the House of Commons and three days before the start of the war. Clwyd described an Iraqi's claims that male prisoners were dropped into a machine "designed for shredding plastic", before their minced remains were "placed in plastic bags" so they could later be used as "fish food".

Not surprisingly, the story made a huge impact. When the Australian prime minister John Howard addressed his nation to explain why he was sending troops to support the coalition, he talked of the "human-shredding machine". Paul Wolfowitz, the US deputy defence secretary, expressed admiration for Clwyd's work in an email and invited her to meet him.

Others, too, made good use of the story. Andrew Sullivan, who writes from Washington for the Sunday Times, said Clwyd's report showed that "leading theologians and moralists and politicians" ought to back the war. The Daily Mail columnist Melanie Phillips wrote of the shredder in which "bodies got chewed up from foot to head", and said: "This is the evil that the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Anglican bishops refuse to fight." In his recent book, William Shawcross wrote of a regime that "fed people into huge shredders, feet first to prolong the agony". And earlier this month, Trevor Kavanagh, the Sun's political editor, claimed that "Public opinion swung behind Tony Blair as voters learned how Saddam fed dissidents feet first into industrial shredders".

Nobody doubts that Saddam was a cruel and ruthless tyrant who murdered many thousands of his own people and that most Iraqis are glad he's gone. But did his regime have a machine that made mincemeat of men? The evidence is far from compelling.

The shredding machine was first mentioned in public by James Mahon, then head of research at Indict, at a meeting in the House of Commons on March 12. Mahon had just returned from northern Iraq, where Indict researchers, along with Clwyd, interviewed Iraqis who had suffered under Saddam. One of them said Iraqis had been fed into a shredder. "Sometimes they were put in feet first and died screaming. It was horrible. I saw 30 die like this ..." In subsequent interviews and articles, Clwyd said this shredding machine was in Abu Ghraib prison, Saddam's most notorious jail. Indict refuses to tell me the names of the researchers who were in Iraq with Mahon and Clwyd; and, I am told, Mahon, who no longer works at Indict, "does not want to speak to journalists about his work with us". But Clwyd tells me: "We heard it from a victim; we heard it and we believed it."

This is all that Indict had to go on - uncorroborated and quite amazing claims made by a single person from northern Iraq. When I suggest that this does not constitute proof of the existence of a human shredder, Clwyd responds: "Who are you to say that chap is a liar?" Yet to call for witness statements to be corroborated before being turned into the subject of national newspaper articles is to follow good practice in the collection of evidence, particularly evidence with which Indict hopes to "seek indictments by national prosecutors" against former Ba'athists.

An Iraqi who worked as a doctor in the hospital attached to Abu Ghraib prison tells me there was no shredding machine in the prison. The Iraqi, who wishes to remain anonymous, describes the prison as "horrific". Part of his job was to attend to those who had been executed. Did he ever attend to, or hear of, prisoners who had been shredded? "No." Did any of the other doctors at Abu Ghraib speak of a shredding machine used to execute prisoners? "No, never. As far as I know [hanging] was the only form of execution used there."

Clwyd insists that corroboration of the shredder story came when she was shown a dossier by a reporter from Fox TV. On June 18, Clwyd wrote a second article for the Times, citing a "record book" from Abu Ghraib, which described one of the methods of execution as "mincing". Can she say who compiled this book? "No, I can't." Where is it now? "I don't know." What was the name of the Fox reporter who showed it to her? "I have no idea." Did Clwyd read the entire thing? "No, it was in Arabic! I only saw it briefly." Curiously, there is no mention of the book or of "mincing" as a method of execution on the Fox News website, nor does its foreign editor recall it.

Other groups have no recorded accounts of a human shredder. An Amnesty International spokesman tells me that his inquiries into the shredder "drew a blank". Widney Brown, the deputy programme director of Human Rights Watch, says: "We have not heard of that particular form of execution or torture."

It remains to be seen whether this uncorroborated story turns out to be nothing more than war propaganda - like the stories on the eve of the first Gulf war of Iraqi soldiers in Kuwait taking babies from incubators and leaving them to die on hospital floors. What can be said, however, is that the alleged shredder provided those in favour of the war with a useful propaganda tool. The headline on Clwyd's story of March 18 in the Times was: "See men shredded, then say you don't back war".

· Brendan O'Neill is the assistant editor of spiked. A longer version of this article appears in this week's Spectator

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs
KEYWORDS: abughraib; iraq; qusay; saddam; shredder; shredding; torture
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To: cyncooper; alpowolf
Spot on. It the same with the people who continue to claim that the Prez lied about WMD's in Iraq when all the available intel (gathered from the intel services of numerous nations) pointed towards them having an extensive arsenal (which they still probably have, although not necessarily within Iraq's borders).

Equating Clinton's lies with Bush reporting (possibly false) info gathered from the CIA, the Mossad, and the British Secret Service betrays an extreme bias. ......toward our nation's enemies.

41 posted on 02/27/2004 9:05:23 AM PST by Mr. Mojo
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To: alpowolf
Something like what?

The assertion of the article has not been proven. You're leaping ahead of yourself.
42 posted on 02/27/2004 9:10:15 AM PST by cyncooper ("Maybe they were hoping he'd lose the next Iraqi election")
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To: All
Hillary believes that Iraqi women were better off under Saddam.

Go here:

Funny how the mostly liberal mainstream press has pointedly ignored this provocative observation. Oh, and the PIAPS failed to mention the well-known rapes against women committed by Udday, Quesay and those ordered by their dear daddy. Of course, PIAPS didn't want to dwell on the subject of rape given her own spouses' past activities...
43 posted on 02/27/2004 9:24:55 AM PST by demnomo
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To: null and void
Perfect question...should be placed on placard and brought to every Kerry campaign event. Placed on billboards in the cities where Kerry is visiting.
44 posted on 02/27/2004 9:29:51 AM PST by all4one (Major Brian Reed said he responded to Saddam: "President Bush sends his regards.")
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To: alpowolf
There were multiple reasons given for removing Saddam.
45 posted on 02/27/2004 9:33:35 AM PST by Dilbert56
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To: alpowolf
There are BS propaganda stories in every war. But in the end, all that matters is winning. If you don't like what our country is doing by all means move your ass to France.
46 posted on 02/27/2004 9:44:18 AM PST by ohioman
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To: null and void
Nice one!
47 posted on 02/27/2004 9:49:02 AM PST by k2blader (Some folks should worry less about how conservatives vote and more about how to advance conservatism)
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To: alpowolf
Lets see now,In Iraq we found:
1.)Jail cells smaller than the size of my desk at work
2.)Videos of people being shot,their feet being unmercifully whipped and tossed off buildings while blindfolded
3.)Jails full of children locked up only because their parents spoke against the regime of S.H.
4.)Military Jets buried in the Desert
5.)A vast section of Iraqi Marshland intentionally drained of it's water
6.)S.H. in a hole in the ground

To even ponder that S.H or his 2 (thankfully dead) son's weren't capable of using this paper shredder for human disposal, is simply preposterous. We've seen for years the video of him reading names of alleged traitors being escorted out of that auditorium to their deaths, with Tariq Aziz sitting in the first row. This writer of this article seriously needs to go stand in the corner and shake themselves to clear out their foggy thinking.
48 posted on 02/27/2004 10:03:28 AM PST by Pagey (Hillary Rotten is a Smug and Holier- than- Thou Socialist)
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To: ohioman
Only Dubya worshippers are patriots, eh? Whatever.

Sorry. I'm not going to France or anywhere else. Not that it should matter to you or anybody else--you have enough of the sheeple with you to keep the Empire rolling.
49 posted on 02/27/2004 12:22:59 PM PST by alpowolf
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To: alpowolf
Say hi to your buds in the Green Party. You would have been a Tory during the Revolutionary War.
50 posted on 02/27/2004 2:17:15 PM PST by ohioman
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To: alpowolf; Paradox
I second Paradox's comments, and encourage you to spend some time here:

See if some of the 54 pages of mass graves strike a cord with you. But I guess if there wasn't a shredder, it was all for nought. < /major sarcasm>
51 posted on 02/27/2004 2:30:35 PM PST by FreedomPoster (This space intentionally blank)
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