The Imperial Presidency Comes Full Circle

From Holden:

We don’t torture, but we do feed Muslims to lions.

Two Iraqi businessmen, who were imprisoned by U.S. forces in Iraq, claimed Monday that American soldiers threw them into a cage of lions in a Baghdad palace, as part of a terrifying interrogation in 2003.

“They took me behind the cage, they were screaming at me, scaring me and beating me a lot,” Thahe Mohammed Sabbar said in an interview. “One of the soldiers would open the door, and two soldiers would push me in. The lions came running toward me and they pulled me out and shut the door. I completely lost consciousness.”


Sabbar, 37, and Sherzad Kamal Khalid, 35, are in the United States this week to talk about the lawsuit that the American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights First filed on their behalf against Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other military officials.

The suit, which was filed in March and transferred to U.S. District Court in Washington, details alleged sexual abuse, mock executions, water and food deprivation, electric shock and other torture used on eight detainees, including Sabbar and Khalid. It does not mention the lion cage.


“They threatened that if I did not confess they would put me in the cage,” said Khalid, adding that the soldiers kept asking him where Saddam was. “I laughed, I thought they were kidding me. They asked where are the weapons of mass destruction. I was very surprised and I thought it was weird.”

But when he laughed, he said, he was only beaten more. And he said they pushed him into the cage three times, pulling him out as the lions moved toward him.


Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Odai, kept lions in his compound at the presidential palace, which was taken over by U.S. troops during the war.