With the collapse of Baath control over Basra, the Office of Public Safety, the city’s most notorious political prison, has been abandoned. The Washington Post reports on this triumphant, but sad, ritual of a fallen totalitarian state: townspeople visit the prison to exult, to search for records pertaining to their relatives, to look for those who in former times tormented them. The cells now stand empty, although there are rumors of prisoners still languishing underground, and it appears that the prison’s records will mostly be carried off by individual looters, intent on finding information about relatives who disappeared into the prison years ago. Which makes it unlikely that there will ever be a full accounting of the horrors perpetrated there.
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