Iraqi war convert

Donald E. Walters:

"IN mid April, I got a call from the Justice Department asking if I would be willing to go to Iraq for up to three months to evaluate the justice system and make recommendations.

"I was in Iraq for fewer than 40 days, in Baghdad for a little over three weeks and in the three provinces of the far south for two weeks. I am limited in what I saw and heard. I want to make it clear that, initially, I vehemently opposed the war. In fact, I only changed my mind after my trip."

"...What changed my mind?

"When we left in mid June, 57 mass graves had been found, one with the bodies of 1,200 children. There have been credible reports of murder, brutality and torture of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Iraqi citizens. There is poverty on a monumental scale and fear on a larger one. That fear is still palpable. I have seen the machines and places of torture.

"Terrible things happened with the knowledge, indeed with the participation, of Saddam, his family and the Ba'athist regime. Thousands suffered while we were messing about with France and Russia and Germany and the United Nations. Every one of them knew what was going on there, but France and the United Nations were making millions administering the Food-for-Oil program."

"...I fear we will quit as the horrors of war come into our living rooms. Look at the stories you are getting from the media today. The steady drip, drip, drip of bad news may destroy our will to fulfill the obligations we have assumed.

"We are not getting the whole truth from the news media.

"The news you watch, listen to and read is highly selective. Good news doesn't sell. Ninety percent of the damage you see on TV was caused by Iraqis, not by coalition forces. All the damage you see to schools, hospitals, power generation facilities, refineries, pipelines and water supplies, as well as shops, museums and semi-public buildings (like hotels)was caused either by the Iraqi army in its death throes or Iraqi civilians looting and rioting."


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