U.S. to stop using Abu Ghraib

Control of the prison will be handed over to Iraqis.

Published March 9, 2006 6:42PM (EST)

From the "Better Late Than Never" Department comes word that the U.S. military intends to stop using the prison at Abu Ghraib and transfer the detainees being held there to other penal facilities, including a new prison now nearing completion.

Abu Ghraib was notorious for its torture chambers long before the United States invaded Iraq, but it gained international fame only when photographs of abuse at the hands of U.S. troops found their way to CBS News in the spring of 2004. U.S. military officials said at the time that there were no plans to shut down the prison, but the threat of civil war in Iraq -- and souring public opinion back home -- seems to have a way of changing things.

The U.S. won't tear down Abu Ghraib, as some have encouraged. Instead, it will turn it over to the Iraqi government. That may be cold comfort: As Lawrence Kaplan wrote recently, Iraqis today may actually prefer to be taken to Abu Ghraib by American forces -- at least when the alternative is being placed in the hands of Iraqi security forces infiltrated by Shiite militia.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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