There's a lot to say about how American conservatives have been coming out of the woodwork to suggest that regime change in Iraq veeeeeeery slowly sparked the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere around the Middle East in recent weeks. (A variant on this theme is offered by NRO's Jay Nordlinger, who writes: "It seems that a democratic revolution is sweeping the Middle East — spurred, I am sure, by American and allied actions in Iraq.")
So it's worth taking note of today's New York Times story that gives us a picture of what "democracy" in Iraq actually looks like:
Iraqi security forces controlled directly by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki continue to hold and to torture detainees in secret jails despite his vows last year to end such practices, according to a statement from Human Rights Watch released Tuesday.
The statement renewed longstanding criticism of Mr. Maliki that he has violated the Constitution by having some security forces in charge of pursuing terrorists report directly to his office. About 280 detainees are being held at Camp Justice, a military base in northern Baghdad, with no access to lawyers or their families, according to the report. They are being held by brigades that are supposed to report to the Defense Ministry, it said.
After the disclosure of a secret prison last year, Mr. Maliki said the detainees would be transferred to the Ministry of Justice, under which they were expected to receive proper legal representation. But Human Rights Watch, citing internal government documents and interviews conducted in Iraq with government officials and detainees, said that this has not occurred.
I'm going to go ahead and suggest that Egyptians aren't really all that inspired by a US-backed "democratic" (remember, Maliki didn't actually win the last election) government that tortures its enemies. That's what they're protesting against! I'm guessing the sparks of the recent waves of protests involve a complicated set of kindling that I don't fully understand, but I do know that Iraq War apologists will never stop trying to extract "victory" from a very bad war.