A secret prison run by the Iraqi government was hurriedly closed and its prisoners transferred last week after its existence became known. Facing mounting problems stemming from increased violence and the unsettled election, American officials pressured the Iraqi government into emptying the facility located at the Muthanna airfield west of Baghdad. But after interviewing 300 who were held there, the rights group Human Rights Watch described a prison where “rape, torture, electro-shock and suffocation” were the norm. Complicating matters for the Americans, the Iraqi force responsible for running the prison answers directly to incumbent Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who is fighting to hold on to his job after seemingly loosing in the March election. The U.S. is now trying to broker a deal that would allow a new government to be formed. On Wednesday, Al-Maliki brushed aside criticism of the Muthanna prison, comparing it to the U.S. and Abu Ghreib. The British Independent quoted Al-Maliki as saying that, “The American government took tough measures [at Abu Ghreib] and we are doing the same, so where is the problem and why this raucousness?"
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