Thursday, August 25, 2005

Why is Huda Ammash Behind Bars?

Here's a case I haven't seen getting much attention in the blogosphere:

When Huda Ammash turned herself in to the U.S. military in 2003, she had unusual distinctions for a woman in Iraq. She was a prominent scientist and had held senior positions in Saddam Hussein’s government.

Pentagon officials said that she had played a role in Iraq’s biowarfare research programs and dubbed her “Mrs. Anthrax.” Before she turned herself in, she even rated a spot on the Pentagon’s famous deck of cards of Iraqi officials the U.S. was trying to track down.

Two years later, Ammash remains in prison in Iraq and has not been charged with any crime. As a former dean of the Women’s College at Baghdad University and the only female member of the Iraq Academy of Sciences, Ammash was known to American academic groups. And several of them are now pushing for her release, saying that she and other scientists were detained for doing research on weapons programs that have now been found not to exist.

Ammash has also reportedly had a relapse of breast cancer.

I did a little googling on Ammash, and it turns out that prior to her arrest, she published several papers on the toxic effect of the first Gulf War on Iraq:
In her paper, "Toxic Pollution, the Gulf War, and Sanctions," Dr Ammash examines the effects of United States' use of depleted uranium during the first Persian Gulf War, the spread of electro-magnetic fields in the environment, chemical pollution, and massive destruction of Iraq's infrastructure on public health. Her assessment of the overall effect is that US actions are largely responsible for the deterioration of public health in Iraq. She writes: "Iraqi death rates have increased significantly, with cancer representing a significant cause of morality, especially in the south and among children." This view is shared by other scientists and experts.

Gee, do you suppose there's any connection between us holding her, illegally, without charging her, and her ability to expose the damage we've caused countless Iraqi civilians? Or am I just being cynical again? (For more information on Ammash's case, see the American Association for the Advancement of Science page)

(cross-posted at Bitch, PhD)