During the Persian Gulf War, Iraq brutally tortured U.S. prisoners of war. Saddam Hussein's secret police broke bones; shattered skulls and eardrums; and whipped, burned, shocked, beat, starved and urinated on our POWs. Yet these brave Americans, as did generations of POWs before them, refused to give in to their captors. One extraordinary Marine was knocked unconscious so many times he lost count; he returned home with a fractured skull for refusing his captors' orders to criticize President George H.W. Bush. Because Iraq would not notify families of POWs, spouses did not know whether they were wives or widows. The result was serious and lasting injury to the POWs and their families.
This decision to stiff the POWs, made by administration lawyers in the climate of misguided legal advice now exposed in the detainee abuse scandal, resulted in the administration's seizing the blocked Iraqi assets the POWs had been counting on to enforce their judgment. In seizing the entire $1.7 billion, leaving nothing for the POWs, the administration argued that the money was urgently needed for the "reconstruction of Iraq."
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