At the end of this month the tenth anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq will be remembered – although it seems this mostly disastrous foreign policy failure has already fallen into collective (and above all legal) oblivion. As the date approaches, this week the Guardian (and BBC Arabic) published a thorough investigation about a previously unknown grim detail and put the spotlight on Iraq again.

At the center of the story lies a retired US colonel, James Steele, who allegedly oversaw the newly formed Iraqi special police commandos (SPCs) who should enforce security in the shattered country. In trying to break the sunni sectarian insurgency that followed the invasion SPCs set up secret sites for detention and torture to obtain information. The SPCs mostly recruited shia militants and soon developed into ruthless death squads and a key player in the civil-war-like fight amongst Iraq’s sectarian factions.

Against repeated claims by US-officials the report suggests that via Steele’s reporting the Pentagon under former DefSec Donald Rumsfeld knew about the atrocities of the SPCs without ever really trying to intervene against them. Watch the Guardian/BBC-produced documentary about this facet of the history of the dirty war in Iraq.

Iraq's sectarian war