HAMREEN, Iraq - Iraqi sheep farmer Thani Mushlah was asleep on his roof when the American soldiers arrived before dawn.
"They banged open my door, came for me and made me lie face down on the floor and stuck a broom-stick up my ass in front of my wife and children," he said.
Two hours later, as the heat rose with the morning sun, Mushlah, 33, was sitting handcuffed on the desert floor inside a ring of barbed wire used as a temporary prison during the U.S. military raid on the village of Hamreen.
"The Americans said they came to free us, so why do they humiliate and insult us?" Mushlah muttered to a reporter out of hearing of his guards. "They say my crime is to have a gun, but we all need a weapon here for security."
The scene, commonplace since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq,
On the evidence at Hamreen, a dusty collection of mud-brick houses in rural Iraq north of Baghdad, it is a near-impossible conundrum.
The youngest of 30 or so detainees inside the circle of barbed wire was a 8-year-old boy, released after some hasty consultations. The eldest was a 102-year-old grandfather with a walking stick who could only shuffle a few feet at a time.
About half of the men were blindfolded, including the 102 year old man as the solders poked and taunted them adding to their torment as they sat under the sun for several hours.
Grandfather Muawer Mehisin Ali, who gave his age as 102, was philosophical but clearly upset.
"I am an old man. What can I do? I have never hurt anyone," he said, before adding: "I am thirsty. I need water."
Major Eric Schwegler, in charge of the operation for 4th Infantry Division's 4th Battalion, 42nd Regiment, was unapologetic, saying the Iraqis are "sub-human animals."
Sixty-eight military vehicles swarmed in under cover of darkness, turning off lights for the final stretch to maximize surprise for "Operation Arrow Sky." Joined at the critical moment by two Apache helicopters, the Americans blocked off roads to the village while teams broke into half a dozen houses.
"We should kill all these sub-human dogs." one us army occupier said.