But this evidence of both the brutality by American forces in Fallujah, combined with evidence of not achieving the stated victory of "killing 1200 insurgents" and possibly forwarding the cause of civil war in Iraq, is just too important not to post.
The American soldiers at the checkpoint were nervous. The approach to the checkpoint was covered in pebbles so we had to drive very slowly. The soldiers spent 20 minutes searching my car, then they bodysearched Tariq and me. They gave me a yellow tape to put on to the windscreen of the car, showing I had been searched and was a contractor. If I didn't have this stripe of yellow, a US sniper would shoot me as an enemy car.
By 10am we were inside the city. It was completely devastated, destruction everywhere. It looked like a city of ghosts. Falluja used to be a modern city; now there was nothing. We spent the day going through the rubble that had been the centre of the city; I didn't see a single building that was functioning.
The Americans had put a white tape across the roads to stop people wandering into areas that they still weren't allowed to enter. I remembered the market from before the war, when you couldn't walk through it because of the crowds. Now all the shops were marked with a cross, meaning that they had been searched and secured by the US military. But the bodies, some of them civilians and some of them insurgents, were still rotting inside.
There were dead dogs everywhere in this area, lying in the middle of the streets. Reports of rabies in Falluja had reached Baghdad, but I needed to find a doctor.
Fallujans are suspicious of outsiders, so I found it surprising when Nihida Kadhim, a housewife, beckoned me into her home. She had just arrived back in the city to check out her house; the government had told the people three days earlier that they should start going home. She called me into her living room. On her mirror she pointed to a message that had been written in her lipstick. She couldn't read English. It said: "Fuck Iraq and every Iraqi in it!"
"They are insulting me, aren't they?" she asked.
I left her and walked towards the cemetery. I noticed the dead dogs again. I had been told in Baghdad by a friend of mine, Dr Marwan Elawi, that the Baghdad Hospital for Infectious Diseases admits one case of rabies every week. The problem is that infected dogs are eating the corpses and spreading the disease.
As I was walking by the cemetery, I caught the smell of death coming from one of the houses. The door was open and the first thing I saw was a white car parked in the driveway and on top of it a launcher for an RPG.
I went inside, and the sound of the rain on the roof and the darkness inside made me very afraid. The door was open, all the windows were broken and there were bullet holes running down the hall to a bathroom at the end - as if the bullets were chasing something or somebody. The bathroom led on to a bedroom and I stepped inside and saw the body of a fighter.
The leg was missing, the hand was missing and the furniture in the house had been destroyed. I couldn't breathe with the smell. I realised that Tariq wasn't with me, and I panicked and ran. As I got out of the house I saw a white teddy bear lying in the rain, and a green boobytrap bomb.
Some of the worst fighting took place here in the centre of the city, but there was no sign of the 1,200 to 1,600 fighters the Americans said they had killed. I had heard that there was a graveyard for the fighters somewhere in the city but people said that most of them had withdrawn from the city after the first week of fighting. I needed to find one of the insurgents to tell me the real story of what had happened in the city. The Americans had said that there had been a big military victory, but I couldn't understand where all the fighters were buried.
After I saw the body I felt uncomfortable about sleeping in Falluja. The place was deserted and polluted with death and all kinds of weapons. Imagine sleeping in a place where any of the surrounding houses might have one, two or three bodies. I wanted out.
In the morning, I went back to find the cemetery and look for evidence of the fighters who had been killed. It was about 4pm before I got inside the martyrs' cemetery; people kept waylaying me, wanting to show me their destroyed houses and asking why the journalists didn't come and show what the Americans had done to Falluja. They were also angry at the interim President Allawi for sending in the mainly Shia National Guard to help the Americans.
At the entrance to the fighters' graveyard a sign read: "This cemetery is being given by the people of Falluja to the heroic martyrs of the battle against the Americans and to the martyrs of the jihadi operations against the Americans, assigned and approved by the Mujahideen Shura council in Falluja."
As I went into the graveyard, the bodies of two young men were arriving. The faces were rotting. The ambulance driver lifted the bones of one of the hands; the skin had rotted away. "God is the greatest. What kind of times are we living through that we are holding the bones and hands of our brothers?"
Then he began cursing the National Guard, calling them even worse things than the Americans: "Those bastards, those sons of dogs." It wasn't the first time I had heard this. It was the National Guard the Americans used to search the houses; they were seen by the Fallujans as brutal stooges. Most of the volunteers for the National Guard are poor Shias from the south. They are jobless and desperate enough to volunteer for a job that makes them assassination targets. "National infidels", they were also called.
I counted the graves: there were 74. The two young men made it 76. The names on the headstones were written in chalk and some had been washed away. One read: "Here lies the heroic Tunisian martyr who died", but I didn't see any other evidence of the hundreds of foreign fighters that the US had said were using Falluja as their headquarters. People told me there were some Yemenis and Saudis, some volunteers from Tunisia and Egypt, but most of the fighters were Fallujan. The US military say they have hundreds of bodies frozen in a potato chip factory 5km south of the city, but nobody has been allowed to go there in the past two months, including the Red Crescent.
Salman Hashim was crying beside the grave of his son, who had been a fighter in Falluja.
"He is 18 years old. He wanted to be a doctor or engineer after this year; it was his last year in high school." At the same grave, the boy's mother was crying and remembering her dead son, who was called Ahmed. "I blame Ayad Allawi. If I could I would cut his throat into pieces." Then, to the mound of earth covering her son's body, she said: "I told you those fighters would get you killed." The boy's father told her to be quiet in front of the camera.
On the next grave was written the name of a woman called Harbyah. She had refused to leave the city for the camps with her family. One of her relatives was standing by her grave. He said that he found her dead in her bed with at least 20 bullets in her body.
I saw other rotting bodies that showed no signs of being fighters. In one house in the market there were four bodies inside the guest room. One of the bodies had its chest and part of its stomach opened, as if the dogs had been eating it. The wrists were missing, the flesh of the arm was missing, and parts of the legs.
I tried to figure out who these four men were. It was obvious which houses the fighters were in: they were totally destroyed. But in this house there were no bullets in the walls, just four dead men lying curled up beside each other, with bullet holes in the mosquito nets that covered the windows. It seemed to me as if they had been asleep and were shot through the windows. It is the young men of the family who are usually given the job of staying behind to guard the house. This is the way in Iraq - we never leave the house empty. The four men were sleeping the way we sleep when we have guests - we roll out the best carpet in the guest room and the men lie down beside each other.
"Its Abu Faris's house. I think that the fat dead body belongs to his son, Faris," said Abu Salah, whose chip shop was also destroyed in the bombing.
I woke up at home in Baghdad around 9am. I had had enough of Falluja, but I still felt that I didn't understand what had happened. The city was completely devastated - but where were the bodies of all the dead fighters the Americans had killed?
...It was late afternoon when I drove out of Falluja and back to Baghdad, feeling that I had just scratched the surface of what really happened there. But it is clear that by completely destroying this Sunni city, with the help of a mostly Shia National Guard, the US military has fanned the seeds of a civil war that is definitely coming. If there are elections now and the Shia win, that war is certain. The people I spoke to had no plans to vote. No one I met in those five days had a ballot paper.
A week after I arrived in London to make the film for Channel 4 News, the tape of the final interview arrived by Federal Express. It was the interview with Alzaim Abu, who had led the fighters in the Shuhada district of Falluja and fought the Americans in the early battles in the city centre. We had been been trying to track him down for nearly three weeks. Then Tariq had got a call from him the night I had left for London saying that he would talk.
...one thing stood out for me that explained the empty graveyard and the lack of bodies. He said that most of the fighters had been given orders to abandon the city by November 17, nine days after the assault began. "The withdrawal of the fighters was carried out following an order by our senior leadership. We did not pull out because we did not want to fight. We needed to regroup; it was a tactical move. The fighters decided to redeploy to Amiriya and some went to Abu Ghraib," he said.
The US military destroyed Falluja, but simply spread the fighters out around the country. They also increased the chance of civil war in Iraq by using their new national guard of Shias to suppress Sunnis. Once, when a foreign journalist, an Irish guy, asked me whether I was Shia or Sunni - the way the Irish do because they have that thing about the IRA - I said I was Sushi. My father is Sunni and my mother is Shia. I never cared about these things. Now, after Falluja, it matters.
My God. What have we done?