Never say, "It can't get any worse."

It can.That was the feeling when Amnesty International disclosed this week that the government of Iraq beats, mutilates, sexually abuses, tortures and murders the children of critics and opponents of the repressive regime. Some of the victims are even infants.

As the sickening details come to light, the only proper response is horror. Even those with strong stomachs would find themselves stunned by some of the diabolical and hideous things done to children and their parents in the name of politics and punishment.

At times, for instance, starving infants were put in cells near their parents and left to scream, just inches away from mother's life-saving milk.

One's heart goes out to the young victims and to the families who are forced to share the emotional scars.

There is a tendency, since Iraq fought a war against Iran and the brutal regime of the Ayatollah Khomeini, to regard Iraq as among the enlightened community of nations.

But it should be remembered that before that war, Iraq was intensly anti-U.S. During the war it unleashed poison gas on innocent villagers. And now - the torture report.

All of this, but especially the stories of deliberate horrors inflicted upon children as a way of getting at their parents are enough to condemn Iraq before the world.

There is no justification, no defense, no excuse for such cruelty and inhumanity - not ever.