Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Abu-Ghraib and other Abuses during War
Americans denied real coverage of war
On Wednesday 16 February 2006, Australian public broadcaster SBS current affairs program DATELINE telecast a segment featuring 60 new photos of the torture inflicted on prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. These photos were secured by court order - the ACLU figures prominently in the report - but these photos haven't yet been shown in the media anywhere in the United States. Because of the broadcast on SBS, you now have access to both Web-downloadable versions and BitTorrent file-sharing network versions of the broadcast on this site. THESE PHOTOS ARE VERY DISTURBING. Please do not view this video if you are easily disturbed by graphic imagery of torture and death.
It's quite frightening to think of our soldiers sinking to the level of the gangs of Saddam Hussein. This is important enough for its own section, separate from Politics. Each of us thinks that WE would be the one not to follow orders, not to hurt prisoners, not to break the law. But would we? Studies in obedience suggest not.
Obedience to Authority - The experiment by Stanley Milgram: http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/milgram_obedience_experiment.html
The Perils of Obedience by Stanley Milgram: http://home.swbell.net/revscat/perilsOfObedience.html
More frightening than the actions of the soldiers, is that this was part of the chain of command. And scariest of all is that all of this has been covered up at the highest levels, including illegally classifying at least one report on the torture. The report on torture at Abu Ghraib prison is apparently still classified. But it is now widely available on the internet, including here: http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/dod/taguba.pdf
See the Secrecy News for more on this: http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2004/05/index.html
Red Cross (ICRC) official statement: http://www.icrc.org/Web/eng/siteeng0.nsf/html/5YRMYC?OpenDocument (Report delivered to the coalition leadership in February 2004)
Colin Powell: Prisoner Abuse Scandal 'Could Get Worse' (NPR): http://www.npr.org/display_pages/features/feature_1892012.html
NPR coverage of Iraq: http://www.npr.org/iraq/
U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba investigated the abuses at Abu-Ghraib, and his 53-page classified report chronicled the abuses at the prison (report completed in March). 11 May 2004 Taguba testified before the Senate Armed Services committee, saying that the mistreatment at the prison resulted from poor leadership, a "lack of discipline, no training whatsoever and no supervision." No wonder this report was ignored and covered up.
The question is wider. We tolerate such acts in US prisons, with little public outcry. Rape is an expected part of imprisonment in US prisons! See Human Rights Watch: http://www.hrw.org/, Amnesty International: http://www.amnesty.org/
The Utah Department of Corrections connection: http://abcnews.go.com/sections/WNT/Investigation/iraq_prison_wardens_040520-1.html
Rape is and has been a serious problem in the US military: http://www.npr.org/features/feature.php?wfId=1892737
Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 - H. R. 1707: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:SN01435:@@@L&summ2=m&
Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for truth. - Benjamin Disraeli