Monday, April 4, 2005

Why we'll never see the second round of Abu Ghraib photos

/ crimes / iraq /
An explanation for the failure of the shocking events Seymoure Hersh and others had mentioned, or why this or this was not accompanied by (existing) images:

The images, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told Congress, depict "acts that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel, and inhuman." After Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) viewed some of them in a classified briefing, he testified that his "stomach gave out." NBC News reported that they show "American soldiers beating one prisoner almost to death, apparently raping a female prisoner, acting inappropriately with a dead body, and taping Iraqi guards raping young boys." Everyone who saw the photographs and videos seemed to shudder openly when contemplating what the reaction would be when they eventually were made public.

But they never were. After the first batch of Abu Ghraib images shocked the world on April 28, 2004, becoming instantly iconic... no substantial second round ever came, either from Abu Ghraib or any of the other locations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay where abuses have been alleged. ABC News broadcast two new photos from the notorious Iraq prison on May 19, The Washington Post printed a half-dozen on May 20 and three more on June 10, and that was it.

"It refutes the glib claim that everything leaks sooner or later," says the Federation of American Scientists' Steven Aftergood, who makes his living finding and publishing little-known government information and fighting against state secrecy. "While there may be classified information in the papers almost every day, there's a lot more classified information that never makes it into the public domain."

Recent events seem to be illuminating the chain of command leading to and responsible for the culture of torture that prevades the US army's treatment of prisoners world-wide. It turns out that the whole thing was not after all due to the evil nature of Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski. I wonder if there is a paper trail that leads, in an actionable way, to even higher offices than those of General Sanchez.

In other news from Iraq, commiting warcrimes as defined by the Geneva convention, costs the scapegoat the harsh penalty of an unhonourable discharge from the army. A brilliant display of the current US administration's inability to stage-manage even show trials. This arguably beats the previous record of risk-free scapegoatry: serving three days for being in charge of a rather gruesome massacre.

Anyway, if anyone is still interested, there's one more eyewitness to warcrimes:
Delgado [an Army Reservist in the 320th Military Police Company, who served in Iraq from April 1, 2003 through April 1, 2004] says he observed mutilation of the dead, trophy photos of dead Iraqis, mass roundups of innocent noncombatants, positioning of prisoners in the line of fire—all violations of the Geneva conventions. His own buddies—decent, Christian men, as he describes them—shot unarmed prisoners.
In one government class for seniors, Delgado presented graphic images, his own photos of a soldier playing with a skull, the charred remains of children, kids riddled with bullets, a soldier from his unit scooping out the brains of a prisoner...

But is this sort of thing covered by the major media anymore? Does it make headlines? The Sanchez thing? Delgado? The pictures of whatever horror the Pentagon is trying to hush up, if they finally surface? The trillion pieces that the Geneva convention has been torn up by the conduct of the world's sole military superpower? Does the US DoD or the Pentagon, even need to come up with excuses? Will many care if Rumsfeld decides to say: "fuck it, yes we did clobber those filthy Arab bastards and we bloody enjoyed it, and we're going to do it again in spades - whachagonnadoo aboutit?"

It seems that the few significant civilizing gains that were the result of the victory over Fascism are now being rolled back at a fast pace.

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