Making sure Abu Ghraib prison remains infamous

May 2nd, 2004 – 1:05 pm
Tagged as: Uncategorized

Under the reign of Saddam Hussein, Abu Ghraib was infamous as a place where prisoners were routinely tortured. Apparently it’s a tradition that didn’t end with the invasion.

Graphic photographs showing the torture and sexual abuse of Iraqi prisoners in a US-run prison outside Baghdad emerged yesterday from a military inquiry which has left six soldiers facing a possible court martial and a general under investigation.

The scandal has also brought to light the growing and largely unregulated role of private contractors in the interrogation of detainees.

According to lawyers for some of the soldiers, they claimed to be acting in part under the instruction of mercenary interrogators hired by the Pentagon.

US military investigators discovered the photographs, which include images of a hooded prisoner with wires fixed to his body, and nude inmates piled in a human pyramid.

The pictures, which were obtained by an American TV network, also show a dog attacking a prisoner and other inmates being forced to simulate sex with each other. It is thought the abuses took place in November and December last year.

There’s more in this article from the Sunday Herald, and in this 60 Minutes II report.

Perhaps more importantly, the May 10th issue of The New Yorker (which goes on sale tomorrow) is going to have a major article on the subject, based on a 53-page, internal U.S. military report, which includes the important idea that this wasn’t just the actions of a few undertrained soldiers. As the New York Times reported today:

An Army Reserve general whose soldiers were photographed as they abused Iraqi prisoners said Saturday that she knew nothing about the abuse until weeks after it occurred and that she was “sickened” by the pictures. She said the prison cellblock where the abuse occurred was under the tight control of Army military intelligence officers who may have encouraged the abuse.

The suggestion by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski that the reservists acted at the behest of military intelligence officers appears largely supported in a still-classified Army report on prison conditions in Iraq that documented many of the worst abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, including the sexual humiliation of prisoners.

The New Yorker magazine said in its new edition that the report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba found that reservist military police at the prison were urged by Army military officers and C.I.A. agents to “set physical and mental conditions for favorable interrogation of witnesses.”

Whether it was military intelligence officers or mercenary interrogators who pushed for this, it seems we’ve given the Iraqi people yet another reason to think that the United States forces are there as occupiers, not liberators. The fact that a few soldiers will most likely be made scapegoats for the whole thing, despite the fact that the torture may well be a lot more widespread than just these incidents, won’t do anything to change their minds about that.

[several links via Buzzflash]

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