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More Images of Abu Ghraib


By Ari Berman
The Nation
Monday 22 August 2005

There's a new batch of photos from Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, and these are reportedly far worse than the sickening originals. Naturally, the Pentagon is trying to block their release.

The ACLU filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in October 2003 to make public 87 photographs and four videos depicting prisoner abuse in Iraq. The Pentagon originally argued that releasing the images would violate the Geneva Convention rights of the detainees; a supreme irony considering that the US originally denied these very prisoners Geneva Convention protections. The ACLU agreed that the Pentagon could black out "identifying characteristics," but a federal judge in New York ruled last week that DoD must explain publicly why it's concealing the images. "By and large, I ruled for public disclosure," said US District Judge Alvin Hellerstein. A final ruling is expected on August 30.

In court proceedings, General Richard Myers argued that releasing the pictures and videos would give aid to the enemy: boosting Al Qaeda recruitment, destabilizing governments in Iraq and Afghanistan and inciting riots throughout the Muslim world. But a number of high-ranking officers and civil libertarians countered by noting that much of what Myers predicts is already occurring on the ground, fueled in large measure by past and present US behavior. "The attacks will continue regardless of whether the photos and tapes are released," testified former US Army Colonel Michael Pheneger. Myers, he said, "mistakes propaganda for motivation."

Last May members of Congress sat in a dark room and viewed the images. Their responses begged for further elaboration. "It was disgusting," said Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson. "There were new ones that we hadn't seen before, and they're bad. I mean there's no doubt about that." Bad enough to show to Congress apparently, but not the American people.

The NewsHour's Ray Suarez said the images reportedly depict "assault, coerced sexual activity, rape, even dead bodies." Some may have originated outside of Abu Ghraib. Rep. Jane Harman said she saw videos of a prisoner banging his head against a wall and a group of men masturbating. "Some of the videos are more disturbing than the still photos that you've seen," added Sen. Bill Nelson.

Far from endangering American national security, the release of the horrific images could provide new impetus to the stalled Congressional investigations into prisoner abuse, and the Pentagon's failure to hold any high-ranking officers accountable for Abu Ghraib. An independent counsel with subpoena power is what's needed most right now to prevent images like these in the future.

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So pictures of torture victims cannot be released because it is a breach of the torture victims' rights under the Geneva convention!

KISS MY ASS RUMSFELD! You crapped all over the Geneva convention when it suited you; when you were setting up your torture squads in the first place and when you were putting people in prisons with no access to lawyers and without charges or proof, when you were sending people to be tortured in other countries.

One report says the worst thing about the videos is the "shrieks of a little boy as he is raped by guards" And someone was videoing this... What is going on with America? Has it come to this...

Mothers were getting letters out to their husbands begging them to come and kill them becasue of what was happening to them and their children after they were lifted by US forces off the street. Do you think that was because the food was bad?

There is a holocaust going on in Iraq. George Bush is a neocon nazi.

WAKE THE FUCK UP AMERICA!

General Myers is absoultely correct in saying that releasing the pictures and videos would give aid to the enemy. But the "enemy" he and his bosses are really worried about is public opinion -- in the U.S and around the world.

It's like a serial rapist-murderer arguing against showing the jury pictures of his victims' bodies because they might upset and anger the jurors. In fact these pictures are even more "prejudicial" because they actually show the perpetrators as they perform their vicious and barbaric acts of sodomy on innocent children.

I suspect that inciting riots throughout the Muslim world is probably understating the likely reactions by a nation or two.

I would urge my Representative (Rep. Steve King R-IA) to look into what's happening with Congressional investigations into Iraqi prisoner abuse, but I'd probably be wasting my time--he came out after the first batch of photos was made public, likening them to what goes on at a frat house hazing.

R Ap

To which fraternity did he belong that rapes women and sodomizes young boys as part of its hazing ritual? Did they take pictures too?

I've been thinking about the unreleased Abu Ghraib images and here's what I wonder... How many people will be killed by the violence that will be generated in reaction to them?

Not that there shouldn't be consequences for the people who were directly responsible for Abu Ghraib and that includes the chain of command right up to the CIC. But what of the American expatriates all over the world who will get caught in the cross-fire because they are accessible and W is not? What of the people in other countries who will react in anger and be physically suppressed by their governments when they threaten our embassies? How many more will die?

How do we nail the chain of command without the photos... if we release photos, how do we protect the vulnerable?

What responsibility do those pushing for full exposure of the photos and videos have toward those who will be killed and injured as a direct result of the release of those photos?

Just wondering... and unhappy with the alternatives I've thought of thus far.

Response to tuazama:

Just knowing that the photos exist is a powerful message. In this case, let's make our words show the world the wrongs. I know I personally don't want to see the gorey photos; I find no joy in seeing others being humiliated or in pain.

In some ways, we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. The fact that the torture happened is damaging enough to cause others to condemn all Americans. There may not be any good alternatives in this case.

The problem is that the our government condoned this type of behavior. And I don't buy the story that "terrorists are different than POWs."

Our government's leaders need to be held accountable for the torture our military is involved in, not the innocent citizens of our country.

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