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In Their Own Words

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Posted on Feb 15, 2006
Images of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison were broadcast on Australian TV.
Images: BBC / Illustration: Karen Spector

Images of prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison were broadcast on Australian TV.

Newly released photos and videos of inhumane conditions at Abu Ghraib have again shone a spotlight on America’s treatment of its prisoners. Read the sworn statements by prisoners at Abu Ghraib, obtained and translated by the Washington Post in 2004 at the height of the prison abuse scandal.

Excerpt: “As soon as we arrived, they put sandbags over our heads and they kept beating us…. And every single night this military guy comes over and beat us and handcuffed us until the end of his shift.”

Earlier:

In a gallingly disingenuous pronouncement, the U.S. State Department says that an Australian TV station was wrong to broadcast new images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison—“not because there was anything to hide” but rather “because we felt it was an invasion of the privacy of the people in the pictures.”

Right.

The official also said the release would “further inflame and cause unnecessary violence.”

This is depressingly typical of Bush administration apparatchiks: Condemn the messenger, rather than respond to the message.

What’s more, this makes a mockery of our attempts to preach openness and transparency to repressive, totalitarian regimes around the world.

Earlier:

BBC:

An Australian TV channel has broadcast previously unpublished images showing apparent US abuse of prisoners in Iraq’s Abu Ghraib jail in 2003.

The images on SBS TV are thought to be from the same source as those that caused an outcry around the world and led to several US troops being jailed.

story and video

—Posted by Blair Golson.

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By AMINA, August 29, 2008 at 8:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

ou est le droit d’homme? ca c’est catastrophe vous etes des monstre mais dieu est grand n’inquietaient pas mais frére iraquien i cant belived this is very hard.

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By C. M. Baxter, February 19, 2006 at 3:22 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’ve perused the BBC article and studied the pictures.  Where’s the torture?  What I see is an extremely slanted article accompanied by relatively benign pictures.  In the article, the victims of “torture” are referred to as “prisoners” and “detainees” but nowhere as to what they actually are:  prisoners of war.  Prisoners of war, in this instance, are people who were and are ready to kill American soldiers if given the opportunity.  Before you click to see the ten pictures of torture, you are warned that some may find them disturbing.  Picture #5 appears to be the most likely candidate for actual torture.  The man is obviously being restrained but we are not told why.  And what kind of torturous garb is he wearing?  In the background I see what appears to be slabs of foam rubber.  Hey, Folks, I’m really trying to imagine how painful that might be!  The article sited another man being treated for throat wounds after refusing to be transferred to another part of the prison.  If a prisoner of war resists being moved from one place to another, is physical force warranted and, if applied, might someone be injured?  Or should the guards sit down with him and negotiate over a cup of tea?  Another man is shown with wounds on his butt.  How did he get them?  Was he part of the briefly mentioned riot, or did the Americans stand him up for target practice?  Again we are not told.  And what about the riot?  Shouldn’t it have been the main thrust of the article?  What caused the riot and how many people were involved?  Men were wounded, corpses were seen.  How many?  Were guards wounded?  Did any of the Americans involved receive debriefing or counseling after the riot?  The guards are accused of using live ammunition after non-lethal ammunition was exhausted.  Well, what would be the alternatives?  I don’t see any.

I see no actual torture in those pictures.  Discipline and humiliation, yes; torture, no. I am also struck by the lack of skepticism concerning the BBC article in the reader comments following this post.  I think President Bush deserves to be thrown out of office, but let’s not scapegoat our soldiers in Iraq for the sake of Bush bashing.

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By R. A. Earl, February 19, 2006 at 12:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Slightly tangential to this topic but…

I watched the movie “CRASH” last night and I’m still spinning in a sea of depression. If this film accurately depicts life in the USA today (what I call a SOAL..Slice Of American Life) then it’s not hard to understand the genesis of many of the brutal American domestic and international policies and actions we witness these days.

This film describes an almost palpable level of generalized anger and hostility that is set to blow at the first provocation. I guess if I was a citizen becoming aware of how corrupt and untrustworthly my elected officials are I’d feel used and be heading toward the jaded, pissed-off end of the mood scale too.

There’s a cultural and constitutional right to the “pursuit of happiness” that has veered way out of control… it seems that everyone thinks they deserve EVERYTHING, right from the starting gun, ... cars, houses, great job, wealth, power… with LITTLE or NO education or work.

It seems it’s of no consequence to many of the the “privileged,” overfed Americans that tens of thousands of children and adults in other parts of the world DIE each DAY from lack of food and medical care… just so long as they die elsewhere, preferably out of sight and out of hearing.

It’s as if Americans have come to really believe that because (in their minds) they’re the “greatest nation on earth” they are, in fact, superior to all other cultures and societies on the planet, and this automatically entitles each and everyone one of them (mostly white, Christian, “politically connected” “them”) to all the good things in life.

I know that millions of Americans know better than this… that their compassion is not dead… but somehow a “critical mass” of those who don’t has started the snowball down the hill, and it’s now careening out of control.

I’m hoping when the CRASH comes, as it surely will, “caring” Americans somehow escape the worst of it. If I were currently living in the USA, I’d be looking to move very soon to a nice, quiet acreage somewhere sensible as far from US jurisdiction as I could afford (preferably someplace that has no resources whatever… having oil or water or any raw materials can be really hazardous to your health these days!).

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By K T, February 19, 2006 at 12:31 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with Comment #3924 by R. A. Earl.

I don’t think Nader or the Republicans “stole” the election.

I don’t even blame the Bush administration.

It’s important yet completely pointless to speak of the unfairness of the Electoral College or the unfair representation of lesser populated states in Congress. That’s the Constitution, a document written by mere fallible mortals.

The reality is that the American people voted for “this”. Not just for the Presidency, but for the Congress, and now, indirectly, the Supreme Court. It doesn’t even matter if it’s Republican, Democratic, or whatever.

They voted for “this” twice on the local, state, and national level, and they’re apparently not outraged by torture and international aggression let alone accepting the outrageous profits of defense, oil, and health care industries or by the swelling deficits, failing infrastructure, and blind-siding of the environment.

Sadly it’s the younger generation that will have to pay for all this. What will this generation leave for them in the name of faith and security?

The people voted for this. That’s the reality. The ultra-right have complete power over most everything now. And yet, they still spew out hate, and act as if they and their values and goals are under constant persecution by a liberal populous, academia, and press.

After WWII, America was transforming the world with endeavors such as the Marshall Plan. America made sure democracy would rule, not imperialistic, colonial superpowers. After the Cold War as the sole superpower, America could have led the world to move forward. Unfortunately, the voters have allowed those in power to bring back the world back into the Dark Ages where science, reason, and inclusiveness is substituted with vicious hate and fear for the end goal of greed and power disguised as infallible faith in the name of holy and national self-defense.

Implying that someone is un-American or unpatriotic and using “Love It! or Leave It!” jingoisms are obviously not valid, reasoned arguments in intelligent discourse. But these types of “arguments” are working well for a majority of the voting populous who do not value reason, but use divine faith as their compass for democracy in our internal and geopolitical affairs.

The American people know that torture is happening. They really don’t care, and to them it’s all justified by the “War on Terror.”

It’s sad. In some ways whether or not the American public ever wakes up and changes its mind doesn’t really matter. The harm has already been done.

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By Renato, February 18, 2006 at 6:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not even Carter has any right to talk about human rights. He is responsivel for an increase in arms sales to our friendly dictator in Indonesia that resulted in a small scale genocide. He supported a dictator such as Anastacio Somoza in Nicaragua providing him with US legitimacy and allowed to carry on with his repressive and murdering spreee . He is responsivel for the training in US soil and arming of our most recent enemies ( al quaeda)
His public stance as a human rights advocate is for public consumption only. He as every other american president has always been a servant to power and followed the imperialist line.

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By R. A. Earl, February 17, 2006 at 11:36 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Duncan Stewart in #3907…

I have two bones to pick with your views…

Publishing the photos most certainly does help to make the public aware of what’s going on during the American “watch.” And the point of making you aware… is TO GET YOU OFF YOUR WHINING ASS LONG ENOUGH TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR RUN-AMOK, WAR MONGERING ADMINISTRATION. If you want someone to blame look at the hypocrits in your LEADERSHIP. You don’t think your average “grunt” would be torturing and humiliating if he or she knew “the boss” was going to take them apart for it, do you? I’d be willing to bet if the truth be known that Rumsfeld and Cheney and Bush consider the CRIME here is THEM GETTING CAUGHT ON VIDEO DOING IT!

Secondly, re your warning that publishing the photos might further “inflame Muslim sentiment.” Well, TOO BLOODY BAD. You don’t want the photos or cartoons published because you’re AFRAID. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of mentally deranged & misguided Muslims who are just itching to strap on a load of C-4 or Semtex plastic explosive and blow themselves to smithereens.

You just don’t want to upset these murderers not out of any respect you might have for them, but in the hope they won’t blow YOU up - you have an aversion to irritating their hair-trigger sensibilities and winding up on the receiving end of their hostilities. I think you’re sadly mistaken if you believe that by APPEASING these idiots they’re going to let up on their aggression towards the west. IN YOUR DREAMS.

I am aware that the vast majority of Muslims do have their heads screwed on right and do abhor the terrorism being conducted in their name. But for the most part, the “sane” majority is caught like a deer in the headlights - powerless to go against their conditioning and training, let alone their wacko peers. They’re AFRAID too!

It’s the same damned thing with “main stream” Christians… the vast majority are appalled at the antics of the lunatics on their ultra-right wing… but how does one group of Christians dump all over another group of Christians without getting dragged into the stinking mess themselves?

I don’t know how to resolve this problem. I understand (perhaps in error) that Muslims are taught by their religion that we non-Muslims are INFIDELS and therefore must all be slaughtered at the slightest provocation. While I think this is a FAR bigger threat than Iraq or Iran or the Israeli/Palestinian dust up I’m virtually certain that APPEASEMENT is not the answer. They all seem to be graduates of the GWB School of Simpleton Thinking…“Either yer with us, or yer agin us.”

Perhaps we might find some kind of peace if WE (the West) STAYED THE HELL OUT OF THEIR LANDS, WARS, OIL PATCHES AND BUSINESS. Let THEM deal with their own dictators and religious wackos, and we’ll do the same with ours!

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By Fayez, February 16, 2006 at 8:42 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let me get this straight:
  The conservatives[all the cable “news” media]
say do not publish these pictures.
Well, now, wait a minute!
Are these not the same people who defend the Danish
press, blah blah,... you know what I mean.
Fact of the matter is, we have pictures of torture and murder by troops of a country against people,
people being tortured in their own country!
How would Americans or any nation, for that matter,
like it if a foreign army came to their nation and killed 30,000 people and continued to commit more war crimes?
Does anyone to the right of center in this country
have a brain that analyzes factual happenings or history, perhaps a bit of imagination?
One more word.To the people who keep bringing up the
[thankfully very few] beheadings, I and other historians can prove to you such specific acts were done by Americans in Vietnam.
And, there were many cases where One! person cut up or flame-throwed more humans than the total of
those beheadings[which if I was there, I would have risked my life to save those victims] Now,check it out, Nicaragua where in one, only one incident Contra
thugs and American undercover threw flamethrowers
on whole families hiding in holes or shacks.
Do not get us European historians started. Like what I call the- rolling murder machine- that was the Nazi army.
By the way many people of non-German nationality
in Europe during WW11 commited horrible crimes against the Jewish people, gypsy’s, rebels and so forth. Damn it, torture is torture and crime is crime! What’s the problem here, conservatives, wherever you are? Think about it Republicans!
Peace and, later Alligator

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By R. A. Earl, February 16, 2006 at 11:05 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I don’t think there’s much left in the “Goodwill Towards Americans” tank.

This is very sad. Most Americans I’ve had the pleasure to meet and know over the decades have been intelligent, decent, trustworthy folk.

Anyone can make a mistake, once. But to elect GWB a second time was the biggest America has ever made. Folks… you’re aboard the USS Titanic with Captain GWB at the helm. Hope you’ve got your life preservers securely fastened!

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By Brandon, February 16, 2006 at 6:39 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I agree with the previous post about Carter’s book. I read it, and agree 100% with Carter’s assertion that our leaders have forsaken America’s moral guidance and compass in pursuit of hazy and foggy policies. This leadership has been the most divisive, secretive, and disingenuous in the Union’s history.

I think in the future when historians reflect back on these eight years, they will also show a level of corruption previously unimaginable in American history.

We can all thank Ohio for the continuing debacle.

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By Duncan Stewart, February 16, 2006 at 3:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Dear Truth Dig,

Sorry, but you are dead wrong on this one. Publishing these new pictures does absolutely nothing to make us—the public—anymore informed on what went on Abu Ghraib. Any person with half an imagination already knew what went on in Abu Ghraib without the graphic details.  What publishing these additional pictures does do is satisfy a morbid and sick curiosity…and it will inflame Muslim sentiment in much the same way as those Danish cartoons did.

Some innocent person or persons will unfortunately have to pay for this. Either new kidnapping victims, or those already being held hostage will probably be donning those ever familiar orange jump suits and will suffer the same fate as Nick Berg and other unfortunate beheading victims.

You can blame this on the Bush administration all you want, but the old truth that “two wrongs don’t make a right” stands very clear in my mind. Publishing these pictures bloodies the hands of the free press, as much as it has already bloodied hands in the White House…period!!!

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By Allan Price, February 15, 2006 at 8:53 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another proud momement in American history.

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By faith, February 15, 2006 at 8:15 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

EVERYONE, PLEASE READ JIMMY CARTER’S BOOK, “OUR ENDANGERED VALUES”.  An entire chapter is dedicated to this reversal in american ideology concerning torture.  Wake up America !! Torture is wrong, wrong, wrong.  We baby boomers did not grow up with these values, which currently advocate atrocious behaviors to prisoners.We need to take back our country and remove the current administration from positions of power.  The pictures are appalling and they will incite retribution.  Let’s write our congress, as well as the White House and let them know that we do not approve, or assent to treating any prisoners with such reckless, wanton disregard.

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