Documentary whiz Errol Morris is turning his camera on Abu Ghraib’s most notorious moments in his latest film, “Standard Operating Procedure,” in which he unearths a host of unsettling information about torture, “ghost” prisoners and interrogators, and, as Morris describes in this blog about his new project, exactly what happened to prisoner Manadel al-Jamadi’s body after he died while under interrogation at the prison in Iraq.
Errol Morris in The New York Times:
Stevanus provides some additional information about the O.G.A.‘s [Other Government Agencies agent’s] demeanor: “After we found out he [Jamadi] was dead, they were nervous; they didn’t know what the hell to do. The short, fat O.G.A. guy said, “No one’s ever died on me before when I interrogated them.”
Swanner called on his cell phone for assistance and several other C.I.A. officers arrived. It’s presumably not O.K. to kill prisoners. Several additional M.P.‘s arrived, including Capt. Christopher Brinson. Capt. Donald Reese and Lt. Col. Steve Jordan. Jordan soon notified Colonel Pappas, the commander of the prison.
The top brass at the prison—essentially everyone who was anyone—were present and involved in a heated discussion of what to do next. According to Jordan, Pappas made it clear that he wasn’t going to take the fall for what amounted to the death of an O.G.A. prisoner.
Hydrue Joyner described the scene as a version of the movie “Weekend at Bernie’s,” where two sad-sack employees pretend that their murdered boss is still alive so that they can avoid being implicated in his death. Indeed, when al-Jamadi was finally entered into the prison log book on November 5, 2003 (since he was a “ghost” detainee without an identification number), he was simply identified as “Bernie.” A good joke.
The story behind the smile: Filmmaker Morris interviewed Spc. Sabrina Harman about this now-infamous photo in which she poses at Abu Ghraib prison with the corpse of Manadel al-Jamadi, aka “Bernie.”