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Abu Ghraib Redux

On Wednesday 16 February 2006, Australian public broadcaster SBS current affairs program DATELINE telecast a segment featuring 60 new photos of the torture inflicted on prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Be warned the images are graphic.

Quicktime Video 11MB 13'11
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via Boing Boing



What is wrong with us?

I don't think this particular video has been posted on here (I haven't actually checked yet)...but has anyone seen the British soldiers beating the Iraqi kids? Fucked up.


Haven't been here in a while. I like the new site!

This torture issue is truly a systemic issue and the U.S. is doing it's best to keep it under the radar - it won't stay there.

Norm, that video at You tube is loading reeeealy slowly. Can you post it to your own website?


So, we're f***g up both detainees and our own people by allowing continued torture. I'm beginning to believe that vampires are real in a corporeal - not supernatural - world. The perpetuation of these horrific acts sucks the lifeblood out of both the victims and those who inflict humiliation, psychological and physical abuse, and death.

While the detainees may have their dignity intact, a look in the mirror after post-abuse would be painful, to say the least. On the other side, I do not know how the abusers could stand to see their reflections in the mirror. The person looking back has too many tales to tell. Both groups of people have been tortured psychologically, and those imprisoned also bear physical wounds and scars.

Suspend reality for a moment: Pretend that the war ends tomorrow. How do we expect all involved to participate in society? While I'm not into the "pity me,I'm a victim" M. O., I also don't see how you can expect soldiers, FBI agents, and physically tortured Muslims to just slip back into society and forget what has taken place in these prisons once we finally call off the dogs-literally and figuratively- in this bloody mess.

It's time for a strategy to end military and subversive covert action in the Middle East. Step 1 is to end torture - NOW. HONESTLY. Take the high road. It may seem long, but current actions can only make the road both longer and tougher to hoe. If our officials won't implement such a strategy, then it's time for citizens to take action and to start replacing the complacent jerks who claim we're on the right path. Look at the pictures - this is not NOT NOT the right path. Once the abuses have been cut off, the next steps involve holding the abusers - officers included - accountable, then handing back control of Iraq and Pakistan to their respective countries. Find the best damn olive branches available and develop a path or 10 toward resolving this tragic scenario.

Unfortunately, I'm probably preaching to the choir (for the most part) in this blog. Also unfortunately, I feel that many non-neo-cons are complacent in this country's relative prosperity and lack of relation to this war (lack of combat and casket pictures, tax cuts rather than hikes to foot the enormous war tab, remote locale of conflict). Organization, information, and lack of fear of being detained for a t-shirt or protest action are all needed in the opposition to the nastiness taking place.

This is not a comment on the entire military. Fortunately, there are many soldiers who do take the high road, and would never participate in the actions photographed. They may help end the abuse, but it is unrealistic to expect them to clean house on their own. Plus, those with non-prison missions have enough stress in their jobs and lives already. Let's have the civilian population do some work in ending the Mid-East conflict, something that would forecast a return home for those in uniform.

Sorry for the long post. It's easy to go on and on about the torture and ill-conceived military action. Certainly, this is a problem that begs our attention more than Cheney's hunting mishap and delayed public explanation.


I guess it depends on your definition of "torture".
I don't condone punching, kicking or striking a prisoner. But many of the photos you see are a combination of demonstrated humiliation and physical stress techniques that I don't consider torture. ie.. Being made to stand for hours with a hood over your head etc. It's hard for me to. How else are you going to gt answers?

What constitutes torture aside, what is it you suggest when standing for hours with a hood over your head etc doesn't get answers?

Hi Norm, great site

There are numerous techniques of coercion that I would put in the same category as standing for hours with a hood over your head, sleep deprivation etc, just tons of things you could do , that DONT include punching, hitting or striking someone. Right now they are being described as torture and I don’t think they are.

After they stood there for hours with a hood on and it doesn’t work? You try something else of the same ilk, you have them interrogated for hours on end by multiple people, make them uncomfortable, you just keep at it. Some people you will break, some you wont. I don;t consider any of that "torture"

I’d like to ask you, how would you handle a POW then?

How would I handle a POW? I would apply the Geneva conventions which include mental as well as physical torture and yes I do consider combinations of such things as sleep deprivation, stress positions, and playing loud music torture as does most of the world. It seems clear that such tactics would be banned by the convention.

Here is an article written by Jason Vest, government executive, concerning torture, and how it does not work, and how it corrupts the people who do the torturing.
I am surprised that there aren't more people upset by this. How would we feel if our own soldiers were treated this way? Well, I am sure that we would all be outraged. But since it is happening to some possible terrorists, I guess that makes it ok. But these people are just SUSPECTS. That means that innocent people end up being tortured. And, yes, Stephen, the things that you mentioned are torture and are cruel and unusual punishment.

What kind of society have we become that this type of treatment barely raises an eyebrow? I cannot imagine what monsters the U.S. must look like to the rest of the world. :((
If the tables were turned, the U.S. would not be putting up with this, and I don't think that the Arab nations are going to put up with.

Be a little more specific, we capture a guy who is a memeber of a terrorist group, you ask him questions, he doesn't want to answer, what do you do specifically?

Do you think putting these guys in the lap of luxury would have a positive effect? We could feed them filet mignon, and fine wine with every meal, give them a luxury hotel room with a king sized bed, you name it, and they would not turn around and say “gee those Americans are nice fellows, why are we fighting” or “ man these guys are nice, I’m going to give them the information they desire” they would despise us even more for our weakness. I know you or anyone else isn;t sugesting that. But how would you gain information that they don't want to give?

I dodn't disagree with you on torture, i think it's wrong. I couldn't stomach doing it, if faced with it, they would have had to discharge me, I'd refuse. I just disagree with what the definition of torture is. Making guys stand there naked, sleep deprivation, many of the things cited as torture are almost on par with pledging for a frat.

"If the tables were turned" They have been! We've had our guys taken as POW's, they didn't deprived of sleep, or hoods put over their heads, they, they got their heads cut off on live tv, or their throats cut.

Yes, Stephen, and the people doing this are terrorists. But for the U.S. to condone this type of behavior? What if the beheading were state sponsored, say that Egypt or some other country were doing the beheadings? What then?

And the U.S. IS going after the terrorists. The Arabs will now be going after the U.S. even more. This type of behavior from the U.S. will serve to upset the Arab world even more and they WILL strike back even harder now as more people join the jihad out of anger. Is this what we want?

If I couldn't get it within the terms of the Geneva conventions I wouldn't get it. It is not unlike the problem you face when your torture mini doesn't get results. You don't find out. What do you do if the person in the stress position refuses to stay in the stress position? Or what if he refuses to stand, you up the ante and your torture mini turns into even torture you don't countenance.

"Yes, Stephen, and the people doing this are terrorists. But for the U.S. to condone this type of behavior? What if the beheading were state sponsored, say that Egypt or some other country were doing the beheadings? What then?"

But we aren't beheading people. And these "terrorist" are the people we are catching and depriving of sleep.
As far as not wanting to do this stuff out of fear of upsetting the Arabs....haven't they been pissed off and attacking us for 20 years now? USS Cole, WTC I and II, Marine Barracks, Us. Embassies, Iranian hostages, all prior to us even doing anything like making them stay up for long hours.

I see your point, the whole "slippery slope" arguement. That line of thinking could be used to outlaw just about anything. If they refuse to stand, then you switch to something completely diffrent, and you keep trying and trying. Once you exahsted all meathods then hey, you face the fact that you just won't get the info. You don't hit them, kick them, slap them, anything like that. And I only think these meathods (sleep deprivation) should be used as a last resort. You try to build a rapport and trust first, but after days, weeks, a few months if it isn't working, you move on to these more drastic means.

Stephen says: "Do you think putting these guys in the lap of luxury would have a positive effect? We could feed them filet mignon, and fine wine with every meal, give them a luxury hotel room with a king sized bed, you name it"

YES! There is no doubt in my mind that it would have a positive effect. Treat them nicely, with respect. Give them a fair trial or let them go. Why should we deny constitutional protections (like due process) to anyone?

Near the end of WWII, some Germans fought like demons through the Soviets to get to where they could surrender to the Americans. Why? Because the Americans would treat them nicely and give them ice cream. The Soviets would beat, starve, or shoot them. Would you rather have been captured by the Red Army or by the GIs? Yeah me too.

If I knew I'd be chucked into a place like Abu Gharaib, I'd be inspired to fight to the death. I'd rather die on my feet than through torture. If people weren't terrorized by the idea of capture by the Americans, I think they would be more willing to help us. Tipsters give better intelligence than torture victims anyway.

Oh man... this. This filla you up with som much hate!
And I had trouble trusting military from the get go..
Disarm the world and teach dumb fucking farmer-boys some common sense.

I feel I'm well-entitled to use such words in this situation.

To start with, you have to absorb the fact that the overwhelming majority of those people had nothing to tell. Even the military admits that the majority of people at Gitmo had no connections to the insurgency or Al Qaeda.

They were scooped out of crowds that gathered after bombings. Scooped at random. Many were given to them by local bounty hunters that were being paid large amounts of money for bringing in "suspicious" people. Most of those were simply kidnap victims, snatched because they were alone belonged to a different clan or village.

These poor bastards don't have anything to tell their torturers.

It is difficult not to conclude that being an Iraqi and a Muslim is a crime punishable by Inquisition methods.

When I was a small child, six or seven years old, I saw a Life magazine article about the conditions and practices employed at one of the Nazi concentration camps.

There were some ghastly line drawings. What little I could read of the article and the drawings had a very strong and lasting impression. At the time I was horrified beyond words. Bad dreams, the whole bit.

At the same time I was so angry, I couldn't wait to be 16 so I could quit school, join the army, and go fight those bastard Germans. I was a bit confused about whether or not the war was over. At seven, the Germans and Russians seemed to be the same.

The point is, that those images and what they said about the people that did those terrible things, filled my baby's heart with rage and a desire to "fight the bad guys", that is still there.

Imagine the effect this has on the people of the entire Mid East.

Think about what this behavior says about us. The US, "democracy", etc.

What we see here is the bald face of human evil and depravity. There is a terrible price for such terrible deeds.

Unfortunately, many who will pay that price will not deserve it. Many who do, will walk away, to die in bed, and be buried with honors.

The overwhelming majority of the victims of this state sanctioned sadism, were not and are not terrorists. However, you can bet everything you have, that we are creating future extremists among those that survive our barbarism.

And another thing. For those who would say that what I've said above is a good argument for suppression the photo's and information, I would strongly suggest that, in deed, it is a damned good argument for never going down this barbaric road.

You can't keep these things secret for ever. One way or another, it was going to come out.

And, American citizens, the ones who will foot the unimaginably large bill for this war, need to know.

We have a right have a right to know, to see, the results of the kind of thinking that is going on in the White House.

Keep these images in mind, when you think about the drastic consequences of sections of the so called Patriot Act, and secret wiretaps against the president's political enemies.

Time to respond:
First, most of the detainees at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo and wherever else we're placing them are not confirmed terrorists.
Second, an overwhelming part of the time, torture does NOT work. See the link below:

Go to the 5th large section for comments on the effectiveness in garnering military/political intelligence through torture. The entire article describes the abuses in Abu Ghraib as well as who the perpetrators are.

The high road really is best. I implore all to seriously contemplate this. De-humanization can occur swiftly. Re-humanization almost always takes longer (epiphanies excepted).

Over and out. This one's shorter, at least.

Democracy now has a very interesting and informative interview with Professor Alfred McCay, a history professor who has long studied the CIA.

He wrote an important book, on CIA activities in the Golden Triangle, titled "The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia".

McCoy has studied the evolution of CIA interrogation technics from Vietnam until today. Some of his observations need to be thought about if you claim to have an informed opinion on the subject.

No matter which side of these arguments you are on, this interview is well worth your time.


Dated Reb.17,2006

That's Professor McCoy. "McCay" was a typo.

Thomas and Gypsy Sister, thank you for caring enough to take the time to post what you did.

Stephen said, "But we aren't beheading people. And these "terrorist" are the people we are catching and depriving of sleep."

Stephen, what kind of little game are you playing here? Are you being serious or just arguing for the sake of arguing? This is too important an issue to be playing games and acting cute.
The U.S. Military is doing a lot more than depriving them of sleep.

No, Stephen, there is no evidence that the U.S. military is beheading them. I am not using the word "we", since not all of us approve of this barbaric behavior.

Didn't you watch the film, read any of the links provided, or listen to what anyone is saying?

When you watched that film, did you condone all of the things done to those men and women? Or was it ok, because you didn't witness anyone being beheaded? What is your threshold for behavior which you consider barbaric? Do you not believe that the Geneva Conventions should be enforced and followed? Should not the U.S. be a model for correct behavior?

Are you not aware that who you are calling "terrorists" are often just SUSPECTS?

Thanks for the support Jo Ann. The link to the Jason Vest article should be required reading - for everyone.

From the need for intel perspective: interrogators who get information from psychological or physical abuse need to ask themselves just how reliable that info is. Do you torture to cull good intel, or just because it satisfies some sadistic urge?

Yes I did read the links posted, and I listened to what people said. Did You? You ask: "When you watched that film, did you condone all of the things done to those men and women? Or was it ok, because you didn't witness anyone being beheaded?"

Which video are you talking about? The only one I see on this thread is the one at the top of the brits beating an iraqi kid, which I do consider inhumane

I think I have stated a few times in this thread, that I don't condone torture on moral grounds, and I agree 100% with the premise that in most cases it isn't the most effective tool for garnering information. I just disagree that SOME of the examples given are torure, such as sleep deprivation, long interrogations, being made to stand with a hood on your head, things like that. Anything where a POW is struck I do not condone.

Anytime I try to debate with you Joann there doesn't seem to be any middle ground. I basically agree with 75% of your arguement (torture is sadistic and uneffective), I just don't believe many examples given are torture.

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