Friday, April 30, 2004

American Sexual Torture and Murder of Iraqi Prisoners

CBS's 60 Minutes II reports that "photographs surfaced showing American soldiers abusing and humiliating Iraqis being held at a prison near Baghdad": "It was American soldiers serving as military police at Abu Ghraib who took these pictures. The investigation started when one soldier got them from a friend, and gave them to his commanders. 60 Minutes II has a dozen of these pictures, and there are many more – pictures that show Americans, men and women in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners" ("Abuse of Iraqi POWs by GIs Probed," April 29, 2004).
According to the Army, one Iraqi prisoner was told to stand on a box with his head covered, wires attached to his hands. He was told that if he fell off the box, he would be electrocuted.

Some pictures show Americans, men and women in military uniforms, posing with naked Iraqi prisoners. There are shots of the prisoners stacked in a pyramid, one with a slur written on his skin in English. In some, the male prisoners are positioned to simulate sex with each other.

Another shows a detainee with wires attached to his genitals. Another shows a dog attacking an Iraqi prisoner. There is also a picture of an Iraqi man who appears to be dead -- and badly beaten. In most of the pictures, the Americans are laughing, posing, pointing, or giving the camera a thumbs-up. ("Arab TV Shows Iraq Abuse Photos," April 30, 2004)
60 Minutes II had the goods two weeks ago, but it caved in to "an appeal from the Defense Department, and eventually from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, to delay this broadcast" (April 29, 2004). It finally aired the images of sexual torture and murder of Iraqi prisoners on Wednesday, as the photos were "beginning to circulate elsewhere, and with other journalists about to publish their versions of the story" (April 29, 2004).

See the images in question at The Memory Hole, "Photos of Iraqis Being Abused by US Personnel" (April 30, 2004); and Anthony Harwood, "Outrage at American Torture of Iraqi Prisoners" (April 30, 2004).

Despite the graphic evidence, the family members of the two of the soldiers who engaged in sexual torture are in denial:
The Baltimore Sun's Friday editions identified two other soldiers facing court-martial. The newspaper cited unidentified Army officials in naming Sgt. Javal S. Davis, 26. His wife, who also spoke to the newspaper, defended her husband.

"We really don't know how those prisoners are behaving," said Zeenithia Davis, who is in the Navy in Mississippi. "There's a line between heinous war crimes and maintaining discipline."

A Sun reporter on Thursday showed a photo of one of the nude prisoner scenes to Terrie England, who recognized her daughter, reservist Lynndie R. England, 21, standing in the foreground with her boyfriend.

The alleged abuses of prisoners were "stupid, kid things -- pranks," Terrie England said. ("Arab TV Shows Iraq Abuse Photos," April 30, 2004)