Friday, April 30, 2004

Torture in Baghdad 

When a story about torture and maltreatment of prisoners in the notorious Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad caught my attention this morning, I thought that the paper was revisiting some of Saddam's good old days of mayhem at the said prison.

But no, it was the story about American military personnel and their appalling practices. Mind you, most other news outlets didn't go overboard and referred to "abuse" rather than "torture" of Iraqi prisoners (for example, here, here and here).

So what happened? Some of the US military personnel at the prison have engaged in some pretty stupid stunts, which they also pretty stupidly photographed. Some of the activities included stacking naked prisoners in pyramids, putting hoods over their heads, writing slurs on their skin, and getting the prisoners to simulate sex acts for the cameras.

Let me make it clear: it's a stupid stupid stuff that degrades the prisoners and brings discredit to the US army.

Let me also make it clear: we're not talking here about mass executions, whippings, and torture regularly visited on the tens of thousands who had the misfortune to find themselves at Abu Ghraib during Saddam's reign. I'm venturing a guess that most of those people would swap that for having insulting signs written on their bodies any day.

Let us also note that six members of the 800th Military Police Brigade who run the prison are facing court martial, seven officers in charge face investigation, and the US general in charge of the prison system is suspended and under investigation.

This is the difference between then and now, and between the Americans and the Saddamites. But the left will still have wet dreams over the story.


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