That’s what the Daily Telegraph says that Major General Antonio Taguba told them! (Hat tip The Daily Beast.) How utterly predictable!
At least one picture shows an American soldier apparently raping a female prisoner while another is said to show a male translator raping a male detainee.
Further photographs are said to depict sexual assaults on prisoners with objects including a truncheon, wire and a phosphorescent tube.
Another apparently shows a female prisoner having her clothing forcibly removed to expose her breasts.
What–you thought that invasion and occupation were going to be easy?
Detail of the content emerged from Major General Antonio Taguba, the former army officer who conducted an inquiry into the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq.
Allegations of rape and abuse were included in his 2004 report but the fact there were photographs was never revealed. He has now confirmed their existence in an interview with the Daily Telegraph.
The graphic nature of some of the images may explain the US President’s attempts to block the release of an estimated 2,000 photographs from prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan despite an earlier promise to allow them to be published.
I thought it was politically foolish for President Obama to block the release of the photos earlier this month. Even if the court order to release the photos is reversed, they’ll come out one way or the other. Because ours is an age of infinite digital photo transmission and duplication, the photos (or more just like them) are bound to surface one of these days, and better they come out when Obama is the new guy so that he’s not blamed for what was done on his predecessor’s watch. I understand the argument about jeopardizing the standing of the U.S. in the world, but if the U.S. really cared about its standing in the world, it should put all of the photos out there ASAP in the name of transparency and try to bring the offenders to justice. That’s how the rule of law works. Remember the rule of law? Oh, for the days when a tacky fling was grounds for impeachment!
But–all of that is just politics. What I care about much more is the fact that women and men were raped and sexually humiliated, and that those practices were all a part of the terror apparatus of running Abu Ghraib under the U.S. flag. We shouldn’t be surprised at this–after all, rape and sexual abuse travel with armies wherever they go in the modern world. Let’s be honest about what it takes to invade and occupy a country indefinitely, and let’s have the photos, too.
I was invited to a university to give a talk about Abraham in Arms when it was first published, and a woman in the audience (herself a women’s historian) commented, “this is all so true–we know that women and children are involved in wars and that they’re hurt and killed in them, and yet we have to learn this anew with every war. Why is that? Why do we always forget?” Great questions! There is in fact a concerted ideological attempt to distort the history of every war: we erase the women and remember only those men who conducted themselves honorably and bravely. In the modern world, war is the one realm of achievement left (largely) to men, where women have not yet made a place for themselves. We seem to want to cling desperately to that notion of male citizenship and patriotism being built around service in war precisely because women are largely excluded from what we like to imagine is a struggle among men without “collateral damage.”
How sad that the Obama administration is more like the Bush administration in this respect.
UPDATE, 5/28/09, this afternoon: Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman says that the Daily Telegraph “has completely mischaracterized the images,” and that “[n]one of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.” Uhhh, Pentagon? I think you need to take it up with Major General Taguba, not with the Daily Telegraph, since he is their source on the record for the “characterization” of the photos. I have a little question: if there are no photos of rape or sexual torture, why can’t we see them? The only way to prove your point is to release the photos. So, spare us the posturing about “characterizations,” and prove it.
I guess Bryan Whitman and his Pentagon bosses were absent that day in school when they taught that lesson about how the coverup is worse than the original crime. This is starting to remind me of when someone published naked photos of Dr. Laura on the world wide non-peer reviewed internets, and her attorneys argued that 1) she wasn’t the naked lady in the photos, but 2) she nevertheless sued for copyright infringement. Good luck, Pentagon–you’re going to need it.