Torture Photos: US Soldiers Raped,
By Tom Eley
29 May, 2009
In an interview with the British
newspaper the Daily Telegraph published Wednesday, former
Gen. Taguba said even the description of the photos is explosive. “These pictures show torture, abuse, rape and every indecency,” Taguba said. “The mere description of these pictures is horrendous enough, take my word for it.”
Taguba’s revelations expose the deceit of President Barack Obama’s claim, used to justify the photos’ suppression, that they “are not particularly sensational, especially when compared to the painful images that we remember from Abu Ghraib.” In all, it is believed that there are some 2,000 photographs depicting about 400 cases of US military personnel torturing Iraqis and Afghans at seven military prisons. The Bush administration, and now Obama, have sought to block publication of the images.
Obama also claimed that “the most direct consequence of
releasing them...would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put
our troops in greater danger.” While this may likely be true, the criminal
nature of the
However, the central reason Obama has chosen to fight the
photos’ release is that top
An Obama Pentagon spokesman denied that the suppressed images depict rape, while a carefully worded statement seemed to indicate other photos depict precisely such actions. Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said the Telegraph “has completely mischaracterized the images.... None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.” Whitman did not specifically deny Taguba’s claims.
Obama claims that the torture depicted in the photographs was committed by “a small number of individuals,” and that those “involved have been identified, and appropriate actions have been taken.” Here we may safely assume Obama is referring to a small handful of rank-and-file soldiers.
But what of the high-ranking officers who oversaw, endorsed and
most likely ordered the torture and rape of prisoners? If there are 2,000
photographs of prisoner torture that fell under the control of the Pentagon,
how many more cases were not photographed? It is clear that the torture and
rape of prisoners went far beyond the actions of “a few bad apples.” This
torture and sexual humiliation of prisoners—up to and including rape—can only
be described as the systematic policy of the
The policy of torture came from higher still, however, as recently released Justice Department legal memos and other evidence show. Various forms of torture, including forced nudity and sexual humiliation were studied, justified, and individually approved by top White House and congressional officials. A US Senate Armed Services Committee report issued in April reveals that Bush Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld personally approved 15 “harsh interrogation” methods. A version of Rumsfeld’s document was used, verbatim, at Abu Ghraib, according to the report. (See “Bush, top cabinet officials monitored torture of detainees”)
In his Telegraph interview, Taguba solidarized himself with Obama’s decision to suppress the photos. Taguba’s own investigation in 2004 was in fact a partial cover-up. He later admitted that he was ordered to confine his investigation to low-ranking military police, although he was aware that high-ranking generals had “extensive knowledge” of the torture. And though he was aware of the photographic evidence of torture and rape at the time, Taguba’s report made no mention of them.
Because his report was not a total whitewash, however, the Bush
administration forced the major general into retirement in 2007. He has since
described the actions of the Bush administration in
The photographic evidence of rape substantiates evidence Taguba
gathered in his investigation, which only became public due to another freedom
of information lawsuit. For example, in a sworn deposition Kasim Mehaddi Hilas
said he witnessed US military personnel raping a boy. “I saw [a
The sworn deposition also described the anal rape of prisoners with phosphorescent tubes and police clubs, as well as the use of wire in sexual torture.
The rape of Iraqi boys by US military personnel is corroborated
by other evidence. Journalist Seymour Hersh, who played a critical role in
breaking the Abu Ghraib story in 2004, has evidently seen all of the photos,
and is aware of video footage depicting rape. He has not written publicly on
their content, but a 2004 speech he gave to the ACLU indicates the sheer horror
“Some of the worst things that happened you don’t know about, okay?” Hersh said. “The women were passing messages out saying, ‘Please come and kill me, because of what’s happened,’ and basically what happened is that those women who were arrested with young boys, children in cases that have been recorded. The boys were sodomized with the cameras rolling. And the worst, above all, of that is the soundtrack of the boys shrieking that your government has. They are in total terror. It’s going to come out.” In another speech, quoted by Rick Pearlstein, Hersh spoke of “horrible things done to children of women prisoners, as the cameras run.”
The unfathomable crimes depicted in the photos arise inexorably from the project of aggressive wars based on lies. As such, they are the flip side of the conspiracy against the democratic rights of the American people. Both arise from the deepening crisis of US capitalism, which the ruling elite seeks to offset by seizing hold of key resources and strategic advantage over its rivals.
One can only react with horror. Contained in the stories and
images of the torture of defenseless prisoners, some of them boys and women, is
the true face of
In acting to suppress the images and protect the torturers,
Obama has made himself an accomplice in these crimes. Moreover, in the absence
of criminal investigation, there is every reason to believe that similar crimes
Indeed, the American ruling class is now engaged in an acrimonious debate over whether or not to openly embrace torture and other illegal aspects of the war on terror—the position advocated by Cheney—or to construct a quasi-legal framework within which similar policies can be carried forward—the position advocated by Obama.
Copyright © 1998-2009 World Socialist Web Site
Please report any
broken links to
Copyright © 1988-2012 irfi.org. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer