Thursday, May 06, 2004
Some commentators on the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib are playing down what occurred there, implying that it wasn't "real" torture. For example, (Right) Wingnuts cites Sean Hannity as referring to the incidents as "borderline torture". Also, Salon has a pretty good summary of the initial rightwing response to the Abu Ghraib story in which one blogger's commentary is characterized as "rattl[ing] off a litany of horrific stories from Iran, Syria, Cuba and other nations ruled by autocratic regimes to support his view that the U.S. abuses are not so bad."
While it's interesting to see rightwingers adopting the charicatured moral relativist position they so often attribute to the left, these views are not only wrong and deeply repugnant but also quite simpleminded in the analysis of the situation they imply. It is a gross misunderstanding of the unfolding narrative to stake a lot of importance in the acts depicted in these particular pictures as opposed to placing importance in the implications of the existence of these pictures and the fact that they were so readily accessible to so many parties that they ended up in the mainstream American media. Look, more pictures were unearthed today, for example -- maybe tomorrow there will be pictures that are far far more horrible, or, perhaps more plausibly, the far far more horrible acts -- that there is now very good reason to believe are occurring -- were not photographed.
American Leftist would like to know if Sean Hannity believes that beating and electrocuting someone until they enter a coma is another example of "borderline torture", with or without pictures. From the New Standard:
Not all evidence of military personnel mistreating Iraqis held in US custody come from leaks within the American- and British-run detention facilities. In many cases, such as that of Sadiq Zoman, 57, who last year entered US custody healthy but left in a vegetative state, the story originates with family members desperate to share their loved one’s story with anyone willing to listen.
American soldiers detained Zoman at his residence in Kirkuk on July 21, 2003 when they raided the Zoman family home in search of weapons and, apparently, to arrest Zoman himself.
More than a month later, on August 23, US soldiers dropped Zoman off, already comatose, at a hospital in Tikrit. Although he was unable to recount his story, his body bore telltale signs of torture: what appear to be point burns on his skin, bludgeon marks on the back of his head, a badly broken thumb, electrical burns on the soles of his feet. Additionally, family members say they found whip marks across his back and more electrical burns on his genitalia.
[ ... ]
The Zoman family has been able to reconstruct a rough story of Sadiq’s incarceration from eyewitness accounts related by neighbors who were detained at the same time. They say Zoman was first held at the Kirkuk Airport Detention Center, then transferred still healthy to Al-Ka’ad, a school the Army had converted into a detention facility. On August 6, witnesses said, he was moved to a base in Tikrit where they say he was beaten.